The Rocks

Ocean Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island

Built in 1864, for the 'scary' Edward Darley Boit (1840-1915) and his first wife, Mary Louisa Cushing (1846-1898), an heiress whose father made a fortune predominantly through trading opium. Situated overlooking Newport's famed Spouting Rock on Bailey's Beach and about half mile in front of the flamboyant Mamie Fish' Crossways, the Boit's house was next door to that of Mrs Boit's brother's, "The Ledges". Both these houses were designed by Boit's cousin, John Sturgis, an architect and art critic from their native Boston. Boit became a well-known Impressionist artist but it is his daughters who are perhaps best remembered today as the subjects of a famous painting by John Singer Sargent, displayed at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston....

This house is best associated with...

Edward Darley Boit

"Ned" Boit, Landscape Artist, of Boston & Paris

1840-1915

Mary (Cushing) Boit

Mrs "Isa" Mary Louisa (Cushing) Boit

1846-1894

Robert Brown Potter

Major-General Robert B. Potter, of the Union Army

1829-1887

Abigail Austin Stevens

Mrs "Abby" (Stevens) Potter

1836-1913

Henry Clews

Henry Clews Sr., Stockbroker, of Henry Clews & Co., New York

1834-1923

Lucy Madison Worthington

Mrs Lucy Madison (Worthington) Clews, of New York City

1851-1945

The Boits lived at Newport from 1864 until 1871 when 'Ned' moved the family to Europe to better his career. That year, they sold their almost new timber and granite summer home to the distinguished U.S. Civil War veteran General Robert B. Potter (1829-1887) who retired here with his wife, Abigail Austin Stevens. After he died in 1887, his widow sold up to Henry Clews, a wealthy stockbroker from New York City who significantly expanded the house as seen in the photograph above.

In about 1913, Clews' eccentric son, the artist and sculptor Henry Clews Jr., (better associated with the extraordinary Chateau de la Napoule) converted the hayloft into a studio and over the summer there seduced Mrs Elsie (Whelen) Goulet - the chatelaine of Ochre Court - to whom he was married in 1914. His adored mother, Mrs Clews, outlived her husband by two decades and after her death in 1945 the house was demolished and the land was re-incorporated back into the Cushing estate.

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Contributed by Mark Meredith on 28/10/2020 and last updated on 11/07/2022.

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