House Lust: A Moody Newport Lodge is on the Market

It was the childhood home of beloved City by the Sea artist, Richard Grosvenor.

It’s no wonder Richard Grosvenor dedicated his life to art and architecture. The late Newport luminary — who led the art department at St. George’s School, authored a book on architecture, co-founded Spring Bull Gallery and served as a vice president of the Newport Art Museum, among myriad other achievements — was raised at Hilltop, an 1870 estate on Ruggles Avenue overlooking Almy Pond and, beyond it, the great wide Atlantic.

Hilltop is an amalgam of sorts; it was designed by lauded architect Richard Morris Hunt amid, Grosvenor writes in his book Newport: An Artist’s Impressions of its Architecture and History, “a search for an American architecture that no one had yet devised.

“European models were fine points of departure,” Grosvenor continues in his book, which he both wrote and illustrated. “But Hunt’s innovative treatment of interiors, and his fanciful, almost storybook exteriors, reflect a permanence which was important. They lent a respectability to these new houses and placed them squarely on the landscape of nineteenth-century America, where appearances were everything.”

In 1895, however, Grosvenor’s great grandparents were enchanted by the Gilded Age materials that adorned their neighbors’ estates — namely stone exteriors in the Queen Anne style (“medieval in spirit,” Grosvenor writes). His ancestors, Theodore and Rosa Phinney, commissioned architect William Ralph Emerson to flank their summer cottage in rugged stone, too.

The result, while a departure from the Stick-style architecture about town, seems to amplify the that “fanciful, almost storybook” quality Grosvenor writes about in his book. It’s as if an Irish castle up and decided to emigrate to the familiarly craggy Newport coast, taking with it the moodiness but leaving behind the cobwebs and chill.

In 1997, the home was sold out of the family to a couple with a passion for restoring yachts, and they brought the incredible interior woodwork back to life. Now, the estate is on the market again for the next architecture-obsessed family to call home.

Here’s your House Lust:

For more information on Hilltop, 97-105 Ruggles Ave. in Newport, contact Gustave White Sotheby’s Jose Aguon at 401.263.4168 or visit

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