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Vernon House, a national historic landmark, has a rich architectural and social history. The Newport Restoration Foundation has stewarded the William Vernon House (c. 1708) at 46 Clarke Street since 2009. Perhaps best known for playing host to Comte de Rochambeau during the French occupation of Newport (1780-1781), the Vernon House is connected to many integral stories within Newport’s history.

From its construction in 1708 until the late 19th century, the house was owned by merchants and slave trading families involved in Newport’s political, economic, religious, and civic life, including the Vernon family (1774-1872). Generations of enslaved individual men, women, and children of African and Indigenous heritage lived and worked in the house. In the early 20th century, it housed a philanthropic social welfare and housing organization. During this period, a series of remarkable 18th century chinoiserie murals were uncovered in the first floor parlor. Due to the care of its many stewards through over centuries generations, the Vernon House has faced relatively few major alterations since its 1760 renovation by owner Metcalf Bowler.

In 2009, the family donated the house to NRF on the condition that it continue to be used as a home for their daughter. When the house was vacated in 2018, NRF started envisioning the property’s future. NRF embarked on a Historic Structures Report (HSR) over the next several years—a deep dive into the history of the property and its inhabitants. An HSR studies a property from every perspective to fully understand the history of the resource, its current condition, and the work needed to ensure its future preservation.

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