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Isaac Bell House

The Isaac Bell House, off of Bellevue Avenue in Newport, Rhode Island, is one of the best surviving examples of wood frame, shingle style architecture in the country.  The large, residential, temperate climate house was designed by the firm of McKim, Mead and White in 1881 and completed in 1883 for Isaac Bell, a wealthy cotton broker and investor.  After passing through a succession of owners, the Isaac Bell House was acquired in 1994 and purchased in 1996 by the Preservation Society of Newport County.  In 1997, the Isaac Bell House was designated a National Historic Landmark.  The house underwent completed exterior restoration in 1998.  The Preservation Society was renovating it when S&L visited the Bell House on Sunday afternoon, April 18th, 1999 during its limited opening as a work in progress.

Conservators with The Preservation Society of Newport County, [424 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI; (401) 847-1000 ext. 131; FAX: (401) 847-9477] installed a restored inglenook into the fireplace alcove of the living hall at the Isaac Bell House as part of its undergoing interior restoration on Wednesday, February 3rd, 1999.  Crafted of darkly stained oak panels, the inglenook, while original to the house, was actually formed from salvaged fragments of box beds and armoires first used in 18th and 19th century Brittany.

"Overall, the Bell house represents the creative interplay of the talents of the three partners in the early 1880s.  None appears to have dominated the commission.  The elusive historical features of the design, while seen in a positive light many years later, proved troublesome at the same time, for Americans of the 1880s wanted a specificity of association not present in a modernized Colonial style."

—Richard Guy Wilson. McKim, Mead & White Architects. 1983.

From here you may continue on a tour of all the mansions we have visited within Rhode Island in the order that we have seen them, go to an overview of all those RI mansions, go back to our Rhode Island page, or return to the beginning of S&L's Adventures Emporium.