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Katherine Prescott Wormeley House

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c. 1876, Charles Follen McKim. 1882, probable later addition, McKim, Mead and White. 2 Red Cross Ave.

Built as a summer home for author and translator Katherine Prescott Wormeley of Boston when she was in her late sixties, this house is essentially in the form of a two-family residence—one facing southwest toward Red Cross Avenue, the other opening out at the opposite end onto Sears Court, a small, disused lane to the north. The second earliest residence by any member of McKim, Mead and White still standing in the city, it is less resolved in its integration of exterior massing and ornamental skin than its neighbors. On its primary facade, facing Red Cross, the Wormley house is composed of two intersecting blocks, one with its street-facing gabled end projecting from a covelike support. At their junction, a three-story tower capped by an exotic, metal-sheathed onion dome is inserted like a hinge pin. The north entry seems more conventional with a gabled roofline and an entrance porch, now screened. Inside the Red Cross Avenue entrance are an entry hall and adjacent rooms decorated with tongue-and-groove paneling and an ornate oriel window at the stairwell landing. On the Old Beach Road facade, this window creates a cylindrical glazed projection rising two stories from stone foundation to roofline.

Red Cross Avenue, like nearby Sunnyside Place and Oakwood Terrace, was laid out when the large gentleman's farm-estate owned by David Sears of Boston was divided into smaller lots in the 1870s. Sears's ample Gothic Revival house, Red Cross Cottage, still stands at the head of Sears Court (its entrance is now on Oakwood Terrace). It was branded with a redcross-shaped pattern in its now stuccoed brickwork, which suggested its own name as well as that for the nearby avenue. Although it has been stripped of ornate trim, its group of steeply rising gables is a reminder of an earlier cottage style.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.


What's Nearby


William H. Jordy et al., "Katherine Prescott Wormeley 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, 549-550.

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