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Ocean House in Rhode Island

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Ocean House in a Nutshell
Ocean House in Rhode Island

Rebuilt from the ground up as a modern version of the original 1868 structure, the new Ocean House reopened in 2010.

© Susan Breslow Sardone.
In vacations as well as real estate, the three key qualities are location, location, and location. Ocean House, perched high on a bluff halfway between New York City and Boston, with views that span both the Atlantic Ocean and the Long Island Sound, has it in spades.

This grande dame of a hotel originally opened in 1868 and hosted summer guests for generations (in the years before air conditioning, its windswept beachfront setting was a godsend).

Forces both natural and manmade led to the demise of the original hotel: The New England hurricane of 1938 landed a direct and devastating hit on Watch Hill, causing severe damage to the hotel. Some floors were repaired, others sealed off. Years later a deadly nightclub fire elsewhere in the state motivated legislators to pass stringent new fire safety regulations, which the old hotel could not meet.

The old Ocean House hotel closed in 2003 and was knocked down. The new Ocean House, completely rebuilt on the same land, began its second life in 2010. Many salvageable pieces from the old hotel were harvested -- flooring, stairway rails, artifacts -- and then put back into the new construction. Other elements are exact replications of the originals. The brand-new exterior façade, carefully reconstructed, has been mistaken for the original by previous guests.

Newcomers will find Ocean House so clean, bright, and welcoming that they may start a family tradition of their own: to visit here time and again.

In 2012, Ocean House became a member of Relais & Chateaux, a group of some 500 inns and restaurants that consistently deliver a gourmet experience.

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