NRF promotes and invests in the architectural heritage of the Newport community, the traditional building trades, and Doris Duke’s fine and decorative arts collections, for the enjoyment, education and inspiration of all.
As a leader in the preservation of early American architecture, NRF supports research and education in areas directly related to its collections and issues of critical concern to the field of historic preservation.
Tour Doris Duke’s art-filled mansion and enjoy panoramic ocean views from the extensive grounds, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. Open late March to November.
Experience the only museum in the world specializing in 18th-century Newport furniture and related decorative arts. Open late May to October.
Explore 40 acres of open space, a tribute to the agrarian heritage of Aquidneck Island. The site is open daily from dawn to dusk for public enjoyment.
Newport Restoration Foundation holds one of the largest collections of period architecture owned by a single organization anywhere in the United States.
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29 Mary Street
The Christopher Fowler House stands on the original site and is probably one of the most original of any of the buildings owned by the Newport Restoration Foundation (NRF). Built c.1801, this two-story house has a gambrel roof, two interior chimneys, and an excellent fanlight doorway. When NRF purchased the property in 1972, the house had remained in the same family's ownership for nearly one hundred years and virtually all the interior woodwork and trim was intact. The house was restored in 1973-74.
Christopher Fowler was a merchant who kept a diary that contains detailed information regarding the house. Fowler recorded that he made a contract in 1800 to raise, cover, and completely finish the outside of the house for two hundred and eighty dollars. Later, another contract was made to finish the interior for seven hundred and fifty dollars. In an entry made in 1801, Fowler wrote, "Moved into my new House in Mary Street - it was finished in October. Lot and House and Well pump cost thirty nine hundred dollars."
What Fowler received for his money was a simple exterior with an elegant doorway. On the interior, mantels, wainscoting, molding and trim-all fine examples of the Robert Adam style-were installed and have remained with the house throughout its life.
Fowler built a typical, large five-bay house. It has a room in each corner with a central hallway leading to a long back kitchen. As do many Newport houses of this period, the Fowler House has a very Georgian feel to it, yet the interior trim represents Federal design trends with nicely done mantels, chair rails, and other details that are particularly Newport Federal in style.
Several additions were attached to the house over time. The first was probably the room to the rear, under a lean-to roof. The bay window on the west end was a nineteenth-century improvement. These additions were retained during the restoration. A one-story, twentieth century doctor's office on the east end, however, was removed.
Photo of the house before restoration.