Newport Restoration Foundation Adds to Whitehorne House Collection of Early American Furniture

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The Newport Restoration Foundation (NRF) has added four items to the collection at Whitehorne House, a Newport museum featuring a rare collection of eighteenth and early nineteenth century Newport and Rhode Island furniture

The Newport Restoration Foundation (NRF) has added four items to the collection at Whitehorne House, a Newport museum featuring a rare collection of eighteenth and early nineteenth century Newport and Rhode Island furniture. Whitehorne House showcases the work of some of the country’s most highly regarded furniture craftsmen including those of the renowned Townsend and Goddard workshops. The new additions will be on display when the museum opens for the 2012 season on May 3rd.

“As part of a long-term plan to refine the collection at Whitehorne House we have an established fund that allows us to acquire museum artifacts that support our mission,” said Pieter N. Roos, Executive Director. “The recent acquisitions will not only enhance the museum visitor experience, but add to our scholarly resources.”

The items were selected and purchased at auction in January by Mr. Roos and A. Bruce MacLeish, Director of Collections, to expand Whitehorne House’s existing collection of early American furniture. The acquisitions include:

  • Newport Windsor Chair (c. 1780) – This chair is relatively rare survival of the simpler furniture forms which were once made by the hundreds. A fine example of a Windsor chair, it adds to a small group of distinctive Windsors in the museum, which exemplifies vernacular chair styles during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in Newport.
  • Newport Serpentine-front Chest of Drawers (c. 1785) – This elegant and understated piece is a good example of Newport cabinetmaking that followed the famous “block-and-shell” style, which is well-represented in the museum. The chest, with its simple lines, shows how tastes in furniture styles were changing and developing after the Revolutionary War.
  • Fly Tea Table (c. 1760) – The maker of this fly – or tilt-top – tea table is identified as John Goddard through comprehensive study of the carvings and turnings by a group of scholars who have concentrated their studies on Rhode Island furniture.
  • Roundabout Chair (c. 1770) – Also attributed to John Goddard, this roundabout, or corner chair, was likely made about 1770. The chair has one ball-and-claw leg with carving that is characteristic of Goddard’s work. Its provenance indicates it descended in a Rhode Island family.

“With these new artifacts in the collection Whitehorne House will be all the richer in the story that it tells. Each artifact has an important tale to convey pertaining to furniture-making beyond the best known, high style pieces made in Newport,” commented MacLeish. “The two pieces attributed to Goddard show how the masters built simpler furniture as well as the justly famous large and elegantly embellished pieces. All of these pieces are tied to Newport’s history and will help illuminate the outstanding collection assembled by Doris Duke.”

A Federal-style mansion built in 1811, Whitehorne House was purchased and restored by NRF founder Doris Duke. It opened as a museum in 1975 to display the furniture created by Newport’s talented cabinetmakers in the city where it was made. Whitehorne House is open Thursday through Monday from May through October and offers a wonderful museum experience for furniture enthusiasts and antique newcomers alike. The museum is open for self-guided tours from 11:00am – 3:00pm; and guided tours are offered at 10:30am and 3:00pm only. Admission is $6 per person for self-guided tours and $12 for a guided tour; children 12 and under are free. Tickets are available at the door or at

Founded by Doris Duke in 1968, NRF was created to rescue Newport’s 18th-century homes, many of which were at risk of being demolished. Since its founding, it has restored or preserved 83 buildings. Today, NRF owns 82 historic structures, with 70 lived in by individual tenant-stewards. In addition to Whitehorne House, NRF operates two museum sites: Rough Point, the former home of Doris Duke, and Prescott Farm, a site of historic buildings on a rural landscape. The foundation continues to be actively engaged in historic preservation, educational programming, and scholarly research.

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