Resource Center Plans
In 1905, fifty years after the Newport Historical Society was founded, a new purpose-built masonry building was constructed at 82 Touro Street, a vibrant thoroughfare connecting Bellevue Avenue with Washington Square and with Newport’s waterfront economy. This three-story building was well suited for a collection of Newport history amassed in fifty years, as well as a librarian. With respect to its external footprint and internal configuration, this repository building has remained unchanged 107 years and has been recognized as obsolete for the purposes of the Newport Historical Society’s abilities and responsibilities.
The Touro Street building, which continues to serve as the headquarters of the Newport Historical Society, is plagued with these acute areas of concern:
- The building has limited climate and no humidity controls.
- Collections storage has never been modernized and is not conducive to both the quantity and quality of the collections that are housed in this building.
- There is no proper processing space or office for a curator to manage the collections.
- There is no proper space for scholar research or public review of pieces from the collections, and no appropriate monitoring controls in place for the curator to manage access and utilization of pieces from the collections.
- Movement of artifacts from storage to other areas of the building or offsite for exhibition purposes is not safe (meaning via cart and elevator) heightening the potential for accidental damage.
- The building is not compliant with the American Disabilities Act and accessibility to the collections is only by way of a staircase.
- There are no public restrooms, and the existing restroom is severely outdated.
- Staff office space is inefficient and outdated, with staff, volunteers and interns crowded in common work areas.
- There is no public entranceway, reception area or welcome/control desk to serve as a professional “front door” to the Newport Historical Society for high level researchers or the public at large.
The results of the planned rehabilitation project will include:
- Secured watertight integrity to the entire building
- Achieved ADA compliance with installation of elevator
- New electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems to the entire building
- New, cost and environmentally efficient lighting systems to the entire building
- Upgrades to fire suppression, security and safety systems
- New entranceway, welcome/reception area
- Renovated second floor collections storage, research space and curator office
- New handicap accessible parking
- New handicap accessible restrooms
- Completely reconfigured office spaces
The Historical Society is currently working with an architect to take our new program for the building and turn it into a plan for a new Newport Historical Society Resource Center. The potential for the necessary fundraising is also under exploration.