Hunter House

Hunter House (1748) is a historic house in Newport, Rhode Island. It is located at 54 Washington Street in the Easton's Point neighborhood, near the northern end of the Newport Historic District.


The original portion of Hunter House was built in 1748 for Colonial Deputy Jonathon Nichols, Jr. The architecture of Hunter House is currently Georgian Colonial. This large 2½ story house has a balustraded gambrel roof and heavy stud construction. In 1756, the property was sold to Colonel Joseph Wanton, Jr., who was a deputy governor of the colony and a merchant. Wanton enlarged the house by adding a south wing and a second chimney, transforming the building into a formal Georgian mansion with a large central hall. During the American Revolution, Wanton remained a loyalist, and General William West ordered Wanton imprisoned in Providence and tried by the legislature. Eventually, Wanton fled Newport when the British left the city. After Wanton fled, the house was used as the headquarters of Admiral de Ternay, commander of the French fleet, when French forces occupied Newport in 1780. After the war, William Hunter, a U.S. Senator and ambassador, bought Wanton's house and transformed it into a formal Georgian mansion with a large central hall.

The house was purchased in 1945 to prevent its demolition, leading to the formation of The Preservation Society of Newport County. Hunter House was designated a National Historic Landmark on November 24, 1968. It is currently open for limited public tours, and displays period furnishings by Townsend and Goddard; paintings, including one by Gilbert Stuart; and a restored 18th century garden.

It is also known for its woodwork, including a carved pineapple over the doorway, a symbol of welcome throughout Colonial America. During the restoration, Newport-made cabinetry from as far away as Scotland was brought back and installed in the house. "Today the visitor to Hunter House comes under the spell of a spectacular interior," says Ralph Carpenter, who supervised the furniture restoration,"with floor-to-ceiling paneling framed with bolection moldings, intricately twisted balusters on the stairs, eighteenth-century Delft tiles around many of the fireplaces, pilasters with Corinthian capitals, and marbleizing and grain painting throughout.".


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