A Grand Dame Reborn on the Rhode Island Coast
New England at the turn of the century was home to many a grand resort from the mountains to the coasts, where families would come and spend the summer to escape their hectic urban lives. These properties became hubs of tradition and catered to families offering a wide variety of recreational opportunities. Many of these historic properties were eventually lost to fire, became too expensive to maintain and were torn down, or were abandoned. Thanks to a a $140 million makeover, the Ocean House Hotel in Watch Hill, RI, reopened last summer.
Originally built in 1868, the Ocean House operated as a hotel until 2003. A year later, plans were announced to sell the hotel to a developer who would raze the historic structure and build luxury homes in its place. In stepped Watch Hill resident Chuck Royce, a wall street investment advisor, who led an effort to preserve and rebuild the hotel. Ultimately, the building was in too dilapidated a state to rehabilitate and it was torndown and rebuilt with an eye toward maintaining the architectural detail of the original structure. More than 5,000 salvageable artifacts and furnishing elements were saved from the original structure’s historic interiors and have become part of the new building. As noted by Edward F. (Ted) Sanderson, the Executive Director of the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission and Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer, “To me, the new Ocean House is a historic preservation success because it maintains the historic visual character of the original Ocean House, and it carries on the historic tradition of Watch Hill’s seaside resort hotels.” www.oceanhouseri.com