John Banister (1707-1767) was a Boston merchant who married Hermione Pelham in Newport in 1737. The Pelham family were aristocrats, of royal descent through the Boleyns. They inherited a large part of Governor Benedict Arnold’s estate from Freelove (Arnold) Pelham and cut Pelham Street through the middle of the property. The Pelham holdings also included the Old Stone Mill. From 1751-1754 John Banister built his house and also owned wharves and warehouses nearby on the harbor. Family members included renowned architect and builder Peter Harrison.
The house passed to his son John Banister, Jr. in 1767. During the Revolution, it was occupied by General William Prescott, commander of British and Hessian forces in Newport from 1776-1779. After the War, the house was returned to the family and used until it was sold to paint and oil merchant Joshua Sayre in 1827. The Sayre family occupied the house until 1906.