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Isaac Bell House
Isaac Bell House 2018-06-13.jpg
Front elevation, 2018
Location 70 Perry Street, Newport, RI
Area 1 acre (0.40 ha)
Built 1881-1883
Architect McKim, Mead and White
Architectural style Shingle style
Part of Bellevue Avenue Historic District (ID72000023)
NRHP reference No. 72000022 (original)
97001276 (NHL)
Quick facts for kids
Significant dates
Added to NRHP January 13, 1972
Designated NHL September 25, 1997
Designated NHLDCP December 8, 1972

The Isaac Bell House is a historic house and National Historic Landmark at 70 Perry Street (at the corner with Bellevue Avenue) in Newport, Rhode Island. Also known as Edna Villa, it is one of the outstanding examples of Shingle Style architecture in the United States. It was designed by McKim, Mead, and White, and built during the Gilded Age, when Newport was the summer resort of choice for some of America's wealthiest families.

History

Isaac Bell House
House interior seen in 1886

Isaac Bell Jr. was a successful cotton broker and investor, and the brother-in-law of James Gordon Bennett Jr., publisher of the New York Herald. Bell hired the New York architectural firm of McKim, Mead, and White (Charles Follen McKim, William R. Mead, and Stanford White) to design his summer cottage. Known in Newport for designing Newport Casino, and later in Boston for designing Boston Public Library, they also designed Pennsylvania Station in New York City. Construction took place between 1881 and 1883.

Shingle Style was pioneered by Henry Hobson Richardson in his design for the William Watts Sherman House, also in Newport. This style of Victorian architecture, featuring the extensive use of wooden shingles on the exterior, acquired some popularity in the late nineteenth century. The Isaac Bell House exemplifies this through its unpainted wood shingles, simple window and trim detail, and multiple porches. It combines elements of the English Arts and Crafts movement philosophy, colonial American detailing, and features a Japanese-inspired open floor plan and bamboo-style porch columns. Interior features include inglenook fireplaces, natural rattan wall coverings, wall paneling and narrow-band wooden floors.

During its life, the house has variously been divided into apartments and served as a nursing home. With the help of Carol Chiles Ballard, the house was bought in 1994 by the Preservation Society of Newport County, which won awards for its restoration, and now operates it as a museum.

The Isaac Bell House was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1997.

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