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Joseph Reynolds House

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By 1698. 956 Hope St.

The Joseph Reynolds house, despite alterations and losses, is among the best-preserved early houses of New England. Its astonishing features are a coved plaster cornice, rare bolection moldings in the interior, and a three-story stair of almost Elizabethan heaviness. Despite the vicissitudes of time, it is possible to see here a grand house of the seventeenth century, a provincial reflection of English taste of a half-century earlier.

The Reynolds house followed the typical Massachusetts two-room center-hall plan with twin chimney stacks in the back wall, although the entrance was oriented to the west and to the street, rather than to the south. In the eighteenth century the plan was expanded to accommodate two rooms at the rear of the first and second stories, giving the house its saltbox roof configuration. The facade's coved plaster cornice, a provincial interpretation of seventeenth-century English prototypes, is one of two remaining Rhode Island examples. (The other may be seen at the Wanton-Lyman-Hazard House in Newport [ NE5].) The interior is uncommonly well preserved (original paint schemes survived into the 1940s): the northwest rooms on the first and second stories display rare heavy bolection-molded paneling, among the most important examples of this finish that survive from early colonial America. The scrupulous manner in which the house was preserved is due in part to the tradition that Lafayette stayed in the northeast room of the second floor here, during the blockade of Newport in September 1778.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.


What's Nearby


William H. Jordy et al., "Joseph Reynolds House", [Bristol, Rhode Island], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

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