Skip to main content Skip to home page

Beginning in 1721, the Benjamin Howland House was built in three stages. The center, one-and-a-half-story gambrel roof section was built during the first quarter of the eighteenth century. The ell was added sometime later and finally, around 1795, a small, two-story, two-bay section was built.

The building originally stood in Dartmouth, Massachusetts where, in 1969, it was threatened with imminent demolition by the property owner. In the same year, the Newport Restoration Foundation (NRF) purchased the house, disassembled it, and stored it until a site in Newport could be determined. The structure was then restored on the Bridge Street site in 1974 -75.

The deteriorated condition of certain structural elements of the house in 1969 dictated that the center section, as well as some of the ell, was all that could reasonably survive disassembly. Much of the detailing, however, was still in fine condition and these original trim materials, such as doors, fireplace surrounds, some board walls and simple paneling, remained with the building. Many of the original main beams have also been left in the house.

Two primary heated rooms on the first floor have small, unheated rooms located in corners away from the chimney. The second floor, accessed by the original steep stairway, has two small bedchambers with interesting sliding roof windows. It is not known whether these are original, but they are a very early feature.

The house is one of ten buildings either moved to or reassembled in Newport from locations outside of the city proper. In the history of the NRF, eight buildings originally from locations off Aquidneck Island (on which the city of Newport is located) were reassembled in Newport. Two others, one from Middletown and one from Portsmouth, were also reassembled there. The latter two, although from the same island, reflect a more rural style than the urban architecture found in the thriving seaport town of eighteenth-century Newport.

Preservation property detailimage

Photo of the house before restoration.

Back to top