Brenton Point State Park

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Brenton Point State Park
Rhode Island State Park
Brenton Point (2012)
Country  United States
State  Rhode Island
County Newport
Town Newport
Elevation 26 ft (8 m) [1]
Coordinates 41°27′10″N 71°21′16″W / 41.45278°N 71.35444°W / 41.45278; -71.35444Coordinates: 41°27′10″N 71°21′16″W / 41.45278°N 71.35444°W / 41.45278; -71.35444 [1]
Established 1976 [2]
Management Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Division of Parks & Recreation
Location in Rhode Island
Website: Brenton Point State Park

Brenton Point State Park is a Rhode Island state park located on Aquidneck Island in the town of Newport. The park's location off Ocean Drive offers majestic vistas of the Atlantic Ocean as it meets Narragansett Bay.[3]


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.[4] 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.[5] About 1915, the Budlong family purchased the property.[2]

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 a coastal defense battery. At war's end, the battery was dismantled and the property returned to the Budlongs, who donated the land to the state for a public park. One of the original four circular concrete "Panama mounts", built for towed 155 mm guns, remains in place.

Former stables (1968)

The manor house was partially destroyed by fire in 1960, and torn down in 1963. The former laundry/servants' quarters building serves as the park's visitor center and rangers office. The mansion's carriage house and stables still stand, though they have been fenced off and are routinely patrolled by park rangers. A stone observation tower is used by park rangers and tourists to view the forest and ocean. Until 2007, there was a Japanese rock garden in the park. The park shares a boundary with the Newport Country Club.

Activities and amenities[edit]

The park offers picnicking facilities, hiking paths, fishing, and kite flying,[3] and hosts the annual Newport Kite Festival.[6]

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.


  1. ^ a b "Ocean Drive State Park". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. 
  2. ^ a b "Brenton Point State Park History". State of Rhode Island Division of Parks & Recreation. Retrieved August 21, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "Brenton Point State Park". State of Rhode Island Division of Parks & Recreation. Retrieved August 21, 2014. 
  4. ^ Brenton, Elizabeth C. (1877). History of Brenton's Neck from 1638. Newport, RI: John P. Sanborn, Printer, Mercury Office. 
  5. ^ Winthrop, Christian (April 2, 2013). "The Bells Brenton Point State Park, Newport, RI". The Newport Buzz. Buzz Media LLC. 
  6. ^ "Newport Kite Festival". Newport Kite Festival. Retrieved August 21, 2014. 
A 19th-century stereoview of Brenton Point showing Winan's Fishing Bridge (defunct)

External links[edit]