George Chartplin Mason House, Newport Rhode Island

Date added: August 26, 2010 Categories: Rhode Island House

This Swiss-style chalet was the personal residence of the Newport architect, George Champlin Mason. The elaborate gable ended porch on the third story, with its sawn open work, sites the house and indicates the revival nature of the exterior as well as the interior.

George Champlin Mason was born in Newport, descended from some of Rhode Island's more distinguished families. In the mid 1840s he traveled to Europe. He spent two years in Florence, Rome, and Paris studying drawing and architecture. He returned to the United States in 1846. In 1850, he became editor of the Newport Mercury. However, in 1858, due to the increase in building activity, he left the paper and opened his office, later taking his son George C. Mason, Jr. into partnership. Throughout his professional career as an architect, he made significant contributions to our present knowledge of the history of Newport. It was as editor of the newspaper that he called for the creation of the Newport Historical Society in 1853, being elected Corresponding Secretary. The publication of his book, Newport Illustrated in 1854, by D. Appleton and Co., New York, was important in the establishment of Newport as the chief "watering place" in America. As architect, artist, and writer. Mason was a major figure in the history of Newport in the second half of the 19th century.

At a date contemporary with the construction of the house, a large servant's dining room was added behind the kitchen in an easterly direction. About 1909, panelling from the John Gidley House (originally located at Thames and Gidley Streets, dated 1725, probably designed by Richard Munday) was installed in the living room. In 1960, the panelling was sold to the Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum. On the second floor the sewing room above the entrance, has been converted to a bathroom. A connecting bathroom has been made from a closet between the two west bedrooms.

Over-all dimensions: 60 feet by 43 feet; square plan with wing; 3 bays, 2 1/2 stories.

Floor plan: The large entrance hall, reached through an octagonal vestibule, is divided lengthwise by an arch which separates the staircase from the doorways to the three principal rooms. The library fills the northwest corner of the house, immediately to the right to the entry. Large double, sliding doors open to the parlor at the southwest comer. Directly opposite the entrance, in the center of the south side of the house, is located the dining room. The dining room is serviced from the Butler's pantry by a door placed diagonally in the northeast comer of the room. The east wing of the house contains the service facilities with sleeping quarters above for the servants. The second floor, with its three large bedrooms, repeats the general configuration of the first floor. The attic,, located above this area, has never been finished for use as sleeping quarters.

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