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29 Touro Street
The Buliod-Perry House is a large three-story, five-bay house with a hip roof and two interior chimneys. Located on the original site, it is one of the few remaining eighteenth-century structures on Washington Square. The build date of c.1750 is supported by a record of Peter Buliod giving to Lewis Buliod the "large new house" in 1757. The house was purchased by the Newport Restoration Foundation (NRF) in 1973 and restored in 1976-77.
This house embraces elements of both the Georgian and Federal periods. On the exterior, Georgian elements are reflected in the doorway, the rusticated siding, and the general proportions of the building. Rusticated siding was an attempt to imitate stone with wood planking. Stone was the favored Georgian building material in eighteenth-century England, while the colonies made do with the plentiful supplies of wood to replicate stone. The rusticated wood siding was 'sanded' when the paint finish was applied in order to enhance the illusion of stone. With this method, sand was either added directly to the paint and applied to the siding or dusted onto the tacky surface after the paint was applied.
Some architectural historians feel the building may have been designed or influenced by Peter Harrison, an architect known to have drawn the Redwood Library (1747), Touro Synagogue (1763), and the Brick Market (1760), all Newport buildings. Harrison also is believed to have had a hand in some residential buildings such as the Vernon House (c.1760) in Newport and John Banister's summerhouse in Middletown, R.I. (built 1756, demolished), as well as other buildings now gone. Harrison could also have had a hand in or influence on the Buliod-Perry House, particularly if one makes a comparison to the Vernon House, although it must be emphasized that no conclusive evidence exists.
Federal elements in the Buliod-Perry House include the three-story façade and the shallow-pitched hip roof. One theory is that Perry, fresh from victory at Lake Erie (Battle of Lake Erie, 1813), bought and enlarged the building in the Federal style. This theory proposes that the structure was originally built in the Georgian style and appeared much as the Vernon House appears today, with two stories and a gambrel or hip-on-gambrel roof. Under Perry's ownership (or a previous owner), Federal elements such as the full third floor and shallow hip roof could have been added. It would be necessary, however, to examine and date the timbers in the third floor and roof in order to draw significant conclusions regarding this line of thinking. Since many houses of this style dominated both sides of Washington Square at the time, it would have been possible. Perry, flush from his naval successes, would also have been able, and perhaps desirous, for his residence to exhibit a certain degree of style.
The Perry family owned the building until 1865. After 1865, the building was used for various commercial ventures such as a market and restaurant, and finally in 1914 as a place of worship and meeting by the Salvation Army, from whom NRF purchased the building in 1973.
When acquired by NRF, the first floor of the building had long ago been gutted for these various uses, although original fabric did exist in small amounts on the second and third floors. NRF was able to acquire the staircase and paneling that had been saved from the eighteenth-century mansion house of Jahleel Brenton (demolished in the 1920s) and used these materials in the first-floor front rooms and in the stair hall.
Following the restoration in 1976-77, NRF commissioned a careful paint analysis of the house's exterior in 2001. Samples were taken from plank siding that had been protected by a building abutting the Buliod-Perry house to the west since about 1860. Further samples taken from a piece of original cornice on the south side supported the findings on the west side. Subsequently, the house was painted in what is believed to have been the exact original color of the house. This was made possible not only by modern paint analysis techniques, but with the unintentional protection provided by the abutting building for one hundred and forty years.
Photo of the house before restoration.