The Meservey Photographic Survey
Shortly after the 1945 founding of The Preservation Sociey of Newport County it became apparent, to all interested parties, that no comprehensive survey yet existed documenting Newport's three centuries of architectural heritage.
Under the guidance of the Society's founder, Katherine U. Warren, a Survey Committee was created. In 1947 two architectural historians, sponsored by Mrs. Michael M. Van Beuren (nee Mary Archbold), were engaged to undertake the ambitious survey project. They were Antoinette F. Downing, shortly to become the leader of historic preservation in Providence, Rhode Island and Vincent J. Scully, Jr., a youthful Yale professor soon to become a nationally prominent architectural historian.
Their resultant study was published, through Mrs. Van Beuren's generosity, by the Harvard University Press in 1952 under the title: The Architectural Heritage of Newport Rhode Island 1640-1915.
A key companion to the authors' insighful text was a series of evocative architectural photographs commissioned from Robert Meservey. An artistic survey in its own right, Meservey's images were captured throughout the city between 1948 and 1951. Not all of his photographs were printed in the 1952 publication.
We here reproduce, from the Society's archives, the complete series, for the first time, in the hope that these images will continue to encourage interest in the broad scope of Newport's architectural legacy.
Early Settlement: 1640-1720
Richard Munday's Era: 1720-1750
Peter Harrison's Era: 1750-1780
Early Republican Architecture: 1780-1840
Early Nineteenth-Century Resort Architecture: 1840-1875
The Stick and Shingle Styles in Newport: 1860-1890
Late Nineteenth-Century Resort Architecture: 1875-1930