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  SUBSTANTIAL AND EXTRAORDINARY, 19TH CENTURY, HAND-MADE GATE FROM THE JOSHUA PECKHAM RESIDENCE AT 116-118 BROADWAY, NEWPORT, RHODE ISLAND, circa 1877-1879
Dimensions (inches): $6,500
Description:
Incredibly substantial, craftsman-made gates from a historic home on Broadway in Newport, Rhode Island, commissioned by an industrious native of the state by the name of Joshua Peckham (b. Aug. 15, 1839). A full 5.5” thick at the railing, each expertly built, mortise and pegged, with beaded edges and with two, inset, molded panels displaying fretwork decoration in each top register, with scalloped and pierced slats below that include pierced lettering to display both the owner’s name and that of the street. The rail is pitched like a roof, with a shallow double-bevel, and bull-nosed on either side. The gate is painted in a pleasant tobacco tan, oyster white, and red. The proportions are purposefully off-set, so that a person could enter in the smaller gate, or both could be opened for a carriage or wagon.

If someone has the room for both, they make an extraordinary statement. I’ll mince no words, however, when I state that I bought them for the smaller gate alone, the 19th century date, the craftsmanship, and the paint surface, but mostly for the word “Broadway,” which has meaning well beyond its original intent. The gate with Peckham’s name, his story, and the provenance are but an amazing bonus. The real value is in the smaller gate.

The Heath-Peckham House, at 116-118 Broadway in Newport, Rhode Island, was built sometime prior to 1758. A two-story, gabled colonial, the home was built by John Heath, a cordwainer (boot maker), who is believed to have worked at a nearby leather tannery. In 1763, the house was sold to barber and wig-maker Benoni Peckham (b. 1728), who, in spite of his age, would see service in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. It is not completely clear how Joshua Peckham, for whom this gate was made, acquired the Heath-Peckham house. Though born in Newport County, and almost certainly related to Benoni, he was not a direct descendent. Instead he was the son of another Joshua Peckham (b. Jan. 31, 1797, d. 1871), a farmer, and his wife Eliza R. (Tilley) Peckham (b. 1800, d. 1845). The young Joshua actually spent most of his years outside Rhode Island. He was a successful businessman and a prolific buyer of real estate, who seems to have bought, sold, and invested constantly, with interests in numerous trades. Leaving the state at age 17, he traveled to East Bend (Champagne County), Illinois, bought land and took up farming. On August 4th, 1861, he mustered into Company F of the 25th Illinois Infantry at St. Louis, Missouri. Shortly thereafter he contracted Typhoid Fever, developed Rheumatism, and was honorably discharged in February of 1862. After a year spent regaining his health, and while the war was still on, he erected a general store in East Bend (1863). Successful in about everything he pursued, he returned to Newport in the fall of 1869 and purchased a grocery store, at which quadrupled past sales in just two years of ownership. He bought a grist mill, expanded into boots and shoes, opened a second store, and resided above the latter for some time. On Oct. 5th 1871, he had wed Hattie N. Kaull, a Newport, Rhode Island native, with whom he had three children. Just 8 years after his return, in 1877, he retired and sold the businesses. This appears to have been when he acquired the Health-Peckham House. The retirement was short-lived. Peckham remained in Newport until 1880, when he moved to California to invest in orchards, vineyards, a tea company, a hotel, a ranch, a pumping plant, a dairy business, etc. He appears to have rested little until he passed in 1915. An active member of the Grand Army of the Republic (the primary organization for Union Army veterans), as well as many other groups, he was interred with a headstone that displayed the name of his Illinois regiment. By the 3rd quarter of the 20th century, his former Newport home had been extensively remodeled for commercial use.

Condition: Lightly cleaned. Chips in the pierced lettering of the Broadway gate were carefully filled and restored, with great attention to preserving the wonderful, early painted surface.
   
Primary Color: oyster white, tan, and red
Earliest Date: 1877
Latest Date: 1889
For Sale Status: Available
Price Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281
E-mail: info@jeffbridgman.com
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