Brenton Point State Park
|Brenton Point State Park|
|Rhode Island state park|
Brenton Point in 2012
|Elevation||26 ft (8 m) |
|Management||Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Division of Parks & Recreation|
Brenton Point State Park is located on Aquidneck Island in the town of Newport, Rhode Island. Brenton Point State Park is located off of Ocean Drive, offering majestic vistas of the Atlantic Ocean as it meets Narragansett Bay.
The point was named after Governor William Brenton, an early settler, who owned the land as a large farm in the 17th century. Brenton originally called the area "Hammersmith" after his hometown in England. The original name survives in the name of Hammersmith Farm, an estate on the point later owned by the family of First Lady Jackie Kennedy Onassis.
In 1776, during the American Revolution, a battery was set up on the southwest part of Brenton Point as a coastal defense. About 1876, lawyer and businessman Theodore M. Davis built a mansion known as "The Reefs" (later "The Bells") on the property. About 1915, the Budlong family purchased the property.
During World War II, Brenton Point was also considered a strategic defense area, as it overlooks the entrance to the East Passage, which allows access to Newport and to Conanicut Island. The home was seized during the Second World War in order to erect the coastal defense battery. At war's end, the battery was dismantled and the property returned to the Budlongs, who decided to donate the land to the State of Rhode Island for a public park.
The manor house was partially destroyed by fire in 1960, and torn down in 1963. Today, the former laundry/servants' quarters building serves as the park's visitor center, with restrooms and the park ranger's office located inside. Until the mid-1990s, the Rhode Island State Park Police maintained an office in the building. The former carriage house and stables of the mansion still stand on the property, though they have been fenced off and are routinely patrolled by park rangers. A stone tower is used by park rangers for observation and for tourists to get a view of the forest and ocean. Until 2007, there was a Japanese rock garden in the park. Brenton Point State Park's boundaries include part of the nearby Newport Country Club.
The park is popular for picnics, with tables provided throughout, and paths down to the shore. The park annually hosts the Brenton Point Kite Festival which draws kite enthusiasts from around the country. Weekends during the warm months also attract large numbers of kite-fliers.
The park is managed by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, Division of Parks and Recreation, and is overseen by the staff at nearby Fort Adams State Park. Though the park is open for parking for fishermen after dusk, state park rangers are known to strictly enforce park regulations even after hours, in response to several large parties that have taken place on the property in years past.
- "Ocean Drive State Park". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. 2001-05-03. Retrieved 2012-12-07.
- Brenton, Elizabeth C. (1877). History of Brenton's Neck from 1638. Newport, RI: John P. Sanborn, Printer, Mercury Office.
- Winthrop, Christian (April 2, 2013). "The Bells Brenton Point State Park, Newport, RI". The Newport Buzz. Buzz Media LLC.
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