Malbone Castle and Estate

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Jump to: navigation, search

Malbone, a Gothic-style castle and National Historic Landmark built in 1741, is the oldest privately owned estate in Newport, Rhode Island, and once served as the country residence of Colonel Godfrey Malbone (1695-1768) of Virginia and Connecticut. Colonel Malbone made his fortune as a shipping merchant and became one of the wealthiest men in Newport during the 1740s through privateering and the triangle trade.

Malbone Estate had some of the foremost gardens in North America during the 18th and 19th centuries. Situated on 17 acres and designed between 1848–1850 by the architectural theorist Andrew Jackson Downing, a prominent advocate of the Gothic revival style, the gardens consist of gravel and brick pathways with borders of boxwoods, and artificial fish, duck and stone lined reflection ponds. The grounds also include the largest private collection of beech trees in the northeast, terraces displaying marble and bronze sculpture, a park of fine specimen trees and a lavish lower garden featuring marble pavilions, fountains, a sunken garden, and carriage house and garage.

During his historic visit to Newport's Touro Synagogue, President George Washington dined at Malbone. In 1766, during the course of a gala dinner party, a chimney fire reduced the house to a pile of sandstone rubble. The house was subsequently rebuilt as the summer "villa in the country" for Mr. & Mrs. Jonathan Prescott Hall. Mr. Hall was an eminent New York lawyer and descendent of two signors of the Declaration of Independence.

In May 1848, the Halls commissioned Alexander Jackson Davis, a notable 19th century New York architect, to design a house of pink sandstone ivy-covered ruin as its principal feature, which was all that remained of the substantial country house built in 1741 by Malbone. Reconstruction was completed in 1849. The home remained in the same family for over 130 years and served as the summer residence of the Morris family, a prominent family from New York, who held positions of social and political prominence in America and Newport since the 1700s.

In 1978, Malbone was bequeathed to the Preservation Society of Newport County by the Morris family, and was subsequently purchased by the Leach family of Providence, Rhode Island.


  • Gardens of Colony and State: Gardens and Gardeners of the American Colonies and of the Republic Before 1840 by Alice G. B. Lockwood.
Personal tools