Class and Leisureat America's First ResortNewport, Rhode Island1870-1914

George T. Downing

George T. DowningGeorge T. Downing was one of Newport's successful middle-class businessmen.

Downing migrated from Washington, DC, and New York, to Newport to participate in the summer resort industry.

Downing opened the Sea Girt Hotel on Bellevue Avenue in 1854. After the hotel burned in 1860, he built a commercial real estate block on the site of the hotel.

Downing also owned and operated a catering service and retail shops that served Newport's summer residents and vacationers.

Downing was involved in the abolitionist movement with Frederick Douglass. He worked with Thomas Wentworth Higginson to desegregate Newport's schools in 1866.

Kay Davis, University of Virginia, © 2001