Modern luxury in a home from Newport's Revolutionary days


Newport was an early colonial powerhouse, one of the most important centers of maritime trade and commerce through the late 17th and early 18thcenturies. When the British occupied the city from 1776 to 1779, driving out half its residents, they not only permanently damaged the maritime trade, they also burned half of the clapboard houses as firewood.

By the mid-20th century, Newport was in a marked slump, with litter-strewn neighborhoods and decrepit housing stock. Thankfully, a British couple (who eventually became year-round Newporters) Lt. Col. C.D.L. Pepys and his wife, Nadine, organized Operation Clapboard, a grassroots movement in which Newporters of means pooled their resources to restore derelict 18th -century homes, saving Newport's history and architectural heritage.

This remarkable home at 17 John St. is one of many saved by Operation Clapboard over the years. Built in 1790 by Samuel Yeats, whose name it bears, the Samuel Yeats House has been immaculately restored, sensitively retaining all its charm and historic character, yet updated to function as a modern 21st-century home.

Beautiful pine and chestnut floors gleam on all three levels of living space. Four impeccable bedrooms are well-served by four full bathrooms. Central air conditioning throughout the home keeps things comfortable when the breeze off Newport Harbor isn’t enough. Seven working fireplaces, six wood-burning, with gas in the kitchen, make for cozy winters.

Stunning antique chestnut countertops highlighted by a copper farm sink create a kitchen that is the perfect marriage of form and function. The professional JennAir gas stove, Jennair French door bottom freezer refrigerator, and Miele dishwasher are all only four years old.

Whether entertaining on the private patio or walking to Thames Street or Bellevue Avenue to enjoy a meal at one of Newport’s fine restaurants, 17 John St. is quintessential Newport: rich in history, refined where it should be, and never dull.

By the numbers

  • $999,000
  • 4 bedrooms
  • 4 bathrooms
  • 7 fireplaces
  • Lila Delman Real Estate
  • Susan Gustavson
  • 401-419-5783


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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.