Elaine Robinson


In 1967, Sydney and Catharine Wright purchased the Great Friends Meeting House in Newport and invited Antoinette Downing and Orin M. Bullock Jr. to work on the restoration. In the United States, Downing and Bullock were two of the most knowledgeable and experienced people in colonial architecture and the preservation field at that time. They worked with a team that included the owners, researchers, architects, church members, and a renowned archaeologist. The team documented the history of the building and the surrounding property, and investigated the building’s physical characteristics. They worked together for more than four years to gather as much physical evidence as possible and come to an agreement on the period to which the building should be restored. This article will show the process that Orin Bullock used to restore the Meeting House and his adherence to the documented standards of the day. It will also show his dedication to the theory of adaptive reuse, his goal to document every detail of the historical, physical, and archaeological research conducted on the property, and his intention to maintain the integrity of the building at all cost. Orin Bullock brought all of his knowledge of restoration architecture to bear on this project and would not lower or compromise his standards during the process that was eventually completed in 1975.