Close to the hustle and bustle of America’s Cup Avenue, just off the Claiborne Pell Bridge, is a small neighborhood tucked away from view, known mostly by its residents and other Newport locals. Formally called Easton’s Point after one of the founders of Newport, Nicholas Easton, it is most commonly referred to as simply The Point.
Located alongside Narragansett Bay with a prime view of the Bridge and Goat Island, The Point is divided into a tidy, compact grid of streets. After Easton’s death, his heirs subdivided the land into parcels which were then sold to merchants, artisans, and tradesmen, many of whom were Quakers.
Quaker tradition did not allow for naming streets after people, so the main streets on The Point were named First, Second, and Third, and most of the cross streets were named after trees, such as Elm, Pine, and Willow. First Street, which runs parallel to the Bay and has the more sizable homes, has since been renamed to Washington Street. Many of the cross streets allow direct access to the Bay, allowing homeowners in The Point to launch small boats, kayaks, and more directly into the water.
Both permanent and summer residents of The Point are a tight knit group, the majority joining The Point Association of Newport which publishes a quarterly newsletter, The Green Light, named for the Newport Harbor Lighthouse on Goat Island. It has been continuously published since 1957, a time when The Point had become a somewhat neglected neighborhood. In present day, The Point has become one of Newport’s most desirable residential neighborhoods, commanding significant real estate prices despite the smaller size of most Point homes.
Neighborhood events include an annual New Year’s Party, an August cocktail party, a Plant sale, and more. New residents are welcomed to the Newcomer’s Group which is open to permanent and seasonal residents alike, and all are encouraged to help out with a Fall and Spring clean-up. All are also invited to attend the annual Christmas tree lighting in Storer Park which happens in early December and remains lit for all to enjoy.
What makes The Point so special, aside from its waterfront location, is that it contains one of the largest concentrations of colonial houses in the nation. Thanks to the Newport Restoration Foundation, an organization started by Doris Duke, more than two dozen houses in The Point have been completely restored and are currently rented to tenants who are stewards of the homes as long as they are in residence.
Anyone can visit The Point and wander its narrow streets to enjoy the architecture, gardens, and decorations for every season. It is especially festive at Christmas and for the Fourth of July, with all homeowners being encouraged to display the red, white, and blue proudly. A must visit is Hunter House, a stunning Georgian Colonial house museum owned by the Preservation Society of Newport County, which includes an incredible collection of furniture by Townsend-Goddard, premier cabinetmakers who once lived in the neighborhood.
A stay at the elegant Second Empire Victorian Sarah Kendall House in The Point offers a real sense of living in the neighborhood. Wake up to a beautiful sunrise on the Bay, and watch the sunset with a cocktail from the front porch or from Battery Park, a neighborhood park that overlooks the Claiborne Pell Bridge.
Despite its small area, The Point is chock full of landmark houses and other buildings, such as Saint John the Evangelist Church. The Church is an active community member as well, and all are welcomed to its candlelight Christmas Eve Services at 5 and 9 pm. Another favorite is the Third & Elm Press, longtime home and shop of artist Ilse Buchert Nesbitt. Nesbitt is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, and along with her late husband founded the Press in 1965.
Stop by The Point on your next visit to Newport, and enjoy all that it has to offer! You will be charmed by it as so many have been before.
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