Due to family ties that united the Perry and Champlin families in Newport, George Champlin Mason’s architectural practice was assured when launched in 1860 with the commission for the August Belmont Villa By-the-Sea. Two and a half decades later he was the perfect choice to compile a history of Rhode Island’s famous sea-side town.
This volume can be found in the Rhode Island listings in our American County Histories collection. This book stands out among others for its strong focus on architectural details and the inclusion of so many sketches and photos of public buildings and private homes in Newport. A very small selection is included below.
NEWPORT, R. I., May 26, 1884.
My DEAR MR. MASON,
Many of the lovers of old Newport, who treasure its pleasant memories and are pained to realize that some of them are fading and passing away, are very desirous to persuade you to embody in a book the valuable and interesting letters which you have contributed to the Providence Journal and New York Evening Post for many years, over the signature of Aquidneck and Champlin.
If you will favorably regard our wishes and will comply with this expression of them, we are assured that it will gratify and instruct a host of readers, and will embalm in a more permanent form individual sketches and historical associations which are otherwise likely to be lost.
Very truly yours,
CHARLES C. VAN ZANDT.
PROVIDENCE, May 31, 1884.
MY DEAR MR. MASON,
I learn that several of your friends are requesting you to collect for publication your letters relating to Newport in its earlier days, which, during several years past, you have contributed to the Providence Journal and the New York Evening Post.
Allow me to express the hope that you will comply with their request. I recall these letters with great satisfaction, and regard them as the best sketches that have appeared of Newport in the days of its commercial prosperity,—a century and a half ago. They were gracefully written, and were admirably fitted to keep alive those historical associations which impart such dignity and charm to the venerable town. So attractive were they, that they seemed to me to point you out as better qualified than any other person now living to write its entire history, which I wish I could persuade you to undertake.
I remain, very truly yours,
In compliance with the wishes of many friends, cordially expressed in letters like the above, from Ex-Governor Van Zandt and Professor Gammell, I have brought together these sketches of my native place, which are here inscribed to the Lovers of Newport, At Home and Abroad.
GEO. C. MASON
Table of Contents
I. NEWPORT: A WATERING PLACE.
II. THE STATE HOUSE AND PARADE.
III. THE POINT.
IV. THE NEWPORT HEBREWS.
VII. OLD DANCES.
VIII. EARLY NEWPORT PRINTERS, AND OLD NEWSPAPERS.
IX. OLD TIME FROLICS.
X. THE LAST COLORED UNDERTAKER.
XI. POLITICS EIGHTY YEARS AGO.
XII. THE CITY HALL.
XIII. THE OLD THEATRE.
XIV. THE STORY OF AN OPAL.
XV. THE FRIGATE GENERAL GREENE.
XVI. PROPOSED NAVY YARD IN NEWPORT.ACTION TAKEN IN 1800.THE COVE TENDERED TO THE GENERAL GOVERNMENT FOR A DOCKYARD.
XVII. SARAH WILSON.
XVIII. COMMERCE OF NEWPORT EIGHTY YEARS AGO.
XIX. NEWPORT GARDNER.
XX. A LOVE STORY.
XXI. THE VERNON PICTURES.
XXII. THE NEWPORT INSURANCE COMPANY.
XXIII. OLD SIGNS.
XXIV. ROBERT JOHNSTON.
XXV. THE SHIP FAME AND SCHOONER FAME, OF 1745.
XXVI. CYNTHIA TAGGART.
XXVII. OLD INVITATIONS.
XXVIII. A YOUTH OF THE WANTON FAMILY.
XXIX. OLD NOVELS.
XXX. SMALL-POX IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY.
XXXI. OLD MINIATURES.
XXXIII. THE REDWOOD LIBRARY.
XXXIV. THE REDWOOD LIBRARY PORTRAIT GALLERY.
XXXV. THE HAMMOND LIBRARY.
XXXVI. TALLEYRANDS VISIT TO NEWPORT.
XXXVII. THE NEWPORT ARTILLERY.
XXXVIII. PORTRAITS OF WASHINGTON.
XXXIX. FORT ADAMS.
XL. COOKS SHIP ENDEAVOUR.
XLI. HONORS PAID TO COMMODORE PERRY.
XLII. TRINITY CHURCH.
XLIII. THE GRAVEYARD OF TRINITY CHURCH.
XLIV. MICHELE FELICE CORNE.
XLV. YELLOW WARE.
XLVI. OLD CHINA.
XLVII. ENERGETIC WOMEN.
XLVIII. THE BRENTON HOUSE.
XLIX. OLD HOUSES.
L. THE CHESEBROUGH HOUSE.
LI. THE GIBBS MANSION.
LII. THE OLD STONE MILL AT NEWPORT.
Images in the Book
The author of this book’s home is now a bed and breakfast operating under the name Architect’s Inn. The video below contains extensive footage from inside George Champlin Mason’s palatial home as well as images from other Newport landmarks.