John Dixon Johnston was born in 1849 near St. John, New Brunswick. He later moved to Rhode Island and become an architect in Newport in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Mr. Johnston was self-taught and was a pioneer in architecture during a time when the profession was becoming more popular and respected. Mr. Johnson was involved in the construction of almost 200 documented buildings in Newport and Jamestown, among which is the 719 Bellevue, condo location. His most well-known project was the designing and building of Newport City Hall.
Back in the 1800’s the major buildings in Newport, RI were often referred to as the name of the family for whom the house was built. In 1855 Charles Burdick of Cranston and Burdick Construction Company built the 2 ½ story empire- style home for Charles Burdick and his family. The home was somewhat of an architectural calling card for the company especially as the co-owner, Mr. Cranston of Cranston and Burdick lived in an equally stately home just across the street.