Newport Restoration Foundation

ca. 1811 windmill on Prescott Farm

The Newport Restoration Foundation was founded by Doris Duke in 1968 in Newport, Rhode Island to preserve early housing stock including 18th century colonial homes. It is the largest collection of vernacular architecture in the Northeastern United States. In the 1960s, structures in Newport were threatened by redevelopment. Doris Duke purchased and restored over 83 individual houses under her direction. The entire project represents one of the largest preservation efforts undertaken in modern times and is currently led by Executive Director, Mark Thompson.[1][2]


The NRF own 78 significant historical properties, 72 of which are rented to tenants. 67 of the historic buildings are in Newport, and 8 buildings are museums. One of the historical properties includes Doris Duke's Rough Point which was built in 1891 and then added on to in 1924. Rough Point is a Newport mansion with a collection of European and Asian fine arts with works by Renoir, Thomas Gainsborough, Joshua Reynolds, and Sir Anthony Van Dyke. The property list also includes the Samuel Whitehorne House which was built in 1811, the William Vernon House built circa 1708 and added on to in 1759, and the Christopher Townsend House, built in 1728. In addition, the foundation runs Prescott Farm, an outdoor history site in Middletown, RI, as well as the Buloid-Perry House, King's Arms Tavern, and The Cotton House, which are rental properties.[3]

Recent ProjectsEdit

The Newport Restoration Foundation has been actively restoring and preserving historic buildings, a collection of the arts of cabinetmaking and building trades of the Newport region, and the art and artifacts from Doris Duke’s life in Newport. NRF also utilizes these collections for museum tours and educational programs that are open to the public. In regard to preservation, their most recent project (2015) was that Dayton-James House from 1757.[4] In 2005 the Foundation assisted in conducting the first dendrochronology survey of tree rings in several early buildings in Rhode Island to determine their construction dates, including the Wilbour-Ellery House.[5] In addition in 2013, the NRF led an effort to create a new park in Queen Anne’s Square by artist and architect Maya Lin, entitled “The Meeting Room”.[6]

Preservation advocacy and environmental concerns such as climate change are other areas in which NRF works in. For example, they held the Keeping History Above Water Conference in an attempt to protect historic properties from being affected by rising sea levels. Their next initiative is the establishment of The Research Center at the Newport Restoration Foundation, a program to advance scholarship and public knowledge in historic preservation, art history, architectural history and decorative arts.[7]


External linksEdit


  • Newport Restoration Foundation
  • 51 Touro Street
  • Newport, RI 02840