29 Old Beach Road, Newport, Rhode Island

Completed in 1886, for "The Commodore" William Edgar (1810-1887) and his wife, Eliza Lucille Rhinelander (1832-1916). Standing at the corner of Sunnyside Place, it was designed by McKim, Mead & White and took two years to build at a cost of $42,870 (roughly $1.3 million in today's money). It incorporates an unusual mix of Shingle, Georgian, Regency and Southern-Colonial styles, with the steep roofs typical of Colonial Williamsburg, and distinctive arched chimneys and extended wings modelled on those at General Robert E. Lee's ancestral home, Stratford Hall in Virginia....

This house is best associated with...

William Edgar

William Edgar III, "The Commodore" of the New York Yacht Club


Eliza (Rhinelander) Edgar

Mrs Eliza Lucille (Rhinelander) Edgar


Lucille Rhinelander Edgar

Lucille Rhinelander Edgar, died unmarried


Mary Newbold (Edgar) Gallwey

Mrs Mary Newbold (Edgar) Gallwey


Henry Sturtevant Howard

Henry S. Howard, of Newport, Rhode Island


Nancy Riker Macomber

Mrs Nancy R. (Macomber) Wood, Read, Howard


William Edgar, second Commodore of the New York Yacht Club, was directly related to several of the city's most distinguished mercantile families. He was named for his grandfather, William Edgar, who emigrated from Ireland and laid the foundation of his wealth through the fur trade. It was that fortune that allowed the Commodore's uncle, Gardiner Greene Howland, to establish the shipping firm of Howland & Aspinwall. On his mother's side, the Commodore was a grandson of Herman LeRoy, a partner in LeRoy, Bayard & Co., which was the largest commercial house in New York City of its era, and his wife's family were no less distinguished: Mrs Edgar was an aunt of Edith Wharton and a grand-daughter of William Rhinelander, co-founder of the Rhinelander Sugar Refinery.

Mixed Styles, Mixed Opinions

The Edgars had summered at Newport for several seasons before purchasing their own cottage off the Old Beach Road in the 1870s. Stanford White drew up the plans for the house that replaced the original cottage in 1884 and construction started the following year. The 9,182-square foot house is 117-feet long with a depth of 64-feet and is constructed with buff-colored brick and sandstone trimmings. The wing closest to the lane was originally the servant's wing and had its own entrance. Although the house is now regarded as a "Newport Gem," its mix of styles garnered a similar mix of opinions from the architectural critics of the day. Some found it cold, but Mariana Griswold van Rensselaer - who was scathing of the Queen-Anne and Shingle styles individually - described it as "the most successful" of the houses that sought to recreate a colonial look.

Lucille Rhinelander Edgar

Back then it was referred to as "Edgar House" and it was the year-round home of Mrs Edgar when she died here in February, 1916. After 1916, Edgar House was retained by their eldest daughter, Miss Lucille R. Edgar, who never married and lived here alone most of the year except during the summer when she was joined by relatives, most notably her sister, Mrs Gallwey. In September, 1928, thieves broke into the house and stole a $1,000 brooch, $90 in cash and a gold watch. It was suspected that the thieves were the same who in the same period burgled Sidney J. Colford at Clarendon Court and John C. O'Donnell.

The Howards

Lucille outlived all her siblings and died in 1948. Her heirs sold the house and by the following year (1949) it had been purchased by Henry Sturtevant Howard and his second - newly wedded - wife Nancy Riker Macomber, widow of Warren Kempton Read. It was during their tenure that the house became known as "Sunnyside Place" or "Sunnyside" and the street number changed from No. 25 to No. 29 Old Beach Road. By 1974, the Boston Social Register not only gave Sunnyside as the permanent address of the same Henry and Nancy Howard, but also: their son Henry Jr. and his wife Karen Adams; their daughter, Mary-Louise; and Nancy's son by her second husband, Nathaniel P. Read.

Sunnyside Today

Its history from the late 1970s up until 2018 is not immediately obvious and if you can add anything, please do leave a comment. What is clear is that Sunnyside and its remaining acre was placed on the market and sold in 2018 for $3.5 million to Peter and Sue Metzger. Having by then been split into two residences, they converted it back into one and for their restoration work they were the recipients of the Doris Duke Preservation Award. Through this, one of William Edgar's great-grand-daughters paid a visit, delighting the Metzgers with her memories growing up here. It remains the Metzger's home.

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Contributed by Mark Meredith on 27/04/2021 and last updated on 14/08/2021.


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Peter Metzger owns Sunnyside