Today, the Preservation Society of Newport County announced that two of its oldest houses – one sporting a new exterior paint job that is more historically accurate, the other offering a new interpretation of its long history – will open daily for tours starting Tuesday, May 30.
Kingscote was built in 1839-1841 and expanded in the 1880s by the King family, which made its fortune in the China Trade. Recent paint analysis commissioned by the Preservation Society revealed the house’s color at the time of the expansion, which is interpreted as its period of historical significance. The color applied to the house this spring is a grayish brown, darker than the “battleship gray” the house had worn for the past several decades.
The house is noted for its Gothic Revival style, intricate interior woodwork, dining room wall made of opalescent Tiffany glass blocks, and mementos of the King family’s time in the China Trade.
Tours of Kingscote are self-guided; admission is by the One-Property, Duo, Trio or Access Pass ticket, or free with membership in the Preservation Society.
Hunter House, built circa 1748 on Newport’s waterfront as the residence of a wealthy merchant family, is one of the most significant of the city’s many colonial houses. During the Revolutionary War, it was used as the headquarters of Admiral de Ternay, commander of the French fleet, when French forces occupied Newport in 1780. It passed through many owners before 1945, when the Preservation Society was formed to purchase and restore it.
Recent research into documents such as probate records and newspaper advertisements revealed information about the enslaved people of African descent who lived and worked at Hunter House. In 2022, the Preservation Society introduced a new guide-led tour that tells visitors about these almost-forgotten people along with the wealthy merchants who owned the house.
The Northeast Parlor of Hunter House appeared in HBO’s “The Gilded Age,” written by Julian Fellowes of “Downton Abbey” fame, as the office of lawyer Tom Raikes.
From May 30 through July 30, guide-led tours will be offered six times per day at Hunter House. A special timed ticket is required, and advance purchase is recommended through www.newportmansions.org/tickets. Preservation Society members are admitted for free but must make a reservation by logging in at www.NewportMansions.org or by contacting our Membership staff at (401) 847-1000, ext. 111.
The Preservation Society of Newport County, Rhode Island, is a nonprofit organization accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. It is dedicated to preserving and interpreting the area’s historic architecture, landscapes, decorative arts and social history. Its 11 historic properties – seven of them National Historic Landmarks – span more than 250 years of American architectural and social development.
For more information, please visit www.NewportMansions.org.