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.
Tour Doris Duke’s art-filled mansion and enjoy panoramic ocean views from the extensive grounds, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. Open April to November.
Experience the only museum in the world specializing in 18th-century Newport furniture and related decorative arts.
Explore 40 acres of open space, a tribute to the agrarian heritage of Aquidneck Island. The site is open daily from dawn to dusk for public enjoyment.
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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72 Spring Street
The New Jersey Farm House, built c. 1800, is a one-and-a-half-story building with a gable roof and two end chimneys. The house originally stood in Somerville, New Jersey where the Duke family estate, Duke Farms, is located. It was purchased by the Newport Restoration Foundation (NRF) in 1974, then dismantled and trucked to Newport where it was stored until a building site could be located. Once the current site was found and the building moved, the house was reconstructed and restored in 1976-77.
When NRF bought the house in 1974, several houses and barns in the Somerville area were slated for demolition. Miss Duke wanted to salvage materials, particularly framing timbers, to be used for restoration projects in Newport. This particular house, however, offered more than salvage material. It was complete enough in terms of framing, interior fabric, and general condition, that disassembly and reassembly at another site was feasible. The house was then measured, disassembled, and the pieces relocated to Newport for storage.
The following year, the Redevelopment Agency of Newport took over a deteriorating brick apartment building on Spring Street. This five-story building had once been in reasonable condition, if not a bit out of scale with the area. However, a fire resulted in the removal of the remains of the fifth floor and the building began a downward spiral that, over the years, culminated in its virtual abandonment by the owner.
For reasons not altogether clear, the Agency took over both the apartment building at 72 Spring Street, along with a house much modified, but of eighteenth-century origins at 74 Spring Street (the Buffum-Redwood House). NRF then applied to the Redevelopment Agency to be the preferred developer for both of these properties, planning to reassemble the New Jersey house on the cleared property at #72 and restore the house at #74. Once the application was approved, the land was transferred to NRF in 1975, and reconstruction of the New Jersey House on the site began in 1976.
There is little to confuse the New Jersey House with a Newport eighteenth- or early nineteenth-century building, as differences between the building styles of the two regions in terms of such elements as scale and fenestration were broad and self-evident. What may be confusing is why the house was relocated to its current site. There are no detailed explanations in the NRF records, but one can assume that Miss Duke played a major role in deciding the location.
Photo of the house before restoration.