History     

Narragansett Bay's House on a Rock: A Look Inside Clingstone

41° 28' 58.2'
-71° 21' 33.61''
Published on 8/7/17 3:00 PM
Last weekend I joined friends in Jamestown, Rhode Island for the 2017 New England Swan Rally hosted by Jamestown Boat Yard, which included a welcoming reception and awards at Clingstone, one of Newport and Jamestown's most famous landmarks. 
clingstone.jpg

Post by Becky Pineo

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As host of the Swan Rally, a bi-annual event that brings together Swan owners from along the East Coast, Jamestown Boat Yard invited us to their next door neighbor, Clingstone. 

As the venue for the welcoming reception and closing awards, guests were treated to a glowing skyline to usher in the Friday race to Block Island, and a simply idyllic afternoon to cap off the weekend on Sunday.

Saturday's day of racing across Block Island Sound in a Nor'easter spiced up the weekend with seven hours beating into 30 knots of wind. Once all was said and done, we survived smiling if slightly worse for wear, and looking forward to the next Swan event with a new sailing story to tell. 

From the stack of J-Class masts that have been laying in wait for JFest at the Shipyard to the rolling bright green of the New York Yacht Club, Newport Harbor and Narragansett Bay have more than their fair share of landmarks, but Clingstone is arguably the most unique. 

Built in 1905 atop a small rocky island in an island group called “The Dumplings," Clingstone sits 1/4 mile west of Jamestown Boat Yard and two miles west of downtown Newport.

Clingstone has been bought, deserted, vandalized, withstood numerous storms, and now, since 1961, has been tended to by current owner Henry Wood. 

As ownership changed hands, the 65 broken windows (read: all of them) were replaced, shingles restored, the roof repaired, and upgrades began.

 

 

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Designed by Philadelphia socialite J. S. Lovering Wharton and artist William Trost Richards, this three-story, 23-room, 10,000 square foot cedar shingled house was specially designed to withstand hurricane-force winds. 

“This house is always going to have rough edges,” Clingstone owner Henry Wood told The New York Times in 2008. “It’s never going to look like the Breakers.”



Clingstone earned its namesake when a guest referred to it as "a peach of a house." (For those as unversed in official fruit names as I was, Clingstone is a type of peach.) 

The house boasts 10 bedrooms, a grill, a cozy library, a ping pong table, and amazing views of the Narragansett Bay, the Jamestown Boat Yard, Bull Point, and the Newport Bridge. Every window in every room is worth looking through.

 

Guests can gather around the fireplace in the lounge for a cozy night inside, or host a gathering in the large dining room. (We'd opt for the fire – at just 20 feet above sea level with minimal insulation, I imagine nights at Clingstone can get a bit brisk. 

Fun fact: Wes Anderson modeled the house from Moonrise Kingdom after Clingstone, especially the interior.

Clingstone is such a curiosity, why wouldn't someone take the opportunity to climb to the widow's walk? The precariously-placed ladder might be a factor. Still, the climb is well worth the view as well as that creeping feeling that this home – like so many in New England's harbors – has stood witness to its fair share of maritime history. 

But on this modern Thursday, the J/24 fleet is rounding the windwark mark, one of the classic America's Cup boats is out for a sunset cruise, and a massive tanker is headed outbound. 

Clingstone is notably sustainable, with a windmill generating power on the roof, composting toilets, seawater filtration system and rain cistern and its household water is heated by solar panels. The house is chemical-free, and food waste is thrown into the compost for the garden.

Any house in Newport or Jamestown that has solar panels is ahead of the game. So Clingstone, at more than a century old, is still decades ahead of other notable New England homes we could name. 

Thank you again to our hosts at Jamestown Boat Yard, Nautor Swan, and Clingstone! 

Boaters, reserve your mooring at JBY: 

RESERVE AT JBY