Mon, 06 Apr 2009 13:56:55The Providence Journal / Frieda Squires
NEWPORT — Overlooking Newport Harbor and busy Thames Street and America’s Cup Avenue, Newport’s Historic Hill section is marked by its impressive and densely packed collection of well-preserved Colonial-era houses and buildings.
It is a popular spot with tourists and visitors interested in the city’s history.
But the Historic Hill is also “very much a living, breathing neighborhood,” according to Lisa Dady, director of education and public programs for the Newport Restoration Foundation.
It is one of the most urban, walkable neighborhoods in the city, close to downtown shopping, restaurants and the waterfront, but one where space, particularly parking space for cars, is at a premium.
“You can walk to anything you need” from the Hill, Dady said.
The neighborhood is home to Touro Synagogue, built between 1759 and 1763, the nation’s oldest standing synagogue, and Trinity Church, built in 1725-26. It is within walking distance to the Redwood Library and Athenaeum, a private subscription library founded in 1747.
Ingrid Peters, director of education for the Newport Historical Society, said the Historic Hill and The Point neighborhoods are the geographical heart of Newport, the places where the city was first settled.
Newport “grew up the hill” from the harbor, and its two oldest neighborhoods were formed in the city’s “golden age,” when it was a thriving seaport populated by prosperous merchants, she said.
Newport was also a center of slave trading and piracy during the Colonial period.
Peters said Newport went into an economic decline after the American Revolution, but ascended again during the Gilded Age, when the city’s noted mansions were built for the new barons of industry.
The Historic Hill “has always been a mixed neighborhood, with businesses, housing — single-family and apartments — and institutions,” Peters said. “It would appeal to someone who likes small city living.”
Real estate prices for the 15 single-family houses listed for sale in the Historic Hill last week ranged from a low of $279,000 to $1.1 million.
At the low end was a 448-square-foot, one-bedroom cottage built in 1870, described by the listing agent as “one of Newport’s tiny treasures.” The property, located at 133 Spring St., also has a separate, renovated studio space, according to the listing information.
The $1.1-million house for sale, at 81 Pelham St., was built in 1860 and has 11 rooms, including 5 bedrooms, 5 full bathrooms and one half bathroom. “The exterior has been significantly restored, with the interior yet to be finished,” according to the property’s MLS information, but it will be sold “as is.”
(Newport, 2000) 26,475
MEDIAN HOUSE PRICE:
(Newport, 2008) $392,500
A gift from the Vanderbilt family to the people of Newport, a 1908 Georgian Revival mansion at 41 Mary St., was once a social club, but today is an elegant hotel and timeshare resort, the Vanderbilt Residence Club and Hotel.