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Reverend Resolved Waterman, Sr.–James Winsor House

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Pre-1735. c. 1780, gambrel-roofed ell to rear. Late 19th century–early 20th century, barns. Late 20th century, restoration. 85 Austin Ave.

The oldest and most commanding of the Austin Avenue houses, the so-called Waterman–Winsor House, has a four-bay front with a large, slightly off-center chimney which has been reduced in size and a gambrel-roofed ell to the rear, curiously offset from one corner of the house. It again displays the tendency for early houses to face south on a slight rise regardless of orientation to the road. The jutting attic gables over both side elevations are a surprising anachronism going back to the seventeenth century. Then, and into the early eighteenth century, it continued a medieval tradition of attic projections seemingly designed to squeeze extra space from tight sites in crowded towns, before also becoming something of a style feature. But what does it mean for a house of 1774? Is it a gratuitous later elaboration to make “restoration” more colorful? The handsome, pedimented door may also have been part of an extensive late twentieth-century restoration, when an added Colonial Revival porch was ripped from the front. A group of much later outbuildings, probably from the nineteenth century, angled to one another for reasons of site and function, make a picturesque grouping.

The house came into James Winsor's ownership in 1861. His son, Thomas, expanded his father's property and orchards after 1903, making it the largest apple business in Rhode Island until the mid-1950s. His death at this time, followed by severe hurricane damage to the orchard in 1954, led to the gradual sale of most of the farm for the suburban development which now impinges on the ancient manse.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.


What's Nearby


William H. Jordy et al., "Reverend Resolved Waterman, Sr.–James Winsor House", [Smithfield, 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, 252-253.

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