Belair Mansion // 1850

One of the most stunning summer “cottages” in Newport, Rhode Island is this stone behemoth named “Belair”. The house is set back way off the street and was one of the first summer estates built in this section of Newport. Belair was built in 1850 for New York oil baron H. Allen Wright in the Italianate style and constructed of roughly dressed stone and was originally about half of the size of the current footprint. The mansion was designed by architect Seth C. Bradford, who is also credited as architect of the similarly designed Chateau-sur-Mer, built one year later. Wright sold this house to George H. Norman two years after its completion. Norman (1827-1900), founded the Newport Daily News in 1848 and made his fortune as an engineer, first establishing gas works and later water works systems across New England, New York, and the Midwest. Norman made a fortune, and renovated and expanded his mansion in 1870 from plans by Newport architect Dudley Newton, with grand Second Empire additions, including the high convex-mansard corner tower. The original four acre Belair property has been extensively subdivided, and this house now occupies a lot of about an acre; with the original outbuildings sold off, and Belair is now 11 condominium units!

5 thoughts on “Belair Mansion // 1850

  1. Arthur Menaldi December 20, 2022 / 2:17 pm

    I think the house was sold from Wright to G.H. Norman’s father, George Washington Norman. Geo, Henry would have only been 25 at the time. Belair passed to G.H at his father’s death (1867).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Buildings of New England December 20, 2022 / 6:16 pm

      Nope! It was sold to George Henry Norman, a few years after he founded the Newport Daily News. At least that is what is listed in the Nomination form for the house.


      • Giselle Usher March 13, 2023 / 8:07 pm

        Yes, you are correct. George Henry Norman was my great grandfather. His daughter Mabel Norman-Cerio was my grandmother.


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