Newport Shingle Style

  • ISBN13:


  • ISBN10:


  • Format: Trade Book
  • Copyright: 2010-04-27
  • Publisher: Frances Lincoln
  • Purchase Benefits
  • Free Shipping On Orders Over $35!
    Your order must be $35 or more to qualify for free economy shipping. Bulk sales, PO's, Marketplace items, eBooks and apparel do not qualify for this offer.
  • Get Rewarded for Ordering Your Textbooks! Enroll Now
List Price: $24.95


Newport, Rhode Island, is the classic New England summer resort. The setting for the film 'High Society', John F. Kennedy was married here and he and his predecessor Dwight Eisenhower ran 'Summer White Houses' from the City-by-the Sea. It continues to enchant residents and visitors alike with an unparalleled concentration of carefully preserved architecture. Shingle Style flourished in Newport and its Gilded Age environs during the 1880s. With asymmetrical wood frames and shingled stories set dramatically on stone foundations, these romantic homes were intended to blend with the surrounding landscape, while incorporating fantastical elements such as gables, brick and stone chimneys, bands of small-paned windows, turrets, columns and pediments. Interiors contained imaginative staircases, art glass windows, hand-crafted millwork and emphasized organized space and open floor plans for gracious living. Most importantly, nearly every room boasted large and freely spaced windows and doors that opened to porches strategically positioned to take full advantage of ocean views and cool summer breezes. Recently, American vernacular architecture has witnessed a renaissance, as impressive new Shingle Style homes are built alongside those that have presided along the rugged Rhode Island coastline for more than a century. Attention to detail is so exquisite that the latest interpretations are often mistaken for 19th century originals. The collection of 15 homes showcased in this book represents the best of Newport Shingle Style, Now and Then.



Written by Richard Guy Wilson

The Isaac Bell House introduced me to the Shingle Style. During the mid-1960s while a young naval officer in Newport, Rhode Island, practically every day I turned the corner at Bellevue Avenue and Perry Street where the huge asymmetrical shingled mass and the wonderful porch posts caught my eye. Finally I stopped and asked if I could look inside since then it was a home for the elderly. The great hall, fireplace, flowing stairs, the wide doorways and the way the interior opened to the porch amazed me. And then I discovered other Newport buildings-not so much the giant mansions such as the Breakers and Rosecliff (though I have come to like them)--but the Casino, the William Watts Sherman House and on back streets some obscure shingled houses that fellow officers lived in such as the Samuel Tilton House. Finally, I went to the library-then located in Richard Upjohn's Edward King Villa-and discovered Antoinette Downing and Vincent Scully's The Architectural Heritage of Newport, Rhode Island (1952) and Scully's classic, The Shingle Style (1955). Not too long thereafter I left the Navy, went to graduate school, wrote some papers for an architectural history course, and ultimately did my Ph. D. dissertation (and later a book) on the architecture of McKim, Mead & White, who designed the Isaac Bell House, Samuel Tilton House, and Rosecliff, along with the Newport Casino, and assisted on the William Watts Sherman House. Turning a corner can change one's life.

Scully's Shingle Style argued that in the 1870s and 1880s a few American architects invented a new architecture which helped foster 20th century modernism. The book was a reaction to the almost exclusive focus of architects and historians upon the European origins of Modernism but as Scully's subtitle Architectural Theory and Design from Richardson to the Origins of Wright indicated, there were American origins as well, particularly in the open plan. Since Scully's path breaking book numerous scholars and writers have enlarged upon the Shingle Style showing different permeations and how it influenced many others such as the California Arts & Crafts architects Greene & Greene, and Irving Gill, the last of who designed several houses in Newport.

The original architects would have been puzzled with the term "Shingle Style" since it was an invention of the 1950s. Back in the later 19th century they would have used Queen Anne, Modernized Colonial and the Resort Style. But Shingle Style has caught on and entered into the American vocabulary as a style of the period.

The various terms originally used give a clue to some of the origins of the Shingle Style and its importance in Newport. Newport, to put it simply, was for a period of 15-20 years, the center of American design. The architects were very influenced by their contemporaries in England who were searching for an English idiom and came up with the Queen Anne and the Olde English as styles. These styles traveled across the Atlantic in various magazines and illustrations and were picked up by a younger generation of American architects such as H. H. Richardson, Charles McKim, Stanford White, Bruce Price, Clarence Luce, Charles Bevins and others. But they didn't just copy the English but made changes relying on the American penchant for wood. Instead of hung clay tiles or slate that the English used, Americans turned back to wooden shingles that had been employed in the Colonial period. Also the Americans inspired by the English rummaging through their past for details turned to American colonial features such as large long sloping roofs, double gables, fan lights over doors, and small classical details. Also, inspiring the Americans was Japanese architecture (Commodore M. Perry -a Newporter--opened Japan to the West in 1853)-as can been seen in the turned bamboo porch posts of the Isaac Bell House or the piazza at the Newport Casino. The interiors also differed from English models with large halls and flowing staircases and the ground floor rooms opened into each other and to the porch of piazza. The houses contained an organic element and as the shingles weathered they seemed to grow from their site.

Although the Shingle Style appeared in numerous locations along the East Coast back in the 1870s and then spread inland and ultimately to the West Coast, Newport acted as the center and in a sense the catalyst. The tremendous amount of 17th and 18th century architecture inspired the architects and Charles McKim in particular conducted research and published a limited edition book of plates entitled "Old Newport Houses." In a brief article he argued that the weathered shingled roof of an 18th century house was the true source for an American architecture.

By the mid-1960s a small Shingle Style revival was underway. The original Shingle style appealed with its sense of informality, spirit of summer, and the rugged quality that recalled the past, but not in a strict sense. Scully participated in this revival with his book of 1974 The Shingle Style Today, or the Historian's Revenge. An element of this revival lay with the advent of Post-Modernism which was opposed to the starkness and machine type elements of some modernist houses. Instead of smooth mirror like finishes and abstract elements such as flat roofs houses should have texture, warmth, and pitched roofs.

Cheryl Hackett is the first person to treat this new Shingle Style while paying attention to its historic roots in Newport. As a Newporter she knows both the original houses and their origins in early Newport and then the new ones created by Bernard Wharton, William Burgin, John Grosvenor, Paul Weber and Paul Burke. To call these new houses simply a revival is inaccurate; their architects build upon the foundations set down over a century ago. In form and shingles they recall the past but alternatively the new houses contain modern spaces, comforts, views, and materials. They demonstrate the continuing relevance of the style and that maybe some time in the future a person passing in front of them will have his or her life changed.

Rewards Program

Write a Review