Dedicated in March 1823, the South Congregational Church of Newport is a prime example of Federal style architecture, showing the widespread influence of Charles Bulfinch and Asher Benjamin as interpreted by two regional builder-architects: Elias Carter and Isaac Damon. The church's body and clock tower closely resemble Damon's brick church at Greenfield (MA) built in 1819 and replicated at Charlestown (NH).
The church steeple, however, replicates one found on the 1821 Carter-style structure at Acworth (NH). The synthesis of the two produced an entirely new form: simple, well-proportioned, and finely detailed. Nevertheless, architectural historians identify Newport's church as the northernmost in the Templeton Run of similarly-steepled churches—though it is the only brick building among them.
Newport's brick meetinghouse, with soaring arcades and unique ornamentation, was framed in 1822 by master carpenter John Leach. The salmon-colored bricks were manufactured locally and laid by a team of masons directed by John Silver of Newport (NH). The minister at the time was the Rev. James Wheelock, grandson of Dartmouth College founder Eleazar Wheelock.
Privately financed, the cost of Newport's church must have exceeded the $8,000 paid in 1824 by the Baptist congregation in Concord (NH) for a smaller brick church by the same builder. Comparable churches of wood construction generally cost between $6,000 and $7,000. Newport's brick construction, therefore, may have increased its cost by 30% or more. After selling a limited number of pews to individual members and to the Society itself, the building committee sold the meetinghouse to the Congregational Church in 1827 for $500.
The property was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.