Exploring Newport's Harrison Avenue and Halidon Hill - Part 2
After studying its Gilded Age history (click here for my previous post), I decided to explore Harrison Avenue and Halidon Hill on a visit to Newport last summer, curious to see what if anything remained of its Gilded Age past. Much to my pleasant surprise, plenty does. While at a passing glance it might appear that most of the cottages are long gone and the former estates broke up, it pays to look beyond the later development and explore side streets. One will be rewarded by some of the Newport’s hidden gems, some still well-maintained and occupied as single-family homes. Even some vestiges of some long gone grander estates remain.
Staying at the Mill Street Inn, it was easy to get there by foot. I prefer walking for exploring whenever possible (it allows me to stop and take in details without the likelihood of being rear-ended at worst, or just being a total annoyance at best to cars behind me). As I began walking along Carroll Ave towards Harrison, the homes consisted mostly of densely spaced middle-class housing stock.
Continuing, here and there a Victorian cottage seemingly from the resort era would pop up, lawns became larger and homes farther apart, indicating I was approaching the edges of the former estate district.
Despite having its Harrison Avenue frontage sold off long ago for modern development, I was delighted to find Ocean Manor (now apartments) looking fairly intact and still gracefully sited, set back from the street surrounded by mature plantings after turning onto Chastellux avenue.
The stone gates next door bore the name Chastellux. While it is hard to get a good glimpse of the house (let me state here that I do not believe in trespassing on private property and will only take photos with at least one foot on public ground),
I understand that it is still owned and well maintained by descendants of the builder Lorillard Spencer.
Across Chastellux Ave things looked fairly good at the Chalet as well.
Walking back down Harrison Avenue, I could find no sign of the Moorings.
But this stone tipped me off to the location of Friedham (formerly Lawnfield) next door.
Somewhat hidden behind a hedge, it is hard to get a good view of the house- recent photos online suggest that it too is in good condition as well.
While Pencraig was torn down in the 1970s, its handsome brick walls that still remain coupled with lush landscaping lends the newer homes on the site an elegance from an older time.
Bonniecrest (now converted to condominiums is best seen from the harbor, but its impressive gates give a hint of the grandeur down the drive.
The same holds true next door at Beach Bound (also now condominiums),
here one can see a corner of the mansion, which still retains its gilded age aura, from the gate.
At BeachBound I reversed my course, looking for Harrison House and Pencraig Cottage on the opposite side of the street. I have heard both still exist, obscured under later additions. While I wasn’t sure which ones they were, some former service buildings that once served Pencraig and Harbourview were a little more obvious.
Turning down Halidon Avenue, one can get an even better view of the Chalet.
Right below that stands Mary Mason Jone’s Bayview, looking stately and elegant. Across the street, one can only catch glimpses of the Roofline of Harbour Court, owned by the New York Yacht Club today.
Continuing back towards town on Wellington Ave, I passed the former site of Harbourview.
I knew the mansion had been torn down long ago but was happy that its gates and walls still remain, which helped make the later house that rose in its place look not half bad!
While I couldn’t get a glimpse of Halidon Hall, (one of the neighborhoods oldest cottages ) Bluebird Cottage, a later cottage built on the property by the Hartshorn family is clearly visible from the street.
Thus ended my tour of the neighborhood – a fun, quick exploration of one of Newport's lesser-known corners that I encourage others to try!