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is anybody familiar with concrete wall construction? 1900's - 1920's

My wife and I are looking to by a house in Newport RI, and we had the inspection done this weekend. The house was built between 1900 & 1920 and I expected to find plaster walls. Instead I found what appears to be concrete walls with a plaster-like smooth finish on all the exterior walls of the house on the 1st floor only, up to the 9' plaster ceilings. The second floor appears to be all the conventional stick-built construction with plaster walls. There is an exterior aluminum siding on the house that is not original, but covers the entire structure, so currently I do not know what the exterior of the concrete walls look like. Would these wall be solid concrete, about 8" thick? when I bang on the interior walls it sure feels like solid concrete walls.
Does this concrete construction (first floor exterior walls) have any insulating value? How difficult is it to open up to a larger window if wanted? how common was this construction method? thanks in advance to anybody that can shed some light on this for me.

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