Job Peckham, owner of Newport's largest lumberyard in the mid-nineteenth century, built a trio of nearly identical houses as year-round residences, number 33 Kay Street as his own home and the others on speculation, number 30 for Joseph Bailey and number 26 for John and Fanny Irish. All are blown-up versions of what would have originated as fairly modest hip-roofed cottages with bracketed eaves and a centered gable. Here the prototype is enlarged to Victorian scale; the gables are spread and the widely spaced doubled brackets aggrandized. Though slightly varied in their ornamentation, the porches across the fronts all have bulbous columns flanking the entrance steps that appear part Moorish, part Egyptian. Each hipped roof is ringed with dormer windows, but only the Irish House retains its ornate cupola, a detail that originally crowned all three of these substantial houses.
A number of similar houses along Kay Street were built during the initial quarter century of its development, between 1850 and 1875, including 20 Kay Street, with its unique scalloped brackets around the porch, and 11 Kay Street, with an earlier, neoclassical colonnade.