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History of The Sullivan House

The Sullivan House is named after Cornelius J. Sullivan, who purchased it in 1927. A graduate of Harvard Law, Mr. Sullivan was a Manhattan lawyer, patron of the arts, and member of the New York Board of Education.

His wife was Mary Sullivan, who taught art before her marriage and afterwards became a collector, gallery owner and champion of Modernism. Mrs. Sullivan, along with Miss Lillie P. Bliss and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, was one of the founders of New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

The Sullivans were passionate about promoting the cause of Modernism in America, and they were also involved in Irish and Irish-American affairs. The Sullivan’s personal art collection reflected these interests. It contained works by great Modernists such as Cézanne, Matisse, Picasso, Van Gogh, Redon, Rauaults and Toulouse-Lautrec. And it also had a strong Irish dimension with works by Jack Yeats and A.E. Russell.

The Sullivan House was built in 1904 by Simon R. Ball, and is listed on the Rhode Island Historical Register. Its architecture is unique with beach stone exterior, all-wood interior, stone fireplace, large wrap-around porch, distinctive gables, and quality construction.

The Sullivan family is related to the current owners, the Ball-O’Brien family, on the paternal side. The Ball family is related to the current owners on the maternal side.

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