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.
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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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6 Cross Street
The King's Arms Tavern is a sizeable, two-and-a-half-story building with a large central chimney. The roof is hipped on the street end and gabled on the other. Built c.1720, the house stands on its original site. The Newport Restoration Foundation (NRF) purchased the house in 1968 and restored it in 1973.
This building may, in fact, have parts of its structure dating from the late seventeenth century, or it may have been built in an older style at a later time. Records of any certainty can only be traced to 1721. The chimney and its fireplaces give substance to speculation about earlier construction, since the two main first-floor fireplaces are built with curved sidewalls and there is a cove above the fireplace lintel. These elements are indicative of seventeenth-century Newport construction techniques.
The house began life as a smaller building, perhaps a two-room plan of one or two stories. The addition across the back was added and the roof was probably redone at that point to encompass the larger house. The two different end treatments is quite an odd feature on a Newport house, but framing evidence indicates that this was intentional, even though the reasoning remains obscure.
Records from 1721 indicate that Thomas Walker sold a "Dwelling House, Tan Falls, and other buildings" to Captain Edmund Thurston. Tanning was a thriving industry in mid-eighteenth-century Newport, and Walker and Thurston were only two of several recorded owners of tanning businesses. In 1773, Abigail Stoneman opened the building as a coffee house "at the sign of the King's Arms" and mention of the property as a tavern or inn appears in newspapers of the period.
The building had been a rooming/apartment house for many years before it was purchased by NRF. By then, having been deemed unfit for habitation, it had already stood empty for four or five years and had suffered a great deal of decay and abuse. NRF performed extensive structural work to the timber frame of this house during restoration.
Photo of the house before restoration.