Newport is an extraordinary treasure trove of historic architecture spanning from the early days of Colonial settlement of New England and continuing up until the present day. Ten years ago, to help celebrate the amazing breadth and depth of architecture available for visitation here the Newport Architectural Forum in conjunction with the International Tennis Hall of Fame decided to host an symposium. As the Newport Casino Theater was just nearing completion in 2010, the work for Stanford White of McKim Mead and White was selected as the subject for the first symposium. That event was such a great success that the idea of making the symposium an annual event quickly arose. In the early years the works of a single notable architectural firm were selected for the topic and later, to keep the subjects fresh and interesting to attendees, more wide ranging topics were chosen.

The list of subjects the Annual Newport Symposium has addressed over the years is as wide-ranging and interesting as Newport’s Architecture itself:

2010: The Newport Architecture of Stanford White of McKim, Mead and White.

2011: The Newport Architecture of Peabody and Sterns;

2012: The Newport Architecture of Horace Trumbauer;

2013: The Design Collaboration of Ogden Codman and Edith Wharton;

2014: The Newport Architecture of Richard Morris Hunt;

2015: The Architecture of Newport: Eve of the Gilded Age;

2016: The Newport Architecture McKim Mead and White: After the Shingle Style;

2017: The Architecture of Newport’s Sporting Life;

2018: The Colonial Architectural Heritage of Newport.

As the symposium evolved efforts were made to choose topics and lectures which would engage the interests of the many people in the community who are interested in architecture, including architects, designers, clients and lovers of the subject. Ross Cann, founding Chairman of the Architectural Forum stated “The ten years have gone quickly, It is fun to think back on all the interesting lectures and tours that have occurred over the last decade and how many thousands of people had the opportunity to participate and tour examples of Newport’s exceptional architecture.”

This year the Newport Architectural Symposium is scheduled for Saturday May 25. The topic selected for the Symposium is “The Architecture and History of Newport’s Point Neighborhood.” Mr. Cann stated “No other area of Newport has as full a spectrum of buildings of each period of the city’s architectural development as does the Point. From the tiny gambrel saltbox houses like Pineapple House to Stick Style mansions of the mid-Nineteenth Century like Villa Marina to large Queen Anne revival shingle style houses built in the last decade on Washington Street, the Point is rich in architectural history.”

Villa Marina (Photo by Ross Cann)

After a continental breakfast, three lectures (of about 40 minutes each) will be delivered on the topics thematic to the symposium. The first lecture by Ross Cann, an architect and historian teaching at Salve Regina, will cover the architectural history of the neighborhood and provide the main characteristics of each of the various building styles present in the Point. The second lecture will be delivered by Trudy Coxe, the CEO and Executive Director of the Preservation Society of Newport County (PSNC) and will discuss the history of the preservation of Hunter House and how that event was critical to the creation of the PSNC. The last lecture will be delivered by Lisa Stuart, the Archivist of the Point Association, on the subject of Operation Clapboard and how the preservation of a group of Colonial houses in the 1960’s attracted the attention of Doris Duke and led to the creation of the Newport Restoration Foundation. After a catered lunch the assembly will be divided into three groups to tour about 20 buildings and structures in the Point neighborhood that have been important to the area’s architectural history and economic development. At the end of the tours the participants will gather in at Villa Marina to enjoy a late afternoon closing reception overlooking the water.

Hunter House (Photo via Ross Cann)

The Point neighborhood was cut in half in the 1970’s by the construction of America’s Cup boulevard and has the feeling today of an enclave, protected to a large degree from the tourist hustle and bustle of the rest of downtown Newport.  Because of the small size of the colonial houses on the afternoon tour, the number of symposium participants is more limited than in previous years, but some places are still available. Cost for the breakfast, three lectures, lunch, afternoon tours, and wine and cheese reception is $65 (or $50 for Architectural Forum members). Persons interested in learning more can visit or send an email to

Ross Cann concluded “attending the Symposium will be like time travelling through 400 years of Newport architectural history in a single day.”

Ross Sinclair Cann, AIA, LEED AP, is an historian, educator, author and practicing architect living and working in Newport for A4 Architecture and is founding Chairman of the Newport Architectural Forum. He holds Honors architectural Degrees from Yale, Cambridge and Columbia Universities.

The Newport Architectural Forum was founded in 2007 to help bring programming, panel discussions, exhibitions, tours and lectures to Newport County residents on the subjects of Architecture, Design, Landscaping and Planning. Since its inception it has planned or promoted hundreds of events that have been attended by many thousands of participants.


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