Kinney Bungalow -- 09/13/04


I mentioned recently about how Nancy and I from time to time worked as attendants for the Town of Narragansett at two historical structures that it rented out for parties, weddings, dinners, etc. -- and I promised that I would take pictures of these two fascinating buildings. So this past Friday night there was a wedding at one of these places -- Kinney Bungalow at Sunset Farms -- and I brought my camera. (No, I didn't take pictures of the wedding, that would be invading their privacy.)

The above picture shows Kinney Bungalow -- Back in the 1890's, the national polo championships were held in the Narragansett area. Not all of the millionaires who came to Rhode Island built "summer cottages" in Newport. Many of them -- having experienced summer at the shore in the luxury hotels of Narragansett Pier -- built homes along what became Ocean Drive. One of these millionaires was a tobacco magnate from New York City, Francis S. Kinney (who, indeed, built a sumptuous mansion on Ocean Drive). Apparently Mr. Kinney had a disagreement with with the Point Judith Country Club. (I've heard various versions of this, all of them mere speculation from a century's distance.) At any rate, in 1899 Mr. Kinney commissioned the construction of a party house -- a "bungalow" built in a British Colonial East Indian style -- where he would hold parties after the polo matches, rather than at the country club. (The building was on the grounds of his Sunset Farm, where he stabled his horses.)

In 1935 the property was inherited by Mrs. Thomas (Lucia Chase) Ewing (daughter of the woman who had purchased the property upon Mr. Kinney's death in 1908). Mrs. Thomas -- of both Waterbury, CT, and Narragansett (where she owned Miramar, an estate on Ocean Drive) -- was a co-founder of the American Ballet. The ballet troupe practiced here at the bungalow during the summer (until Mrs. Ewing's death in 1986).

(Sunset Farm is still a working farm -- there are fields of corn as well as tomatoes and lots of other vegetables, all of which are for sale at the farm stand. In fact, we hear over and over again from people something along the following line: "For years I wondered what this strange looking building was, all shuttered-up, sitting on a farm, but there was just a sign by the driveway saying 'Sweet corn' or 'Fresh tomatoes' and it just remained a mystery.")

The Town of Narragansett purchased the property in 1991 and eventually was able to begin the restoration process. The town owns the property but it is managed by the Narragansett Land Conservancy Trust. The bulk of the restoration work was completed in 2002, although more has been done since then and continuing restoration is an on-going project. For example, the bronze bars (barres?) used by the American Ballet are still in a storage room and they are considering reinstalling at least one of them. The windows are the originals, including original glass. The brass candle holders on the wall were polished back to their original beauty, but they have been wired for electricity and, instead of candles, now hold candle flame shaped light bulbs (on dimmer switches, so they can be set for the desired ambiance).

The proceedes from renting the facilities helps to support the maintenance and on-going restoration of these buildings -- and keeps them as living buildings, part of the life of the community.

(The building was still empty at sunset on Friday when I took these pictures because the wedding was held in a church and they came here after that. Some couples also have their ceremony here -- either inside or on a lawn behind the bungalow.)
Disk jockey setting up his equipment
Sunset through the windows
Looking west along the back of the bungalow
The upstairs fireplace -- candles in the logs
Nancy in the entrance lobby
Tables set and waiting for the party...

On Sunday I went up to Providence with my brother-in-law Tom and his son Mike to run in the CVS Downtown 5k race. The winner completed the race [5k = about three and one tenth miles] in 13:37. That's a pace of 4:23 per mile. *sigh* And not only that, there wasn't anyone as slow as five minutes per mile until 48th place! *sigh* Okay, but the three of us finished the race and had a good time. Tom was the fastest... I was quite a bit behind Tom (I was 35th of 58 in my age group)... and Mike was quite a bit behind me (but this was the first time Mike has run since a four mile race we were all in five or six weeks ago -- he's done a lot of roller-blading, but no running).

This has become quite a big event... there had been three or four hours of races for kids -- probably six thousand or so people running or walking in one event or another. The 5k had around twenty-five hundred finishers.

Jill had signed up online when I had, but she was not feeling well (she has had a very bad sore throat that had her on antibiotics -- and then last Thursday night Nancy called Jill's doctor because she was in a lot of pain, couldn't talk, didn't even want to drink anything, her throat hurt so much... doctor said to take her into the emergency room... where they proceeded to stick an IV in her arm and pump fluids plus a really potent antibiotic, etc. That seemed to be what was needed and she is now feeling much better -- even went to classes today -- but naturally she was not up to running a 5k on Sunday.

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