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The William Vernon House (circa 1708 & 1760) is one of the most historically significant buildings in Newport, Rhode Island.

The house is connected to many integral stories within Newport’s history. The house:

  • beginning in the early 18th-century, was owned by merchants and slave traders. Generations of enslaved lived and worked in the house
  • played a central role in the French occupation of Newport (1780-1781)
  • housed a philanthropy serving social welfare and housing needs for the first half of the 20th-century
  • was restored in the late-20th-century to its ca.1760 floorplan

More about the Vernon House:

Located on Clarke Street, the home played a critical role during the American Revolution. Beginning in July 1780, the Comte de Rochambeau, Commander-in-Chief of the French forces, used the home as his headquarters. Both George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette visited Rochambeau at the house during his time in Newport. Perhaps the most notable feature of the home was discovered in 1937, when water infiltration required the removal of the paneling in the northwest parlor. Underneath, workers found a series of sixteen remarkable chinoiserie panels.



NRF received the William Vernon House from a donor in 2009, however, a member of the donor’s family occupied it for nine years. NRF’s full stewardship of the home began in 2018. Having now been entrusted with preserving this amazing resource, NRF wants to be certain that each step it takes in the preservation process is thoughtful. NRF worked with Spencer, Sullivan & Vogt, an Architecture and Preservation firm in Charlestown, Mass., to complete a grant-funded Historic Structure Report  A Historic Structure Report studies a property from every perspective to fully understand the history of the resource, its current condition, and the work needed to ensure its future preservation. This was the first comprehensive report of this kind performed on this home.



NRF recognized that the Historic Structure Report provided an ideal engagement and education opportunity by both literally and figuratively opening the doors of the William Vernon House to the public. NRF is bringing you along for the journey through a video series entitled Behind the Walls: Uncovering the History of Vernon House.

To support NRF in our efforts to preserve the William Vernon House, as well as our other historic properties, please consider making a gift today.



NRF thanks the following foundations for generously funding this project:

Alletta Morris McBean Charitable Trust

EJMP Fund for Philanthropy

Herman H. Rose Civic Cultural and Media Access Fund at the Rhode Island Foundation

Johanna Favrot Fund for Historic Preservation of the National Trust for Historic Preservation

van Beuren Charitable Foundation

Behind the Walls: Uncovering the History of Vernon House

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