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Commodore William G. Edgar House

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1886, McKim, Mead and White. 25 Old Beach Rd.
  • Commodore William G. Edgar House (John M. Miller)

The Edgar House is the last completed of a half dozen houses associated with the firm of McKim, Mead and White grouped within two blocks. By the time it was designed, the architects were beginning to abandon the shingled picturesqueness typical of their early houses in favor of the formality that characterizes the style for which the firm became famous. For much of their domestic architecture, this meant the American Colonial Revival. In the Edgar House, the central Palladian window and the restraint, essential symmetry, and crisp linear quality of the details generally invoke eighteenth-century American precedents, but the sculptural chimneys at either side of a balustraded roof deck, the roofline, and the brick walls specifically suggest Tidewater Virginia colonial antecedents.

Yet even here, the asymmetry and variety of motifs persists from the firm's earlier houses: polygonal bay against semicircular, with different window treatments; an oval window in the blank wall of a two-story service wing at one end of the house counterpoised with the open airiness of the gazebo-like pavilion at the other end. The yellow ocher Roman brick is not in fact typical of the eighteenth century, nor is the low, spreading quality of the massing. The interior, now turned into apartments (not open to the public), still contains a front-to-rear entrance hall with fireplace, a dining room, a music room, and a library with fine woodwork and built-in cabinetry.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.


What's Nearby


William H. Jordy et al., "Commodore William G. Edgar House", [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, 547-548.

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