House Lust: Inside the $5 Million Mansion Owned by Roger Williams’s Descendants
It's the first time the property will be sold outside the family.
If little Rhode Island were a kingdom, our sovereigns would include the state’s founder, Roger Williams, and its most prominent family, the Browns. And this Bellevue Avenue mansion, on the market for $4.995 million, is as close to Rhody’s own Buckingham Palace as it gets.
The massive 13,962-square-foot home was built in 1895 by Harold Brown, son of John Carter Brown (the namesake of Brown University) and Sophia Augusta Brown, a descendant of Roger Williams. Harold and his wife, Georgette, lived there until their deaths.
In the mid-1950s, the estate was sold to Harold’s niece, Eileen Slocum, a prominent socialite who, perhaps most notably, left John Jacob Astor VI — the “Titanic Baby” whose father died on the Titanic and whose mother, who survived the sinking, was pregnant with him when the ship went down — at the altar. She later married diplomat, prominent Republican and noted bibliophile (see library photos below), John J. Slocum. Eileen also lived out her last days at the property, also known as the Harold Brown Villa.
In a story in Bloomberg, Eileen’s granddaughter, Sophie Girard, says of her grandmother and the Dudley Newton-designed manor: “When she moved in, she did virtually nothing — a minor update or two in the bathrooms, and she did redo the kitchen, which we think is tragic. It had been very dark wood, and they redid it in all white.”
Otherwise, the property — which occupies an entire block on Bellevue Avenue — is a bit of a time capsule. Girard tells Bloomberg that the interior is inspired by the Browns’ honeymoon to Paris. Designer Ogden Codman — a contemporary of Edith Wharton — used pieces the Browns purchased in France, including furniture once owned by Napoleon, as focal points in the design.
Here’s a look inside Rhode Island’s own royal manor: