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Newport Reading Room

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c. 1835. 1850s, renovations and addition, George Champlin Mason, Sr. 29 Bellevue Ave. (not open to the public)

This comfortable house with a capacious porch and the aspect of a country inn is unassuming architecturally. From its founding, however, it became the elite club in Newport, its cachet uncontested until the building of the nearby Newport Casino. Originally designed in a simple Federal style as a residentially scaled hotel, it was renovated for use as a private men's club in the mid-1850s when the porch was added. It was here that a socially prominent but devil-may-care guest of James Gordon Bennett rode his horse into the members' lounge on a dare. When Bennett was reprimanded, he retaliated by commissioning the casino, taking with him many of the younger members of the Reading Room and giving to fashionable Newport a more active and public center for summer recreation. George Mason, who designed the spacious, two-story, monitor-roofed billiard room addition, was one of two nineteenth-century architects to be a member; Richard Morris Hunt was the other.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.


What's Nearby


William H. Jordy et al., "Newport Reading Room", [Newport, Rhode Island], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Rhode Island, William H. Jordy, with Ronald J. Onorato and William McKenzie Woodward. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, 554-555.

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