Black History Month Spotlight: The Walker Building

January 31, 2022

The Walker Building, circa 1970. Historic Building Survey, Newport Historical Society.

The Walker Building, present-day 9 & 11 Bridge Street is in the Point Neighborhood of Newport. The two-story concrete block building was constructed in 1947 by Louis Walker, a Black entrepreneur and native Newporter, to house his company, City Taxi Garage.

Louis Walker (1892 -1959) was born in Newport to Lindsay and Lena Rodericks Walker. His father, Lindsay R. Walker, came to Newport from Culpepper County Virginia in 1860. Lindsay Walker would later encourage other African Americans to move to Newport, including Armstead Hurley, who arrived in Newport in 1886 and established a lucrative painting and papering business. Hurley also invested in property in the Point neighborhood and the wider Historic District. Lindsay Walker and Armstead Hurley were both partners in the Rhode Island Loan and Investment Company, a bank on Washington Square owned and operated by African Americans.

Lindsay’s son Louis would later become a successful businessman, establishing several transportation services in Newport. In 1947, Louis constructed the building that is now known as the Walker Building to house his company, City Taxi Garage. Walker and his son, Louis Walker, Jr., also ran a bus company, a limousine service, and another garage on Broadway.

 

Banner: Detail from the 1921 Newport City Atlas showing the present-day Walker Building property, 4,240 sq. ft., owned by Ellen Booth. Note that Armstead Hurley owns additional property in the area. Hurley likely encouraged Walker to invest on Bridge Street.