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Vernon House, a national historic landmark, has a rich architectural and social history. In 1758, Metcalf Bowler, a wealthy merchant purchased a small but elegant house at the corner of Clarke, and Mary Streets. He quickly expanded the house to its current form around 1760. In 1773 it was purchased by another wealthy Newport merchant, William Vernon.
William Vernon, a merchant, slave-trader, and a well known supporter of the American rebellion and later the president of the Eastern Naval Board (precursor to the Department of the Navy), lived at Vernon House from 1773 to 1806. However, as an ardent patriot, he left Newport for an extended period during the British occupation in the Revolutionary War in order to take his family to safety. During his absence, the Comte de Rochambeau, leader of the French forces in America, used the house as his headquarters. During the week of March 6, 1781, George Washington came to stay at Vernon House and it is believed that important strategic plans were discussed in between a round of formal celebrations in honor of Washington's visit.

One of the most remarkable features of the house is a set of 18th century murals which were uncovered during a 1937 restoration. The murals are thought to be a unique survival from the time period.

Vernon House was added to the NRF's collection of historic homes in 2009. It was donated by the late Margaretta M. Clulow, an artist and a designer, whose family has owned the house from 1964 until her death in 2009. Throughout her ownership, Mrs. Clulow was an extraordinary steward of the property, preserving the house carefully and allowing access for scholars, preservationists, and enthusiasts.

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