The Wanton-Lyman-Hazard House is one of the oldest houses in Newport, Rhode Island. Records indicate that it was built around 1697 for a Newport merchant named Stephen Mumford. Besides its age, it is significant in that its architecture reflects the transition from the 17th to the 18th centuries. It is owned by the Newport Historical Society and is currently operated as a historic house museum. The Wanton-Lyman-Hazard House was among the first properties in Rhode Island to be designated a National Historic Landmark (1960). It has also been listed on the National Register of Historic Places (1966).
The home that is now known as the
Wanton-Lyman-Hazard house was first built in approximately 1697 for a merchant
named Stephen Mumford. Mumford was also
a founding member of the Seventh Day Baptist congregation in Newport. The
original home that he built was a two-story, large-frame structure with a
steeply pitched roof. Typical of New
England construction at the time, a central chimney was installed with a large
room built on either side. The home was built in the colonial style with
elements of Georgian decorative architecture. The combination of the two styles
make the home unique in that it demonstrates the transition of seventeenth to
eighteenth century architecture. Mumford
eventually sold the property to his own son, who later sold it to Richard Ward.
Ward became the Governor of Rhode Island in 1741 and served a single one-year
The house was purchased by a man
named Martin Howard in 1757. In 1765, news of the Stamp Act reached the
citizens of Newport. An angry mob
attacked the house because Howard was a well-known English Loyalist. Howard had written a pamphlet entitled, “A
Letter from a Gentleman at Halifax,” which pushed a strongly pro-British agenda.
There is a link to a copy of the letter below. Howard must have been driven
from the house by the angry residents. A month after the attack, the home was
sold at public auction to John Wanton.
John Wanton had a daughter named
Polly. Polly was beautiful, intelligent
young woman and the love interest of many of the men in the area. At the age of
nineteen, she married twenty-six-year-old Daniel Lyman. Lyman served as a Major in the Revolutionary
War and later became a lawyer. Visitors
to the home can still see the window in which Polly etched Daniel’s name (a
photograph is posted above). Years
later, the couple’s second daughter (Harriet) married Benjamin Hazard, another
Newport attorney. Now, through the three
generations, comes the historic name of the house – Wanton-Lyman-Hazard. Harriet
and Benjamin’s daughter, Mary, lived in the house until her death in 1911.
In 1927, the home was purchased
by the Newport Historical Society. The
members of the Newport Historical Society restored the property and turned it
into a historic house museum. Years
later, from 1995-2001, additional restoration work was completed. It is currently open for tours. The guides teach visitors about recent
discoveries from the ongoing archaeological investigations on the
property. They also discuss the home’s
architecture, life in the colonial era, and the family histories of the past