Second Congregational Church, Newport Rhode Island

Date added: September 09, 2010 Categories: Rhode Island Church

The building was completed September 15, 1735. It served as barracks for British troops 1776-1779 during their occupation and as a hospital for the French while they were in Newport. The building was called "Dr. Stiles Meeting House" for the Rev.. Ezra Stiles, D.D. 1727-1795. He was associated with the church from 1755-1786 and in 1787 was elected president of Yale University.

The original 18th century style was nearly totally lost during the 19th century alterations. Heavy damage during the Revolutionary War required extensive repairs in 1785, In 1847 the Central Baptist Society lengthened the building to 93' and enclosed the tower within the body of the church and added a Greek Revival exterior and interior.

In 1874-1875 wings were added, the floor level was probably raised and a full basement inserted. Victorian detail was added to the facade and interior and the configuration of the spire was altered slightly. The spire was removed in 1946. Some portions of the roof structure and tower base seem to be all that remain of the original building.

There is fire damage at the southwest corner of the tower and auditorium and water damage from the leaking roof.

The building was sold to the United Congregational Church on August 15, 1835. It was sold to the Central Baptist Church on March 12, 1847. It was sold to the Corporation of St. Joseph's Church of Newport on March 9, 1950.

Rectangular, 80' x 90', three bay facade (east) one story plus basement.

Floor Plan: Wide, shallow narthex at ground level. Two broad stairs at each front door lead up six steps to auditorium on main level. Center stair from narthex leads down seven steps to basement. Auditorium has shallow balcony at east, west end remodeled in mid-20th century with a stage eliminating 18th century Baptist ecclestical furniture. Auditorium has slightly defined side aisles with four bays and square columns. Basement is apparently mostly of the 1840s with a large meeting room with steps and two smaller rooms, a lounge and a kitchen. Stairway railings probably of the 1840s.