Hazard Castle // 1846

Set on 38 acres of land in Narragansett, Rhode Island, Hazard Castle stands prominently over the tree-line expressing designs of medieval European forts. The building was begun in 1846 as the main house for Joseph Peace Hazard’s seaside farm and was supposedly modeled after an abbey which Hazard had seen in England. The tower, which is 105 feet tall, was apparently constructed as a platform from which Hazard could more easily
communicate with his deceased ancestor’s spirits. The tower was completed in 1884. The Providence Catholic Diocese bought the property from the Hazard family in 1951 as a retreat house, and now is home to the Middlebridge School, a private boarding school for children with learning difficulties.

Joseph Hazard (1807-1892) lived in Peace Dale (now part of South Kingstown) Rhode Island and became involved in the family textile mill owned by his brothers Rowland G. and Isaac P. Hazard. Joseph was admitted to the partnership of “R.G. Hazard & Co.” in 1828; this business later became the Peace Dale Manufacturing Company. In his latter part of his life, Hazard was instrumental in the development of Narragansett Pier as popular summer resort.

Hazard Castle c. 1890 after completion of tower. Courtesy of Digital Commonwealth.

Stone Lea // 1884

One of the grandest summer cottages in Narragansett has to be Stone Lea, a large, 2-1/2 story stone and wood-frame Shingle Style dwelling at the end of Newton Ave, off Ocean Road. Designed by McKim, Mead & White, the cottage was built for George Vaux Cresson a manufacturer based out of Philadelphia. Cresson apparently paid $26,000 (about $750,000 based on inflation to 2019) not including the land costs. Various members of the Cresson family used Stone Lea as their summer residence until 1911, when the property was sold. In later years, the Newberry’s, major stockholders of Packard Motor Car Company, purchased Stone Lea and summered here.  Sadly, the home was significantly altered in the 1940s and some of the amazing original details by McKim, Mead & White were removed.

The Dunes Club // 1939

This elite, members-only beach club in Narragansett, Rhode Island was originally founded in 1928. The property featured a gate house, club house, bars and cabanas for members who did not want to mingle with the typical tourists or residents. The New England Hurricane of 1938, which destroyed many buildings in Narragansett and the greater region, flooded and battered the first Dunes Club and required it to be demolished. The next year, the members pooled together resources (along with help from insurance) to hired the firm of Purves, Cope & Stewart Architects from Philadelphia, to design the Colonial Revival-Art Deco style clubhouse.

Constructed almost entirely of wood, the elongated building had two main entrances, one facing the drive approach, and one facing the beach. The street-facing entrance has a more residential quality with modestly sized windows and an entrance portico, while the beachfront facade showcases the views with large multi-pane casement windows and decks running the length of the building. To one side, cabanas were built surrounding central sandy courtyards, all with views to the beach.

Street facade, courtesy of Gottscho-Schleisner

Sea Lawn // 1875

Located next to the former Narragansett Pier Casino, Sea Lawn (aka the Reading Room) is an excellent example of a Second Empire structure with Stick style detailing. Built in 1875, The Reading Room was originally constructed as a summer cottage, Sea Lawn and was located on a nearby street and moved shortly after the completion of the Narragansett Pier Casino owners as an amenity of the new resort. The building was a men’s club where the elite residents and guests of Narragansett Pier could meet, drink and discuss books over cigars. The building was restored by Lila Delman Real Estate office, who now occupies the site with some private apartments.

South Ferry Church // 1851

One of the most photogenic churches I have ever seen has to go to the South Ferry Church in Narragansett, Rhode Island. Built around 1850, the vernacular Gothic style church was designed by Thomas Alexander Tefft, a Providence-based architect who graduated from Brown University in 1851 before starting his own firm that summer. The South Ferry Church was originally part of the thriving South Ferry textile village, north of Narragansett Pier which developed later. During these early years, the church was a meeting place for some of the most prominent families in Narragansett. However, changes in the textile industry and transportation technology led to a decline in the village. The church was later owned by the University of Rhode Island as part of its Bay Campus.

Louis Sherry Cottages // 1888

Louis Sherry, a well-known New York restauranteur, was contracted to be the first Superintendent for the newly opened Narragansett Pier Casino. He soon realized the need for the wealthy to stay in private summer cottages instead of hotels. In 1887, Sherry purchased five acres of land in Narragansett Pier and hired the firm of McKim, Mead, and White, the same firm who designed the main casino to design a small complex of cottages surrounding a central green and restaurant.

A total of six cottages were constructed with a casino/restaurant at the center and all were similar in style and features amenities including porches and electric lights. The enterprise was successful until 1912, when a fire started in the casino’s kitchen, destroying that structure and three cottages, and three cottages across the street on Earl’s Court, another luxury development. One of the Sherry Cottages was rebuilt, but the fire disrupted the original design intent and siting of the cottages.

Yellow Patch // 1916

One of the later summer cottages in Narragansett Pier is “Yellow Patch” a 2 1/2-story home which looks like it was transported from England. The stuccoed cottage features a unique “thatch roof” with eyebrow dormers and large board shutters, evoking the rural cottages of the Cotswolds. Designed by Providence architect George F. Hall, the home was built for a Kate Lane Richardson as her summer cottage.

Shadowlawn // 1886

Located at 85 Center Street in Narragansett, Rhode Island, this Stick style and Queen Anne home exudes charm. Named Shadowlawn, the home was built in 1887 for Clarke and Annie Pullen who already lived in town. The two got married in late 1885, so this home was likely a wedding present from a parent or just purchased by Mr. Pullen for his new wife. The home features intricate stick-work at the front porch and decorative shingle siding. While there is no known reason for the naming of the house, it is likely due to the large garden at the rear of the home under the shadow of the tall Victorian home.

Shingle-nook // 1887

Appropriately named “Shingle-nook” this home at the corner of Central and Boon Streets in Narragansett Pier was built in 1887 and is an example of a Shingle style home with a blocky massing. The home was designed by architect George Albree Freeman (1859–1934), who was born and raised in New York City and graduated in architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He practiced in Stamford, Connecticut, mostly in the late 19th century, before moving to Sarasota, Florida, where he continued to practice until his death. Freeman was just 28 years old when he designed Shingle-nook.

The summer cottage was originally owned by James Brander Matthews (1852-1929), who was regarded in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as America’s leading authority on drama during his time as professor at Columbia University in New York. Interestingly, Matthews wrote an article on Narragansett Pier in Harper’s Weekly, August 1887, towards the end of the summer season at his new home. In the article he stated, “This year the Pier has been unusually crowded during the present month, when the season is always at its height, and the hotels have hardly been able to accommodate the rush of visitors” which coincided with the newly opened Narragansett Pier Casino by McKim, Mead & White. The home was restored by the current owners and is now available for rent for the summer months.

Narragansett Life Saving Station // 1888

Located just a stones throw from the former Narragansett Pier Casino, this modest stone structure was built by the same architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White. Completed in 1888, the Romanesque Revival building replaced an earlier (1873) wood station. The original life saving station was established in the early 1870’s as part of a U.S. Life Saving Service expansion program, which originally began in New Jersey and Long Island and was taken over by Congress to expand up the New England coast and be staffed by full-time crews to observe swimmers and boaters in the waters. This station, along with many other Gilded Age buildings relating to the commercial quality of Narragansett Pier sadly were demolished due to fires, hurricanes and urban renewal over the years, leaving a fraction of what once stood.

The Narragansett Life Saving Station was in use from 1888 until 1946. The stone structure has had some very un-sympathetic additions over the years and at the time of me photographing it, more work was going on.