Here’s the second in my series on “Lost America,” showcasing vanished and demolished architectural treasures of American history, inspired by the 1971 books by Constance Greiff.
This magnificent New England mansion went by a number of names during its 100+ years of existence. In official records it is often referred to as the DeWolf-Middleton House, or just Middleton House, but colloquially it was known as “Hey Bonny Hall.” It was located on the colorfully-named Poppasquash Road in Bristol, Rhode Island, and it was obviously the place to live in the early 19th century. The house was built in 1808 and designed by Russell Warren, a pioneer of the Greek Revival style, best known for various buildings he designed at Brown University. It was built for William DeWolf, a pillar of the Rhode Island community, who married into the Middleton family–the Middletons of South Carolina were stalwarts of the South, and one of them, Henry Middleton, was prominent in the American Revolution.
“Hey Bonny Hall,” which evidently got its name from a song customarily sung by one of the South Carolina-born residents, had a beautiful circular staircase and in its heyday was furnished with art and historical treasures from both the United States and England. Some of these included furniture that was owned by the Adams family (yes that Adams family), and a collection of silverware dating back to the Tudor era. The house was also surrounded by beautiful gardens and flowers. The DeWolf and Middleton families continued to live here well into the 20th century.
Although they are not reproduced in Lost America, I was lucky enough to find two photos of the interior of Hey Bonny Hall, which were published in a 1914 book called Historic Homes of New England by Mary Northend. Here you can see the architectural and art magnificence of this wonderful house, including the fireplace. Note the fascinating marble work.
I couldn’t figure out exactly what happened to Hey Bonny Hall, except that it was demolished in 1944 (Constance Greiff says it was the 1950s but she’s been wrong before). The photo at the top of this article was taken either in 1934 or 1937 as part of the New Deal program to photograph and document treasures of American architecture. Sadly, these photos are all we have left of this beautiful home, that and the memories of those who once lived there.