about the inn
La Farge Perry House was built in 1853 by a Mr. Agassiz, a member of the same family who developed the building which is now the Inn at Castle Hill. In 1861, the house was purchased by John La Farge, the renowned painter and stained glass artist, and his wife Margaret Mason Perry. They are the namesake for which our house is named after.
John La Farge is credited with reinventing the art of stained glass. He was awarded several patents for his new methods involving the use of opalescent glass. His stained glass is exhibited in Trinity Church in Boston, in the Smithsonian Institute as well as many museums and private collections. He also is responsible for much of the interior decoration of the Congressional Church in Newport. Several stained glass works can be found throughout La Farge Perry House as reproductions of the famous stained glass were done by Richard Edar, a local stained glass artist.
John's wife, Margaret Mason Perry, was the granddaughter of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. Oliver was known as an all around Patriot. He joined the Navy at the very young age of 13. His early start helped lead to his eventual involvement in the Battle of Lake Erie. His efforts were said to help change the tide of the war. He helped the United States defeat the British during the War of 1812. His legacy continues to have close ties to the Newport community as the Oliver Hazard Perry Tall Ship periodically docks right here in Newport Harbor. The ship is the largest civilian Sailing School Vessel in the United States. It is also the first ocean-going full-rigged ship to be built in the United States in over 100 years. Oliver Perry's contributions to the Navy helped inspire the design of our Oliver Perry guest room. It was designed to evoke the feeling of a naval commodore's quarters. There is a painting of the famous Battle of Lake Erie, displayed right above the mantle in the room.
Margaret was also the grand niece of Matthew Calbraith Perry, who was a famous naval hero himself. Besides working for the navy, Matthew Perry was also a diplomat. He was responsible for negotiating the Treaty of Kanagawa in 1854, which established trade and diplomatic relations between Japan and the United States. Before this, Japan remained relatedly isolated from the rest of the world. Thanks to Perry, the nation engaged in trade and communication with other nations around the world. This past summer, Newport, with the help of its sister city, Shimoda (in Japan), celebrated the Black Ships Festival by receiving a prestigious citation from the former Prime Minister of Japan. This citation acknowledged the Japan-American Society's continued dedication to developing and understanding education and economic ties between the citizens of Rhode Island and Japan. Because of the role Matthew Perry played in connecting Japan with the United States, the guest room named after him is decorated with Asian influences to commemorate this historic negotiation bringing the two nations together.
The Perry family has a deep rooted history in the United States. Ancestors of the family can be traced back to the arrival of the Mayflower. The family played a prominent role in the beginnings of the United States. They held spiritual and political positions in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The Perry Family members that our house celebrates continue these local ties to Rhode Island. Oliver Perry's hometown was Newport, Rhode Island while Matthew Perry's family lived on the western shore of the Narragansett Bay. Both of their legacies remain celebrated today.