An Italianate Villa
Original Builder: Edmund Schermerhorn
Architect: George Champlin Mason
Construction Dates: 1860-1861
Newport-born architect and entrepreneur George Champlin Mason built
Chepstow (1860-1861) for Edmund Schermerhorn, a descendant of one of the
first settlers in New Netherland. Mr. Mason began his architectural
career in 1858 after retiring as the editor and publisher of the Newport Mercury.
He did not receive any major architectural commissions until 1860 when
no less than seven Mason-designed summer cottages were built in Newport
for such important summer colonists as the Belmont, Ogden, Schermerhorn,
and Tiffany families.
A veritable cottage colony designed by Mason rose on the north side of
Narragansett Avenue where Chepstow was soon joined by its neighbors,
Gravel Court and Starboard House. The seven cottages constructed in 1860
were the nucleus of more than 150 Mason-designed buildings in the
The Italianate style, like the Gothic Revival, began in England in
the 1830s as part of the Picturesque movement in architecture and
landscape design. Italianate houses are characterized by their tall,
narrow windows, low-pitched roofs with overhanging eaves, and square
towers. Reacting to the more formal, classical ideals that had
influenced the architecture of earlier decades, the Italianate style
looked to the informal, rambling architecture of Italian farmhouses. In
the 1840s and 1850s, it was the plans of landscape designer Alexander
Jackson Davis circulated in Andrew Jackson Downing's books that helped
popularize the style.
Despite some modifications, Chepstow retains its original Italianate
character with a low French-style mansard roof, bracketed trim, and
first floor round arch window detail. The façade is dominated by a large
second story Palladian window above a round arch entrance pavilion.
Left of the entrance is a single-story bay window. Such windows, to one
side of the entrance, would become a defining feature of Mason-designed