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George Champlin Mason, Jr., House

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c. 1885, George Champlin Mason and Son. 15 Champlin St.

Houses in the Queen Anne Style are notable for asymmetrically grouped features folded around corner entrances. This pair offers contrasting treatments while displaying differences in overall massing on their sites. Facing on Rhode Island Avenue, a giant, multi-mullioned stained glass screen by John La Farge, under a horizontally distended shell hood, lights the interior stair of the Morris House. Around the corner on Champlin Street, an outside stair climbs to an elevated entrance and a broad Dutch door with bull's-eye glazing, this with its shell hood squeezed vertically off lush acanthus brackets. On the interior, the paneled entrance hall, now unfortunately painted white, becomes a vantage point from which to view the colored glory rising from its stair landing. If shell hoods were part of Newport's colonial heritage (more of them were still extant in the late nineteenth century than exist today), so the broad, bombé-curved eaves slashed across the front-facing cross gable from the wall below recall the similarly assertive effect of the coved treatment of the eaves in the famed late-seventeenth-century Wanton-Lyman Hazard House (see above). Here, in a typically Queen Anne manner, it provides a band of variously shaped windows to butt up against, cling to and rest upon.

Behind the Morris House, George Mason's son, newly made a partner in the firm, used the same high-cornered entrance stoop topped by a bedroom view porch for a vignetted view toward Easton's Bay, but this time set against a towerlike stack of triplet windows, each differently handled. Best of all is the way the asymmetrical slope of the roof binds the two disparate superimpositions of features while echoing both the pitch of the entrance stair and that of the site, whereas the cross gabling of the Morris House reinforces its corner site at the summit. Apart from the interest of their corner treatments, both houses present fairly stripped-down if competent versions of the Queen Anne Style. In this pair, unity of overall composition attracts less than piecemeal ingenuity of syntax.

Several more houses along Rhode Island Avenue between Francis and Kay Street are worth brief notice. Number 83 (c. 1866) shows George C. Mason, Sr., in his earlier Victorian manner, as witness the heavy timbering of the bracketed porch. Numbers 77 and 75 (1881–1882) are houses in the Queen Anne Style, both designed by Clarence Luce just before he briefly moved his practice to Newport from Boston and built for Thomas R. Hunter and Mary and Anne Stevens. While a fairly plain shingled house, the Hunter residence has a broad entablature at the front carved with a shell and ribbon frieze in a Renaissance Revival style but with an almost rococo flutter and delicacy that characterize much of Luce's ornament. The smaller Stevens house is more Colonial Revival in its decoration. Last in this row is number 67, the Matilda Lieber house (c. 1882), yet another shingled Queen Anne house, designed by Dudley Newton, with his characteristic decoratively curved porch roof.

Writing Credits

Author: 
William H. Jordy et al.
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Citation

William H. Jordy et al., "George Champlin Mason, Jr., House", [Newport, Rhode Island], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/RI-01-NE110.

Print Source

Buildings of Rhode Island, William H. Jordy, with Ronald J. Onorato and William McKenzie Woodward. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, 553-553.

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