Keeping Your Distance

Please click on image for further details

Please click on image for further details

Nick Churton of Mayfair International Realty discovers a house in Rhode Island where it’s easy to get away from it all – but just as easy to stay in touch. Leading broker, Lila Delman Real Estate, showed him the way.

Whilst some of the most notable homes in America were being built along Bellevue Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island in the late nineteenth century by some of the wealthiest and most powerful families in the world, just a couple of miles away on Conanicut Island another influential group from Philadelphia were setting up an altogether more understated community.

This group was not following the social lead of Gilded Age New York families with names such as Vanderbilt, Astor and Widener. These Philadelphia families, who sought a quieter life, included the Whartons who made their fortune through manufacturing steel. But perhaps the most celebrated family member to bear that name was Edith Wharton the Pulitzer Prize winning author of novels such as The House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence. The latter described the Newport social scene at that time.

It was one of Edith Wharton’s sisters-in-law who commissioned Meeresblick, a summer cottage that fronts Mackerel Cove on Narragansett Bay and is only a couple of miles away from Jamestown, named after James II and incorporated as a town in 1678.

While the desire was to get away from the crowd in Newport they did not try to get away from the architecture. The family commissioned Philadelphia architects Pritchett & Pritchett to design the house which is so indicative of the Victorian era. Outside are stone and shingle elevations with shaded verandas under gabled slate roofs. The interior, designed to be cool in hot summers, features finely crafted woodwork and some excellent stained glass windows.

Here then is a delightful waterside home ideal for a family wanting to enjoy the Newport scene from a distance. Keeping distance is a theme at Meeresblick. The original owners could clearly see their parents’ house just over the bay. It is still there and it’s close – but not too close!

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