History Bytes: 43 Franklin Street (c.1774-2022)

March 14, 2022

43 Franklin Street, circa 1890. P5617, Collection of the Newport Historical Society.

The streetscape of the historic district of Newport suffered a loss recently when 43 Franklin Street was demolished after sustaining irreparable damage.

Though the exact date of construction of this colonial-era house is not known, it is plotted on Charles Blaskowtiz’s 1777 Plan of the Town of Newport. Confusion over the date of the house’s construction stems from the various additions and modifications made to the house over the centuries.

The first known owner of the house was merchant and mariner Job Easton (1720-1785), who left the property to his wife Susannah. The 1774 Census for Rhode Island did not list street addresses, but it placed Job Easton, head of a household of six, living near the Remson family; A later land deed for 43 Franklin Street details the property as being bounded on the west by Samuel Remson’s property. This evidence argues for a date of at least 1774 for Job Easton’s house.

Widow Susannah Easton sold 43 Franklin Street in 1790 to Samuel Lawton, a cousin of her former husband. The house would remain in the Lawton family until at least 1840.