Stockbridge Casino // 1887

The Stockbridge Casino was built in 1887-1888 according to the design of Stanford White, a principal architect of the firm McKim, Mead & White. The building was not what we think of casinos today, it was a ‘casino’ in the older sense of the term, having been established as a place for a reading-room, library, and social meetings, for the richest in town to hang out. For forty years, it offered its members tennis, billiards, dances, theatricals, and lectures throughout the summer seasons. After a period of decline after WWI, the group sold the property to Mabel Choate, who wished to move the Mission House (home of the first missionary to the Stockbridge Indians) from up on Prospect Hill to Main Street. There was reluctance to see the casino torn down, so a group of local citizens — led by Walter Leighton Clark, President of the Grand Central Art Galleries of New York; Austen Fox Riggs, psychiatrist; and Daniel Chester French, sculptor — acquired land at the end of Main Street and moved the Casino to its present site, saving it from the wrecking ball. The building was renovated and reopened in 1928 as the Berkshire Playhouse, and was later renamed the Fitzpatrick Main Stage, a theater run by the Berkshire Theatre Group.

Narragansett Pier Casino (The Towers) // 1886

Designed by the New York firm of McKim, Mead and White, with landscaping designed by Fredrick Law Olmsted, the Narragansett Pier Casino in Narragansett, Rhode Island was one of the finest Gilded Age resorts in New England upon its opening in 1886. Considered to be the center of social life for summer residents in Narragansett Pier, a close second to the glamour of Newport, the Casino structure stood complete for just under 15 years. Guests of the resort enjoyed beach-going, billiards, tennis, cards, bowling, shooting, boating, and beautiful reading rooms, shops, restaurants and a theater within in the Casino. In 1900, most of the Shingle style building burned down during what is known on September 12, ending the Summer season. That day, a fire broke out in the neighboring Rockingham Hotel. The flames spread quickly to the Casino and many other significant wood-frame buildings, and leaving only the stone porte-cochere and towers standing of the original casino.

The stone structure was damaged multiple more times from hurricanes and fires, but stood proudly as a lasting reminder to Narragansett Pier’s Gilded Age past. The Towers is now the premier event space in town and a symbol for the town. Sadly, much of the area of Narragansett Pier today is dotted with surface parking and (in my opinion) uninspiring condominium/hotel developments, though there are collections of significant structures nearby that survived the fire.

Circa 1899 image of Narragansett Casino, before a fire destroyed most of the structure. Detroit Publishing Company image.