William Bottomore House // c.1750

It’s not everyday that I get a chuckle when writing about a building, but I present the Billy Bottomore House… This well-kept Federal home in Newport was apparently built pre-Revolution, but it was likely significantly altered in the early 1800s for its namesake, William “Billy” Bottomore. “Billy” was born in Bologna, Italy, and moved to Salem, MA, where he possibly met Michele Felice Cornè, a prolific painter and who is credited in making tomatoes mainstream… seriously. In early 19th century New England tomatoes were thought to be deadly poison. Cornè was accustomed to eating tomatoes in his native land of Italy and would regularly eat them without ill effect and, thus, allayed the fears of the residents of his adopted country. Cornè became friends with Bottomore and they both moved to Newport. Bottomore likely modernized this house with help from his friend and ran a confectionery store in the home.

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