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 April to November.
Experience the only museum in the world specializing in 18th-century Newport furniture and related decorative arts.
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.
Celebrate excellence in historic preservation efforts within the City of Newport, Rhode Island.
Live amidst history by renting one of our many historic properties.
Help us to continue a lived-in legacy by becoming a Restoration Partner today.
40 School Street
The Sisson Collins House has survived, in large part, due to a succession of prominent owners who were able to adapt the structure to reflect changing tastes and fashions. The building underwent significant changes during three major periods of ownership and currently features a variety of architectural styles and ornaments.
Records show that James Sisson first owned this lot and built the house between 1738 and 1758. At that time, the house sat on the edge of Newport surrounded by significant amount of land appears on the Stiles Map (1758) as a simple two-story structure with a large gambrel roof. In 1796, Sisson's heirs sold the house to Caleb Green, who made few changes to the house.
In 1823, Charles Collins, Rhode Island's Lieutenant Governor (1824-1833), purchased the property and refashioned the house in the Greek Revival style that was popular in his day. His most significant change to the house was the conversion of the third floor into a ballroom space. To do this, Collins removed the angle of the gambrel roof, which flattened the façade of the house, and added large windows to the third level. A new entry, stairway, and modified interiors were required to accommodate the ballroom addition. During his period of ownership, Collins also purchased additional land on the western side of the property and constructed gardens and dependency buildings with views to the harbor.
The Collins family sold the house to Benjamin Finch, a successful businessman, in 1843. The only notable change during this period was the addition of a Victorian-style cupola. After Finch's death in 1895, the house was partitioned into apartments and three-story, block additions were periodically made to the sides and back of the house to provide for more apartment space.
The Newport Restoration Foundation purchased the house in 1974 and completed its restoration in 1975. Twentieth century additions were removed to restore the original shape and plan of the house's exterior. The interior, however, reflects alterations made to the building throughout its history in order to showcase the architectural and stylistic changes of American architecture in Newport.
Photo of the house before restoration.