Oxford Tree-Ring Laboratory - Rhode Island
Primary house Felling dates: Winter 1691/2, Spring 1693
In 1685 Eleazer Arnold inherited from his father, Thomas, the land on which the house was built. The site was then part of Providence where Eleazer was a prominent citizen. The first documentary reference to the house was in Eleazer’s will and inventory of 1722. The house remained in the hands of the Arnold family until it came to SPNEA in 1918.
The Arnold House is an example of a fully elaborated, four-room-plan Rhode Island stone-ender, two stories in height in the front and one story in the rear as originally built. A massive stone end-wall chimney served fireplaces in the large front room and chamber and the rear room. The smaller flanking rooms, front and rear, were unheated. Survivals from the original construction include the chimney with pilastered top, much of the frame, and sheathing in the large front room. Evidence in the attic indicates that there was a façade gable originally. In the late eighteenth century or early nineteenth century, the Arnold house was enlarged and remodeled. The rear of the house was raised to a full two stories, a lean-to was added across the back, and corner fireplaces were inserted in the unheated rooms. Finish materials and trim were updated inside and out.
After receiving the house in 1918, SPNEA undertook necessary repairs and some later fireboxes were removed. In 1950-1952, the house was restored. Later finish materials and the added lean-to were removed. Framing was repaired, sheathing pieced in where needed, and the exterior was returned to a presumed seventeenth century appearance first postulated by Norman Isham, restoration architect and authority on early Rhode Island architecture, in 1895. The façade gable was not reproduced.
Miles, D H, Worthington, M J, and Foley, R P, 2005 “Development of Standard Tree-Ring Chronologies for Dating Historic Structures in Newport, Rhode Island: Phase I – Pilot Study”, ODL unpubl rep 2005/3
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