Newport’s art of the doorway – Providence Journal review of Newport Doors poster

Architecture Here and There

12:40 PM Sat, Apr 09, 2011

By David Brussat

Newport Rhode Island Colonial and Early American DoorsThe poster of Newport doors comes from Cliff Vanover, cartographer of Newport’s Bellevue Avenue (and others) and now postographer of Newport’s fine doorways. One hundred and forty-four doors, arrayed in eight files from top to bottom and 18 side to side, the doors come in almost every hue, surrounded by decorative motifs in mainly classical in style. The doors grace houses in the Point, Hill, Bellevue Avenue, Fifth Ward and other famous districts of the City by the Sea.

Most of the doors offer entry to houses one, two or even three hundred years old, but some are on houses of more recent vintage that might fool you otherwise, and whose owners thus understand preservation better than most professional preservationists.

view down Newport Rhode Island's William StreetAt left is a view down Newport’s William Street, taken by Cliff. Both shots enlarge with a click, especially the poster itself, offering a detailed perusal of the doors’ detail, from the simple to the most rococo. Cliff advises me that the poster has a classical underpinning, in that each door sits in a rectangular space whose proportions reflect the Golden Mean. He is contemplating a transformation of the poster into a jigsaw puzzle.

“I really believe,” says Cliff, “that when people see all of these doors side by side, they will gain a fresh understanding and appreciation of Newport. I have no doubt about it.”

The poster can be had for $19.95 at the Map Center, at 671 North Main St., in Providence, or at the Newport Restoration Foundation’s shop at 415 Thames Street, in Newport. Or it may be ordered from the Great Swamp Press.

David Brussat is a former member of The Journal’s editorial board. His blog is called Architecture Here and There.