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July 20, 2009



Clingstone, an unusual 103-year-old mansion in Rhode Island's Narragansett Bay, survives through the love and hard work of family and friends.


Henry Wood (below),


the owner, runs the house like a camp: all skilled workers welcome. The Jamestown Boatyard hauls the family's boats and floating dock and stores them each winter in return for a week's use of the house in the summer.

Mr. Wood, a 79-year-old Boston architect, bought the house with his ex-wife Joan in 1961 for $3,600. It had been empty for two decades.

Clingstone had been built by a distant cousin, J.S. Lovering Wharton.  Mr.  Wharton worked with an artist, William Trost Richards, to create a house of picture windows with 23 rooms on three stories radiating off a vast central hall.


The total cost of the construction, which was completed in 1905, was $36,982.99.


Above, an early sketch of the house. Mr.  Wood is as proud as any parent of his house, and keeps a fat scrapbook of photographs and newspaper clippings that document its best moments. Many of the historic photos he has were provided by the company that insured the house for its original owners.

The Newport Bridge is visible from the windows of the ping-pong room, to the left of the fireplace (below).


The house is maintained by an ingenious method: the Clingstone work weekend. Held every year around Memorial Day, it brings 70 or so friends and Clingstone lovers together to tackle jobs like washing all 65 windows. Anne Tait, who is married to Mr. Wood's son Dan, refinished the kitchen floor on one of her first work weekends.


There are 10 bedrooms at Clingstone, all with indecently beautiful views.


The dining room table seats 14. 


Refinishing the chairs is a task on the list for a future work weekend.


A sign by the ladder that leads to the roof reads, "No entry after three drinks or 86 years of age."  "It used to say 80 but we had a guy on a work weekend who was 84, so I changed it," said Mr. Wood, ever the realist. "It would have been a shame to curtail the activities of a willing volunteer."

[via Nicholas Wood]

July 20, 2009 at 10:01 AM | Permalink


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This is my dream home. I have never in my life seen anything as beautiful as this. A dream come true. How I envy the occupants.

Posted by: Betty | Jul 23, 2009 4:06:10 PM

Here's Microsoft's Bird's Eye View, which gives a more Google Earth look at it: http://bit.ly/4vx8Na

Posted by: mark | Jul 21, 2009 10:01:40 AM

Can you imagine the delicious aroma of salt air, ocean humidity and surely a fog horn somewhere in the distance? The children are fortunate to have such a special place in which to create lasting memories to look back on.

Posted by: Kay | Jul 20, 2009 11:48:56 PM

Is this it?

The drawing of it was probably taken at low tide and some of the photos at a higher tide. What damage a meter rise in sea level (as the IPCC expects over the next 100 yrs) might do is anyone's guess but I imagine it would be freak storm surge rather than the change in sea level that would do any damage. Plus the structure is mostly wood and could be elevated on jacks and reattached to steel supports (or perhaps a new basement) anchored in the islands stone foundation.

Posted by: jd | Jul 20, 2009 11:36:05 PM

sure it won't last forever but it has weathered some nasty storms...

Would love to ride out a force 10 gale there with a case of beer and cord of wood for the fireplace

Posted by: Fritz | Jul 20, 2009 7:33:43 PM

Forget once in a lifetime storm the seas are rising anyway so this home is going to be an underwater haven soon for the fishes in 50-70years.

Posted by: megan | Jul 20, 2009 6:17:15 PM

The link for this wasn't included here's the original NYTimes article
Who Lives There - http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/07/garden/07clingstone.html

Slide Show

Posted by: megan | Jul 20, 2009 6:15:38 PM

Just beautiful, my luck I would buy it (in my dreams) and the "once every 1000 year storm would happen......"

Posted by: Joe Peach | Jul 20, 2009 4:43:29 PM

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