Tall Ships America

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Tall Ships America
29 Touro Street
PO Box 1459
Newport, RI 02840
Tel: 401-846-1775
Fax: 401-849-5400
Email: asta@tallshipsamerica.org

Buloid-Perry House, Newport, RI: Home to Tall Ships America

Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, born August 23, 1785 in South Kingstown, Rhode Island, was an officer in the United States Navy. He served in the War of 1812 against Britain and earned the nickname "Hero of Lake Erie" for leading American forces in a decisive naval victory at the Battle of Lake Erie, where he not only commanded all U.S. Naval forces, but supervised the building of a small fleet. During the battle Perry's flagship, the Lawrence, was destroyed and Perry rowed a half-mile through heavy gunfire to transfer command to the Niagara, carrying his battle flag which read "Don't Give Up the Ship", the famous final words of Captain James Lawrence. In 1819, during an expedition to the Orinoco River in Venezuela, he died of yellow fever contracted from indigenous insects while aboard the Nonsuch. His body was originally buried in Port of Spain, Trinidad but his remains were later reinterred in Newport, Rhode Island. After briefly resting in the Old Common Burial Ground in Newport, his body was moved a final time to Newport's Island Cemetery where his brother Matthew Perry is also buried.

His statue sits across from the Buliod-Perry House, which he purchased in November 1818, weeks before being ordered to the Carribean. On the pedestal may be seen the words of Perry's celebrated report written on the back of an old letter, after the victory on Lake Erie --"We have met the enemy and they are ours." In front of the statue is a pretty little fountain surrounded by flower-beds.

The Buloid-Perry House was built for Peter Buloid, circa 1750. In 1760, the house was sold to the Jewish merchant, Moses Levy, who joined other wealth Jews like Aaron Lopez and Abraham Rodrigues Rivera, who also lived in houses on the square. In 1818, the house was purchased by Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry after his victory in the Battle of Lake Eerie. He lived here until his death in 1819, at which point the Perry family made the building their home until 1865. From 1901 to 1908, the building was the site of the Touro Dining rooms, owned by James T. and Henry L. Allen, two African-Americans who also owned a restaurant at Easton's Beach. The Newport Restoration Foundation purchased the building in 1973 from the Salvation Army which had owned the property since 1914.

When acquired bythe Newport Restoration Foundation, the first floor of the building had long before been gutted for these various uses, although original fabric did exist in small amounts on the second and third floors. The NRF was able to acquire the staircase and some paneling that was saved from the 18th century mansion house of Jaheel Brenton (demolished years before) and used these materials in the first floor front rooms and in the stair hall of the Buloid–Perry House. In 2001, NRF commissioned a careful paint analysis of the exterior of the Buloid-Perry House. Samples were taken from plank siding that had been encapsulated by a building to the west. (There has been a building abutting the west side of the house since about 1860.) Some further samples were taken from a piece of original cornice on the south side. These samples corroborated the findings on the planks from the west side. John Vaughn of Architectural Conservation Services did this analysis and the colors were matched in paint by the California Paints Co. of North Andover Massachusetts. Since then (2001), the exterior of the Buloid–Perry House has been painted in what is believed to have been the exact original color of the house.

Tall Ships America® • 29 Touro Street, PO Box 1459 • Newport, RI 02840 USA • (401)846-1775 • asta@tallshipsamerica.org