Roger Williams, Rhode Island founder who was laid to rest in the land where the Door house occupies, strongly advocated religious freedoms (including separation of church and state) and disapproved of the practice of seizing land held by Native Americans. His remains were moved before Dorr purchased the lot early in the nineteenth century.
Door, who primarily made his fortune trading with China, and his wife Lydia were the parents of Thomas Wilson Dorr, who led the infamous Dorr’s Rebellion in 1842. Dorr had become an integral figure within the Law and Order Party, whose platform focused on suffrage reform. The party developed a new Constitution deemed the People's Constitution, and afterward elected Dorr as governor of Rhode Island. However, the Rhode Island legislature refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of either the Constitution or Dorr's governorship. As a result, Dorr unsuccessfully attempted to take over the State Arsenal, and he also failed in an attempt to assemble a General Assembly. His failures ultimately forced him to flee the state, only to return -- he was convicted of treason and sentenced to life in prison. In 1845, Rhode Island legislatures passed a measure that deemed Dorr and others as wrongly convicted, which resulted in their pardons.
Many historians argue that both Williams' belief in the separation of church and state and Dorr's attempts to reform suffrage strong influenced American polity.
In 1956, Sullivan Door's great-granddaughter, Margarethe Lyman Dwight, deeded the Dorr Mansion to the Providence Preservation Society, who subsequently financed and managed a project to restore the home.
To view the home and lot is to see changed in architectural history and be reminded of Rhode Island's founding, as well as its maturation, which included a small Civil War.