Oxford Tree-Ring Laboratory - Rhode Island
Felling Dates: Winter 1698/9, Spring 1699, and Summer 1699
Quakers from throughout New England held their Yearly Meeting in the Newport Meetinghouse from 1700 to 1905. The building was added to, and altered over those years and into the 20th century to meet changing needs. The building was purchased for preservation and restoration in 1967 and over several years was restored to its early 19th century configuration.
The first building campaign resulted in a two story building about forty-five feet square. The roof was a steeply pitched hip culminating in a turret at the junction of the four roof slopes. Inside the open space allowed full view of the massive framing timbers, two of the timbers are twelve inches square by forty-five feet long. Another feature was a gallery at the second floor level on three sides of the building. An addition was called for in 1705 to provide space for the Women’s yearly meeting. This first addition was removed to make way for, in 1729, a larger two story space to the on the north end of the original building. The first floor remained the space for the Women’s Meeting while the upper room was used for informal meetings. In 1806 an addition was planned for the south end of the original building, slightly larger than the north addition. This is basically the configuration the building was restored to. It was probably during this 1806 change that the hip roof with the turret was removed and a continuous gable roof constructed over the original building and the new south addition.
There remains some discussion as to when and how this change took place. Several lesser changes were made through the 19th century including a very Greek revival style entrance porch. The annual meeting site was moved to Providence in 1905 and in time- 1922 – the Newport Meetinghouse was sold to the Newport Community Center Association. It was adapted for athletic games and public meetings. Written history of this significant building, owned and maintained by the Newport Historical Society, is well expressed in the references at the end of this piece. Downing & Scully, The Architectural Heritage of Newport Stachiw, Myron O., The Early Architecture & Landscapes of the Narragansett Basin, Vol. I Newport Historical Society, published and archive materials
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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