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67 Thames Street
The Richardson-Peckham House has a combination of roof styles that gives the impression the house had been cut short for some reason during its building. At the street side, the roof has a gable-on-hip profile, while the rear gable has a broad-pitched gambrel profile. With correct proportions, there would be about a third more depth to the structure and the rear roof would be the same style as the front. Built c.1735-55, the structure is on the original site and was purchased by the Newport Restoration Foundation (NRF) in 1968 and restored in 1972.
It is interesting to note that close by the house are two other houses with similar roof lines, the Job Bennett House (c.1721) at 44 Thames Street and the Christopher Townsend House (c.1725) at 74 Bridge Street. The Bennett House and the Richardson-Peckham House have very similar roofs and they also share the common feature of having a square floor plan. The Christopher Townsend House is a fully extended, end-to-the-street house with a gable-on-hip roof. If it were cut by a third on its depth, leaving the rear gable end in a truncated gambrel-roof form, the Townsend House would also resemble the Richardson-Peckham House.
When NRF purchased the house, the exterior was in a fairly complete form with a dentil cornice on three sides, a large interior chimney, indications of original window frames, and curiously, a Federal-style fanlight doorway. (This doorway was replaced by NRF during restoration with a pedimented doorway more appropriate to the date of the house.) Most of the interior period detail of the house, however, had been stripped out and all that remained were the frame, flooring, and chimney. Nevertheless, the chimney did reveal fireplace locations and clues to the room plan.
The original stairway was an important element that had been stripped from the house. The Federal doorway may have had something to do with this, since the original stairway would not have allowed space for the fanlight window. During restoration, NRF used the documented design of the stairway from the demolished Job Townsend House, which was similar in style and date to the Richardson-Peckham House. These two houses had also been located in the same neighborhood, as the Job Townsend House previously stood on the northwest corner of Bridge and Third Streets.
NRF has little in the way of documentation for the dates and ownership of the Richardson-Peckham House. Using the style of the house and what little detail remained as a guide, the house appears to have been built between 1735 and 1745. Other records indicate a building date as late as 1755. It was recorded that Henry Peckham sold this house, described by him as "his inheritance from Thomas Richardson," to Elizabeth Irish in 1785.
Photo of the house before restoration.