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428 Thames Street
The John Whitehorne House, circa 1750, is on its original site. It is a two story, five bay, shallow hipped-roofed Georgian house with two interior chimneys. The floor plan has a central hallway - front to back - with the stairway on the back wall. There are four primary rooms on each floor, one in each corner. The house has a restrained Georgian elegance, which may owe much to the Quakers who had a strong influence on the look of 18th century Newport, both in the design of buildings and furniture. The Newport Restoration Foundation purchased the house in 1969 and restored it in 1974-75.
The exterior of this house is simple and the pediment doorway is the main design feature. This is supported by the symmetry of the fenestration and the use of simple, but forceful trim on the cornice, water table, and window frames. The interior exhibits fine features of Georgian design. The hallway has a great stairway with two runs and a comfortable mid-landing, which is complimented by turned balusters, raised wainscot paneling and a heavy cornice molding. The rooms are simple, yet elegant in proportion and detail. Most have raised panel wainscoting and chimneybreasts, cased posts, substantial cornice moldings, and the typical Newport mid-18th century window and sash treatment.
Henry Hunter is listed as the first owner and probably built the house in the 1750s. In 1794, Samuel Whitehorne Sr. (1744-1796) purchased the property which, in the 18th century, stretched much further east toward Spring Street than today's small lot would indicate. In addition to this house, a rum distillery was included in the sale. Samuel's son John Whitehorne inherited the property and continued to run the distillery and a tannery here. Samuel Whitehorne (1779-1844), John's brother and business partner in rum production and maritime trading, built a brick mansion just a block up the street (416 Thames Street) in 1811. Samuel lived there with his wife Elizabeth and family until he went bankrupt in 1843.
The northwest first floor corner room of the John Whitehorne House had been a bar/tavern from at least 1900. For this use, the floor had been removed and a new floor at street level had been installed. During restoration, NRF rebuilt the foundations in this area, installed a new floor at the original level, and used existing room fabric to pattern the details for this room. Other rooms in the house contained a considerable percentage of original fabric.
Photo of the house before restoration.