Newport Through Its Architecture

A History of Styles from Postmedieval to Postmodern

James Yarnall

A remarkable coincidence of unplanned historical events has preserved Newport, Rhode Island’s architectural heritage in a way that is rare among American cities. Newport has the largest number of pre-Revolutionary War buildings in North America, with some 800 in its old historic districts. In the nineteenth century, Newport was the summer home to America’s most prominent families and patrons of outstanding architecture. With a diverse range of styles, Newport exemplified the greatness of mid-nineteenth-century American architecture. As Newport gained social importance in the 1880s, the Bellevue Avenue and Ochre Point neighborhoods became the sites of lavish Beaux-Arts palatial residences. Newport’s twentieth-century architecture explored all modern currents, ranging from progressive Bauhaus functionalism as it evolved into the International Style of the 1950s to more conservative Art Deco and Scandinavian Modernism. After 1975, the postmodern era gave rise to a spirit of preservation and adaptive reuse, inspiring the Modern Traditionalism of architects such as Robert A. M. Stern. In a more vernacular vein, postmodern shopping centers, restaurants, and commercial establishments provided fertile ground for an especially well-informed postmodern kitsch.

Cloth: $50
ISBN-13: 9781584654919
Pages: 324 | Size: 8.5 in. x 11 in.
Date Published: August 18, 2005


  • From Peter Harrison to Pietro Belluschi, Newport’s architects and builders have left a remarkable legacy of great-and often groundbreaking-design. Happily, a strong local commitment to preservation (such as that demonstrated by Salve Regina University) has kept much of this legacy intact-and now Professor James Yarnall has produced a book that celebrates this historic city’s treasures with exemplary scholarship and clarity. These pages should inspire everyone who cares about America’s architectural heritage to schedule a trip to Newport right away.

    Richard Moe
    President, National Trust for Historic Preservation
  • Makes a significant contribution, not only to the history of architecture in Newport, but also to the history of architecture in the United States . . . descriptive enough to satisfy the architectural scholar, while at the same time explanatory enough to allow the casual reader to appreciate the field.

    M. Hunter Ulf
    Vice President, New England Chapter, American Institute of Architects

About the Author

James L. Yarnall

James L. Yarnall is an assistant professor in the Department of Art at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island, where he teaches art and architectural history. He also offers courses in the University’s Cultural and Historic Preservation Program.

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