NEMA Museums New England

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Museum Profile

Clemence-Irons House

38 George Waterman Road, Johnston, RI 02919

Built by Richard Clemence in 1691, Clemence-Irons House is a rare surviving example of a "stone-ender," a once common building type with roots in the western part of England. Passing through a series of owners in the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries, the house had grown to thirteen rooms by 1938, when it was purchased by Henry Sharpe and his sisters, Ellen Sharpe and Louisa Sharpe Metcalf.

The Sharpe family valued the great age of the house and recognized its stone-ender characteristics, and commissioned Norman Isham, who had directed restoration efforts at nearby Arnold House in 1920, to investigate the structure and restore the house to its seventeenth-century appearance. Using a combination of salvaged and new materials to recreate the original appearance of the house, Isham also commissioned furnishings made from old wood to complement the architectural reconstruction.

Significant as one of the oldest houses in Rhode Island, Clemence-Irons House is also important as a record of twentieth-century restoration ideas and methods. The house was donated to Historic New England in 1947.