Over the centuries, Newport has hosted a fair share of US presidents. The recent visit by Gov. Tim Kaine, who received the invitation to be Hillary Clinton’s running mate while visiting Newport, reminds us that the city has also hosted many vice presidents, past, present and future. The most notable was Levi Parsons Morton (1824-1920), who served under the Harrison administration from 1889-1893.
Morton purchased the “Fairlawn” estate on Bellevue and Ruggles Avenues in 1868 and employed Richard Morris Hunt, George Champlin Mason and the firm of McKim, Mead and White to make extensive renovations and improvements to the house throughout his 22 year ownership. A banker by profession, Morton served in the US Congress and was Minister to France from 1881-1885. He formerly accepted the gift of the Statue of Liberty on behalf of American citizens and drove the first rivet in its assembly. Locally he is remembered for giving Morton Park to the City Newport in 1886.
He sold “Fairlawn” shortly after accepting the vice presidency in 1889, and later served as Governor of New York in 1895, residing at his estate in Rhinebeck, NY. Today “Fairlawn” is owned by Salve Regina University and houses the Pell Center for International Relations.
Above: Photograph of “Fairlawn” by Clarence Stanhope circa 1912 from the NHS collection.