RI History
9:50 am
Wed April 2, 2014

Newport Restoration Foundation Purchases Home Of Important Colonial Furniture Maker

The Newport Restoration Foundation has added a new jewel to its crown of original colonial housing. And this isn’t just any home.  Its owner was a man who made American furniture-making history.

The Christopher Townsend House, c. 1725, which was purchased by the Newport Restoration Foundation.
Credit Newport Restoration Foundation

The Newport Restoration Foundation has purchased the home of Christopher Townsend, founder of the famous cabinet making company whose colonial-era furniture sells today for millions of dollars.  Foundation director Pieter Roos said they picked up the 1725 red house with white trim for $645,000.   The company’s original cabinet making shop is a single story wing at the right of the house.

"It’s sort of long and thin. It’s about ten feet wide and about 20 feet long. So it’s quite small inside and to think that not only the cabinetmaker but a couple of apprentices and journeymen would have been working in there at any given time too.  There would have been work benches and the work itself and the case furniture; a lot of stuff would have been lying around. It would have been a very compact place," said Roos.

Newport is thought to have the largest collection of original colonial housing in the United States.  That’s due to three factors. The British occupied Newport throughout the American Revolution. There was never a major fire. And tobacco heiress, the late Doris Duke, made it her mission to save them.

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