Ferncliffe // c.1760

One of the most unique houses in Bristol (and the State of Rhode Island for that matter) is Ferncliffe, a colonial farmhouse that morphed into this beauty in the late 19th century. In 1749, the 200-acre farm of Benjamin Church, containing land where this home sits, was divided among his four daughters. Thomas Peck, a farmer, purchased one share in 1761; his deed refers to a house already on the property. The home was likely a five-bay Georgian home with little details. However, in 1882, James L. Tobin an undertaker, bought the property which then extended west to Narragansett Bay. He “modernized” the home with brackets, front porch, oh and a massive three-story tower with pyramidal roof! Tobin’s daughter Mary named the house for the fern plants lining the waterside cliffs at the far extent of the property, giving it the name “Ferncliffe”. Since then, the farmland was subdivided and sold off and now contains many house lots, with many of the streets laid out named after his children and wife. After Tobin’s death in 1925, he willed the home to his two living daughters, Helen and Annie.

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