Brenton Point State Park

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Brenton Point State Park
Brenton Point State Park building, Newport Rhode Island.jpg
Park building (2017)
Map showing the location of Brenton Point State Park
Map showing the location of Brenton Point State Park
Location in Rhode Island
LocationNewport, Newport, Rhode Island, United States
Coordinates41°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]
Area88.9 acres (36.0 ha)[2]
Elevation26 ft (7.9 m)[1]
Established1976[3]
Governing bodyRhode Island Department of Environmental Management Division of Parks & Recreation
WebsiteBrenton Point State Park

Brenton Point State Park is a public recreation area occupying 89 acres (36 ha) at the southwestern tip of Aquidneck Island in the town of Newport, Rhode Island. The state park offers wide vistas of the Atlantic Ocean where it meets Narragansett Bay.[4] The park lies adjacent to the Newport Country Club, part of Newport's Ocean Drive Historic District. It 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.

History[edit]

Brenton Point bears the name of Governor William Brenton, an early settler who owned the land as a large farm in the 17th century. Brenton called the area "Hammersmith,"[5] a name which 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.[3]

Between 1876 and 1883, lawyer and businessman Theodore M. Davis built a mansion known as "The Reefs" (later "The Bells")[6] on the property, where he lived until his death in 1915.[2] Following the death in 1922 of Emma Andrews, Davis's longtime mistress, the estate became the property of auto magnate Milton J. Budlong.[7]

During World War II, the Budlong home was condemned and purchased by the government in order to erect a coastal defense battery as part of the Harbor Defenses of Narragansett Bay. One of the original four circular concrete "Panama mounts," built for towed 155 mm guns, remains in place.[8] Radar and searchlights were also in the area.[9] An anti-motor torpedo boat battery, AMTB 923, was at Brenton Point from July 1943 until moved to Fort Wetherill in July 1944. This battery had four 90 mm guns and two 37 mm guns.[10][11] At war's end, the battery was dismantled and the estate returned to the Budlongs, who allowed the property to fall into disrepair.

The heavily vandalized manor house was partially destroyed by fire in 1960, then torn down in 1963. The state took possession in 1969 as part of Governor John Chafee's Green Acres program; it was then dedicated as a state park in 1974. The park opened to the public in 1976.[2]

The former laundry/servants' quarters building serves as the park's visitor center and rangers office. The mansion's now-derelict carriage house and stables still stand,[12] 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.

Activities and amenities[edit]

The park offers picnicking facilities, hiking paths, fishing, and kite flying,[4] and hosts the annual Newport Kite Festival.[13]

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.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Ocean Drive State Park". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
  2. ^ a b c "Brenton Point State Park". State of Rhode Island Division of Parks & Recreation. Archived from the original on February 4, 2010. Retrieved January 5, 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Brenton Point State Park History". State of Rhode Island Division of Parks & Recreation. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Brenton Point State Park". State of Rhode Island Division of Parks & Recreation. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
  5. ^ Brenton, Elizabeth C. (1877). History of Brenton's Neck from 1638. Newport, RI: John P. Sanborn, Printer, Mercury Office. p. 10. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
  6. ^ Winthrop, Christian (April 2, 2013). "The Bells Brenton Point State Park, Newport, RI". The Newport Buzz. Buzz Media LLC.
  7. ^ Adams, John M. (2013). The Millionaire and the Mummies. St. Martin's Press. p. 317. ISBN 978-1-250-02669-9.
  8. ^ Harbor Defenses of Narragansett Bay at the Coast Defense Study Group
  9. ^ Schroder, Walter K. (1980). Defenses of Narragansett Bay in World War II. East Greenwich, RI: Rhode Island Publications Society. pp. 64–65. ISBN 0-917012-22-4.
  10. ^ Battery AMTB 923 (1) at FortWiki.com
  11. ^ Battery AMTB 923 (2) at FortWiki.com
  12. ^ "Lost Newport: 1876 - 1885". The Preservation Society of Newport County. Retrieved January 5, 2018.
  13. ^ "Newport Kite Festival". Newport Kite Festival. Retrieved August 21, 2014.

External links[edit]