Historic Newport home built by famed painter sells for $2.2M

A HISTORIC HOME at 2 Corne St. in Newport was recently sold for $2.2 million. / COURTESY MOTT & CHACE SOTHEBY'S INTERNATIONAL REALTY

NEWPORT – The former Newport home of Michele Felice Cornè, an accomplished Italian American painter credited with helping introduce tomatoes into the American diet, was recently sold for $2.2 million, according to Mott & Chace Sotheby’s International Realty, which represented the buyer.

The home located at 2 Corne St. was built in the early 1820s for Cornè, who grew up in Naples but fled to America during his homeland’s occupation by France in 1799, settling in Newport after previously living in Salem, Mass.

Cornè was celebrated for his panoramic-style paintings of American naval warfare, including his “Bombardment of Tripoli” that captured the American victory in the First Barbary War. And the painter’s other claim to fame is that he helped allay fears among New Englanders that eating tomatoes could be poisonous, consuming them regularly and publicly to demonstrate their safe, nutritious nature.

“Home of the artist Michele Felice Cornè who introduced the tomato into this country,” states a plaque hanging in front of the home, above another sign marking its place in the National Register of Historic Places.

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The 2,876-square-foot colonial home, located in the Historic Hill neighborhood, contains three bedrooms, three full bathrooms and one half-bathroom, according to city property records.

The home features original hardwood floors, six fireplaces and central air conditioning, according to Mott & Chase.

The first level of the building includes a library and dining room, along with a pantry outfitted with custom shelves and storage, next to a large chef’s kitchen and a powder room by the rear entrance, the real estate firm said. There’s also a breakfast nook with French doors that overlook a lush, well-landscaped garden. The bedrooms are all located on the second level, each with their own en suite bathrooms.

Outside, a motorized double-door gate opens to a cobblestone driveway with space for two vehicles, the real estate firm said. The home is located on a 0.10-acre lot, according to city property records. The backyard of the property is completely enclosed, with a Brice terrace next to the two-tiered garden, surrounded by crab apple trees, hydrangeas, roses and a garden shed, the real estate firm said.

The property was most recently valued by Newport assessors in fiscal year 2021 as being worth $1.1 million, according to property tax assessment records, which is public information listed online by the city.

The two-story home was last owned by Karen Lagatta, who bought the property for $1.13 million in 2019, according to city property records. A copy of a deed documenting the recent $2.2 million sale announced by Mott & Chace, and identifying the new owner, was not available through Newport’s online real estate property records database as of deadline for this story. Mott & Chace did not disclose the name of the buyer.

Marc Larocque is a PBN contributing writer. 

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