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KINGSCOTE

Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI

Kingscote (1839-1841), off of Bellevue Avenue in Newport, Rhode Island, is a charming landmark of the Gothic Revival style in American architecture. Its appearance in Newport marked the beginning of the “cottage boom” that would distinguish the town as a veritable laboratory for the design of picturesque houses throughout the 19th century.   The southern planter George Noble Jones of Savannah, Georgia commissioned the English born architect Richard Upjohn to design a summer cottage along a country road, known as Bellevue Avenue, on the outskirts of town.  Upjohn created a highly original “cottage orne,” or ornamental cottage, in the Gothic Revival style for the Jones family. The general effect was romantic- a fanciful composition of towers, windows, Gothic arches and porch roofs inspired by medieval tournament tents.  In the 1860's (approximately 1864), the Jones cottage was acquired by the William Henry King family of Newport  -- a merchant who had acquired a fortune in the China Trade -- and named “Kingscote.” The house became the repository of three centuries/generations of the King family’s collections, including 18th century Newport furniture by the Townsends and Goddards, Chinese Trade export paintings, furniture, porcelains, ivories and stone carvings.

In 1880-1881, the newly founded firm of McKim, Mead and White was commissioned to design the dining room.  The room combines Colonial American details with exotic ornament - reflecting the architects’ interest in combining eastern and western motifs.  The innovative use of materials was also important, such as cork tiles as a covering for the wall frieze and ceiling, and an early instance of opalescent glass bricks by Louis Comfort Tiffany.

Today, Kingscote is a National Historic Landmark and is an owned and operated property of The Preservation Society of Newport County.  It is a rare example of a Gothic Revival house and landscape setting preserved intact with original family collections.


dining room
McKim, Mead and White dining room, added 1881
tiffany glass
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Tiffany decanter and glasses with Tiffany opalescent window

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