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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422 Thames Street
The James Boone House sits on the original site where it was built c.1795. The building has a gable-roof structure with a center chimney and an exceptional Federal fanlight doorway. Basically, it is and presumably was, a four-bay, or modified square-plan house, a type very popular in Newport and the Narragansett Basin from the mid-eighteenth century to about 1815. Unfortunately, it lost nearly all traces of eighteenth-century Federal detail and style over the years. The building was purchased in 1969 by the Newport Restoration Foundation (NRF) and restored in 1973-74.
Had the Samuel Whitehorne House (a Federal mansion owned by NRF and slated by Miss Duke to become a museum) not been next door, NRF probably would not have bought the Boone House, so slight were the original materials still extant in the building. However, some minimal evidence of the interior of the original house did remain. Repaired joists and flooring indicated the location and approximate size of the center chimney, and bits of chair rail and cornice molding gave indications of the style of detail the house had once possessed.
During restoration, a new chimney was constructed that was based on those indicators found in the house and walls, for the rooms were "penciled in" using the many existing examples in Newport for guidance (including some within NRF's own growing collection). The four-bay plan offered a few key guides and did not leave much speculation as to where interior wall petitions and doors were to be located.
For elements such as doors, mantle pieces, a stairway, and molding, those defining elements that give a period house its character and which were missing entirely from the Boone House, NRF used materials inventoried in its warehouse.
The temptation to turn basement junk and back yard piles into cash was an ongoing side occupation for many in the Newport area at the time, and there was a regular traffic in bits and pieces of old houses. The result of this activity was that NRF accumulated a sizable collection of original architectural elements. It was an inventory of materials of this sort that was essential to the restoration or recreation of houses like the James Boone House.
Photo of the house before restoration.