The General James Taylor Mansion

There are few things that get me in the Christmas spirit like an old historic building or city block decked out in its holiday fanciest. There’s just something about the twinkling lights at dusk and miles of pine roping neatly adorning some fabulous arch

There are few things that get me in the Christmas spirit like an old historic building or city block decked out in its holiday fanciest. There’s just something about the twinkling lights at dusk and miles of pine roping neatly adorning some fabulous architecture that ignites the sentimental holiday sap in me — which is exactly why I found this year’s Newport Victorian Christmas Tour, and in particular the General James Taylor Mansion, so utterly charming.

It is rare that an outsider gets access to this beautiful building since it is privately owned. The Taylor Mansion, also known as the Bellevue, is not only masterfully executed and lovingly restored (most recently in 2005), but every square inch of the massive home is steeped in history. Which leads to a disclaimer — just about every quote, fact and/or tidbit included in this piece likely came directly from Russ Thomas, historian and a manager with the Gerner & Kearns law firm (the owners and occupants of the building), who is a living, breathing history textbook.

Gen. James Taylor first built the Bellevue as a log home in the 1790s. That structure was replaced by a Federal Style home designed by Benjamin Latrobe in 1815, which was in turn completely redecorated in the Greek Revival style after a disastrous 1842 fire, allegedly started by a slave. The final and most extensive structural remodeling took place in 1889 and resulted in the removal and relocation of the side wings — which, now on the northern side of the building, were updated in the Victorian-era Queen Anne style — and the rearrangement of the building’s fa

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