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.

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.