140-144 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island

The commercial block at the corner of Bellevue Avenue and Deblois Street in Newport, around 1906. Image courtesy of the Providence Public Library.

The scene in 2017:

In the late 19th century, Shingle-style architecture became virtually synonymous with New England coastal resort communities, and Newport featured many of the style’s pioneering works. Although this building can hardly compare to the Newport Casino or Isaac Bell House further up Bellevue Avenue, it nonetheless shows the style’s influence on local architecture. This particular building dates back to the 1890s, and was originally the home of the Kazanjian Company, a rug company whose store was located in the ground floor, as seen in the first photo.

The Kazanjian Company was founded in 1882 by Bedros and John Kazanjian, two brothers who immigrated to Newport from Armenia. City directories list their business here at this address throughout the 1880s, although the current building does not appear to have been built until the following decade. Either way, by the time the first photo was taken around 1906 they were selling a wide variety of household goods beyond just rugs. The sign above the first-floor windows advertises “Oriental rugs, portieres, embroideries, draperies,antiques, bric-a-brac, curios,” and some of their rugs are on display outside of the windows.

The Kazanjian family also operated a store nearby at the present-day corner of Bellevue Avenue and Memorial Boulevard, right next to the Newport Casino. Both of these stores would remain in business for many years, appearing in city directories into the 1960s. During this time, the upper floors were rented as apartments. The 1920 census, for example, shows seven different households, primarily single people and married couples with no children. The occupations were highly varied, and included workers at a dress shop, a photographer’s studio, a beauty shop, a grocery store, and the U.S. Navy base in Newport.

More than 110 years after the first photo was taken, Newport remains a popular coastal resort, and Bellevue Avenue is still a premier shopping area. Kazanjian & Company is long gone from here, and the building’s storefronts have seen some minor alterations over the years, but overall the building remains well-preserved. It is a mixed-use property still, with three stores on the first floor and apartments on the upper floors, and it is one of the many historic 19th century buildings that still line Bellevue Avenue.

5 thoughts on “140-144 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island”

  1. My Great Grandfather was John H Kazanjian who as outlined in your article operated
    the family business with his brother Bedros at 140-144 Bellevue Ave. Thank you for your research. If you ever decide to write about John H Kazanian Co. Ltd which was located at the corner of Bath Rd and Bellevue Ave (162 Bellevue). I have the original arthitect’s (Hunt) picture. The photo was taken diagonally from across the street.
    Contact me and I make sure that you get a copy.

    Kind regards,
    Norman Bailey
    401-338-1153

    Reply
  2. Hi Derick and Norman,
    Thank-you for sharing information on the Kazanjian store in Newport. From family stories I understood that my Great-grandfather Phillip Kazanjian was a brother of John. I’m wondering if you knew of him, he immigrated from Armenia to California.
    We have a blue and white dish from the store.
    It is a small world.

    Reply
  3. Hi. I found this lamp while doing a demo and remodeling a house. It looked so cool I couldnt throw it out. It’s missing the shade, and some of the bottom wood is missing. I was wondering if you have any details on it. I’m not interested in selling it no matter what price is because I’m kind of a hoarder and I like cool stuff. I would like to know more about it like who made it in japan and how old it is. Its white mosaic with 2 dragons on it. Has 2 of the same looking red inked white stamps on it saying 1860 or 860 made in china for the ceramic and the wooden bottom says john h kazanjian made in japan. Thank you

    Reply

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