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.
Visit Doris Duke’s art-filled mansion and enjoy panoramic ocean views from the extensive grounds. Open late March to November.
The Vernon House is a site for expansive story-telling, contemporary dialogue, and preservation trades skill-building.
Newport Restoration Foundation holds one of the largest collections of period architecture owned by a single organization anywhere in the United States.
Celebrate excellence in historic preservation efforts within the City of Newport, Rhode Island.
Live amidst history by renting one of our many historic properties.
Rough Point as you experience it today is so inextricably linked to Doris Duke that it is easy to forget the property had a number of other owners, each of whom made changes to suit their needs. In the illustrated timeline below we offer a brief overview of owners, significant events, and changes from the late 19th-century to the present.
Frederick W. Vanderbilt purchases and combines two parcels of land at the south end of Bellevue Avenue, razes the existing two wooden villas, and commissions the Boston architectural firm Peabody & Stearns to build a summer "cottage" in the style of a stately English manor. Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted is hired to design the grounds.
Louise Vanderbilt hosts a Lawn Fete at Rough Point in August 1905 to benefit the Newport Society for the Relief and Prevention of Tuberculosis and raises over $16,000.
Photo from Lawn-Fete 1905 (leather bound photo album with silver gelatin prints). Collection of the Newport Restoration Foundation.
William B. Leeds, railroad magnate and so-called "tin plate king" purchases Rough Point. He dies in June 1908 and his widow, Nancy Leeds, and son William Jr. stay on for just a few more seasons. A new circular driveway is created and the wooden porches are removed from the ocean facing side of the house.
Photograph commissioned by the Olmsted design firm, September 1916. Courtesy of the National Park Service, Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site.
James B. Duke, founder of the American Tobacco Company and Duke Energy, purchases Rough Point. He commissions Philadelphia-based architect Horace Trumbauer to renovate and enlarge the house and improve the landscape. New interior finishes are designed by the London firm White Allom & Company.
Rough Point under renovation, 1923. Photo courtesy of The Preservation Society of Newport County.
James B. Duke passes away, leaving his entire estate, including Rough Point, to daughter Doris.
Doris Duke under the Cliff Walk Bridge at Rough Point, 1925. Courtesy of Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Historical Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University, Durham, NC.
The Hurricane of 1938 damages large stretches of coastline in Newport and elsewhere in Rhode Island; Rough Point suffers the loss of several trees. In 1954 Hurricane Carol follows a similar path of devastation, washing out the Cliff Walk Bridge designed by Frederick Law Olmsted.
Rough Point is closed and the contents sold, given away, or sent to other properties owned by Duke; the estate is briefly offered for sale and then proposals for long-term lease are considered.
Photo of Falcon Lair, Doris Duke's Los Angeles house, with Palma Vecchio Annunciation from the Rough Point Dining Room. Courtesy of Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Historical Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University, Durham, NC.
Doris Duke gives her family's 5th Avenue mansion (1 East 78th Street) to New York University to house its graduate art history program. She relocates the art collection and other contents from the New York house to Rough Point and reestablishes a seasonal residence in Newport.
Doris Duke at Rough Point, ca. 1957-1958. Photo by Joe Castro. Courtesy of Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Historical Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University, Durham, NC.
Princess and Baby, Doris Duke's beloved Bactrian camels, spend the first of five summers on the lawn of Rough Point. The infamous pair were tough on the grounds but are remembered fondly through the camel topiaries added to the property in 2008.
Doris Duke dies on October 28 and leaves Rough Point to the Newport Restoration Foundation with the instruction that it be operated as a museum in the manner of the other "summer cottages" in Newport.
Rough Point opens for public tours. One master bedroom and a large section of the service wing on the second floor are converted into gallery spaces, but the house is otherwise left largely as it was lived in by Doris Duke from 1957 to 1993.