| House on the Rock
Clingstone, is an unusual, 103-year-old mansion in Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay, which survives through the love and hard work of family and friends.
Henry Wood, the owner, runs the house
like a camp: All skilled workers welcome!
The Jamestown Boatyard hauls the family’s
boats and floating dock and stores them
each winter in return for a week’s use of the
house in the summer.
Mr. Wood, a 79-year-old Boston architect,
bought the house with his ex-wife Joan
in 1961 for $3,600. It had been empty for
Clingstone had been built by a distant cousin,
J.S. Lovering Wharton.
Mr. Wharton worked with an artist,
William Trost Richards, to create a house
of picture windows with 23 rooms on three
stories radiating off a vast central hall.
The total cost of the construction, which was completed in 1905,
An early sketch of the house…
Mr. Wood is as proud as any parent of
his house, and keeps a fat scrapbook
of photographs and newspaper clippings
that document its best moments.
Many of the historic photos he has were
provided by the company that insured
the house for its original owners.
The Newport Bridge is visible from the
windows of the Ping-Pong room,
to the left of the fireplace.
The house is maintained by an ingenious method:
The Clingstone “work weekend.”
Held every year around Memorial Day,
it brings 70 or so friends and Clingstone
lovers together to tackle jobs like washing
all 65 of the windows.
Anne Tait, who is married to Mr. Wood’s son
Dan, refinished the kitchen floor on one
of her first “work weekends.”
There are 10 bedrooms at Clingstone,
all with indecently beautiful views.
The dining room table seats 14.
Refinishing the chairs is a task on
the list for a future “work weekend.”
Sign by the ladder that leads to the roof reads: No entry after three drinks or 86 years of age. “It used to say 80 but we had a guy on a ‘work weekend’ who was 84, so I changed it,” said Mr. Wood, ever the realist. “It would have been a shame to curtail the activities of a willing volunteer.”
No lawn to mow, no neighbors, no solicitors, no busy streets, no traffic!!! My kind of get-away!!!