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Division Street, laid out in 1700, divided a large parcel of land owned by Walter Clarke, son of Jeremiah Clarke, one of the city’s founders. Lots along the street were subdivided several times to accommodate the growing population of the city as it turned from agriculture to maritime commerce.

Union Congregational Church 1871

Architectural Style: Gothic Revival. Look For: Kingpin truss exposed in gable as decorative element; board and batten siding.

This building housed the first free black church in Newport, organized by Newport Gardner and other African Americans.

The original building on this site was built in 1783 by the Fourth Baptist Church, a congregation that strictly prohibited its members from owning slaves. When the Fourth Baptist Church moved, the Union Congregational Church (the first free black church in Newport) purchased the building. Newport Gardner, a freed slave, organized the church, which previously had met at the home of Peter Bours next door at 47 Division Street.

In 1871 the Union Congregational Church tore down the old building and put up the present structure on the old foundations. This building is in the Gothic Revival style. Its pointed arches, board and batten siding, and steeply pitched gable roofs give a dramatic verticality. The cutwork detailing in the screens around the vestibule, the structural elements exposed in the gable, and the finials are the work of housewrights imitating church architecture of the 12th century.


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