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Newport’s Famous Architecture the Focus of Two Special Events

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Nat Rea

The elegant brick mansion known as the Commodore William Edgar House was designed by McKim, Mead & White in 1886. (Neighborhoods of Newport House Tour, April 27.)

Stunning though the Gilded Age mansions of Bellevue Avenue may be, they are just the surface layer of a very deep architectural legacy in Newport, Rhode Island, one that reveals itself only on occasion. It is worth making a trip on not just one but two upcoming weekends for terrific events — one held annually, the other only every other year — that provide entrée to privately owned houses and estates.

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Sunday, April 27, 10 a.m to 5 p.m.
The 14th Neighborhoods of Newport House Tour.

A fundraiser for St. Michael’s Country Day School and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, both in Newport, this event has a reputation for getting the owners of architecturally significant houses to open their doors to the public every two years. Seven such properties are on this year's schedule including two houses by prominent late 19th-century architects McKim, Mead & White; an Italianate house by noted 1860s Newport house architect George Champlin Mason; an 1880s Shingle Style house by Boston architects Peabody & Stearns; a 1910 Federal-style house by Ogden Codman Jr.; a new home in classical style on a 15-acre property in the famed Ocean Drive area of the city, and a recently restored 18th-century farmhouse that will also be the setting for a book signing by California-based interior designer Barclay Butera. Tickets are $60, $50 each when purchasing four or more, and $75 after April 25, and can be bought online from the Neighborhoods of Newport House Tour. The one-day event begins at 10 a.m. on Sunday, April 27. It is sponsored by Franklin & Company Design Associates of Newport.

Saturday, May 3, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
International Tennis Hall of Fame 5th Annual Architectural Symposium.

The focus for this year’s all-day symposium is Richard Morris Hunt, a preeminent 19th century architect who studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and founded the American Institute of Architects. The largest concentration of Hunt-designed houses is found in Newport. The symposium (which has been growing in renown among design cognoscenti every year since being introduced five years ago) includes a lecture given in the beautifully restored McKim, Mead & White-designed Casino Theatre (circa 1880) on the grounds of the International Tennis Hall of Fame (which itself is a landmark designed by McKim, Mead & White), followed by lunch, and a tour of relevant Newport properties. The Hunt houses on the tour include Belcourt of Newport, a Bellevue Avenue mansion recently purchased and renovated by the owner of the successful jewelry company Alex and Ani. For reservation information go to the International Tennis Hall of Fame website.

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Nat Rea

Bellevue House, designed by Ogden Codman, Jr., in 1910, features a stunning rotunda with Adamesque ornamentation and a restored skylight. (Neighborhoods of Newport House Tour, April 27.)

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Nat Rea

The entry hall at Bellevue House includes original marble floor and iron stairway balustrade. (Neighborhoods of Newport House Tour, April 27.)

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Nat Rea

The Aubusson rug in the drawing room of Bellevue House is thought to be original to the 1910 house. (Neighborhoods of Newport House Tour, April 27.)

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Nat Rea

Bellevue House’s current owner had a new kitchen built with architectural elements echoing the house’s originals, such as columns and domed roof. (Neighborhoods of Newport House Tour, April 27.)

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Kevin Rinaldi-Young

The grounds of Bellevue House include architectural follies. (Neighborhoods of Newport House Tour, April 27.)

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The historic Paradise Farmhouse dates from the 1700s, and has been recently restored; it is on the grounds of the Norman Bird Sanctuary in Middletown, Rhode Island. For the house tour, it will also be the site of a book signing with designer Barclay Butera. (Neighborhoods of Newport House Tour, April 27.)

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Larry Lambrecht

This 2004 house by Ron DiMauro Architects of Jamestown is located on 15 stunning acres in the Ocean Drive area of Newport, and includes a main house and two additional cottages. (Neighborhoods of Newport House Tour, April 27.)

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Nat Rea

The new kitchen of the 1867 George Champlin Mason house known as Ossory House was designed by Newport’s Alec Tesa. (Neighborhoods of Newport House Tour, April 27.)


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Nat Rea

The elegant brick mansion known as the Commodore William Edgar House was designed by McKim, Mead & White in 1886. (Neighborhoods of Newport House Tour, April 27.)

Great design is always at your fingertips! Read Design New England's March/April 2014 issue online!