Situated where Little Buffalo Creek meets the Juniata River, the town, originally named Reider's Ferry, was founded in 1804. When the canal was built along Front Street in 1830, it was renamed Newport and rapidly developed into a regional commercial and industrial hub. Factories, forges, and tanneries formed an industrial district close to the canal and at the town's outskirts. The Jones/Myers Warehouse (c. 1817) facing the Juniata at 25 N. Front Street is the earliest building in Newport. At Penn Alley and Front Street stands the Beatty Livery Stable (1876), a two-story brick factory where wagons and sleighs were manufactured. Two feed mills are still operating in the town limits: the low frame buildings of Fickes Mill (1910) on N. 3rd Street and the towering wood, concrete, and steel grain storage facilities of Wentzel and Sons Feed Mill (1940) at S. 4th Street and Bloomfield Avenue.
At the intersection of 2nd and Market streets is the broad town square framed by massive Italianate three-story brick buildings erected as the nation's centennial approached. The former Graham Hotel (1871) at the northwest corner of 2nd and Market streets and the Newport Hotel and Tavern (1875) on the northeast accommodated an ever-increasing number of travelers. Locally produced merchandise was sold at the former clothing manufacturer's Butz Building (1875) on the southeast corner and the Centennial Building (1876) on the southwest. The elegantly articulated Doric front of the First National Bank (1893; 15 N. 2nd Street) is of white marble, probably from the A. V. Hombach Marble and Granite Works at 34 S. Front Street. The affluence and sophistication of Newport in the late nineteenth century is visible in its ecclesiastical architecture. The former Presbyterian Church (1885) at 100 N. 2nd Street and the Church of the Nativity (1889) at 159 S. 2nd Street were both designed in the ornate Queen Anne style, usually reserved for domestic architecture. A cluster of Romanesque Revival churches was built between 1877 and 1912 on the 300 block of W. Market Street and around the corner at N. 4th Street. Many of Newport's houses were constructed by George Fleisher and his son, Emory, whose own Colonial Revival residence stands at 152 N. 4th Street. Two-thirds of the housing consists of simple two-story clapboard-covered houses built on stone foundations with central or L-plans, presenting a unified streetscape enlivened by their Carpenter Gothic, Italianate, or Classical Revival front porches. Although mansions, such as the Italianate Demaree House at 220 W. Market and the Chateauesque house at 141 S. 2nd Street, are rare, the more than four hundred historic buildings attest to Newport's prosperity from 1865 to 1920.
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