Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Sometimes You Can Go Home Again – sort of

Tuesday Morning September 17, 2013
Newport Rhode Island



They put in that bridge and charge you $4.00 each way.


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I am  anxious to go over to see Newport.  It’s actually the reason we stopped here.  I used to live there when my former husband was in the Navy.  I loved living in Newport.  We left right before the bridge was built.  I didn’t want the bridge.  I liked the ferry.  It was fun and inexpensive.  But the bridge, not so much.   They charge $8 to come and go and have been charging for nearly 30 years.  You’d think they have it paid for by now.  I certainly hope residents get a discount.



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When we get across and drive into town of course I recognize nothing.  So we head to the new HUGE visitor’s center and sign up to take the informational trolley around town.  $23 each for seniors for 90 minutes.  That seems steep to me too but we have a “tourist” slush fund since we almost never do touristy things.   I forgot to get a picture of the trolley when we boarded so I get one as we leave.  Pretend we’re getting on instead of off.  :-))



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Our driver welcomes us, checks to see who has never been here before and gives us a bit of history before we take off. 

He is a life long Newport resident and it is a particular treat for me to hear him talk about how things were when he was younger and what was here and there.  I can remember some of the things he refers to.

The tour was great and my only suggestion would be to slow down long enough for folks to take some pictures of things they may not walk to during their stay.  But I imagine he is on a schedule and has to show as much in 90 minutes as he can.   And of course there are always detours from what is his usual route due to road work.



I know they say you can’t go home again.


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After the tour we head out to find my old house.  I saw the street as we went down Ocean Drive on the tour but the house is back up the hill so we drive over to Chastellux Avenue and park the car and walk up the hill.






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At first, I’m confused.  I don’t remember all these houses being here.  We were at the top of the hill and had an apartment in a grand old house suffering a bit from age over looking the Ida Lewis Yacht Club and the Narragansett Bay.  I could go out on my balcony and watch the ferry come in when I heard it blow its horn.  I just loved that.



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As I get to the hilltop, I find it, The Chalet, and boy has it been spruced up.

When I lived there, it was a big grand wonderful dame who had fallen on hard times.  Her owner had divided the house up into apartments and rented mostly to young naval officer couples.


I hope you’ll indulge me all the pictures of it I’m going to put here.  I really loved living there and hated it when we were reassigned. 


The two sides of the house.   You can pretty much figure out the various apartments.  The place has undergone a renovation and been turned into upscale condos.


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I had a harder time getting a picture of the back of the house where my apartment was.


I couldn’t get far enough away and from some angles the sun was impossible.  I did get the view from the yard and a zoomed up one that shows more what I saw from my apartment balcony on the third floor.


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  Sure am glad that sailboats and the ferry dominated my view at that time and not the bridge.


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Richard Morris Hunt – Really??


The front looks like a grand entrance now and I am shocked to see that Richard Morris Hunt was the architect for the house,  Perhaps the older woman who owned it, whose name I have sadly forgotten, told me and I have forgotten that too.  It seems like something you would talk about since he was also the architect for some of the Newport Mansions including the most famous, The Breakers.


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I also didn’t remember that the house dated from immediately post civil war.  Perhaps Hunt was in his early years as an architect since the Breakers and other mansions are from the late 1800’s during The Gilded Age.


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The door in particular was a favorite of mine with its beveled glass and stained side panels.  I once thought about getting some brass polish to bring out the door hardware but I didn't want to hurt my landlady’s feelings.


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I remember feeling what a shame it was for this gorgeous old house to be in such disrepair considering what it could be.  And I am overjoyed to find it has been so beautifully restored.  I only wish I could see the inside.   If I stand here long enough, do you think someone may come home and let me in???


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I was so nice to “go home again” and find it in better shape than when I left it.  





To celebrate my happiness at finding a place I loved so well taken care of, I think lobster is in order.


Possibly my last New England Lobster.  So we head down to the Wharf area which has been totally cleaned up since the my days when it was men’s bars and sketchy characters.  

On the way, I see this sign in a window but no dessert before lunch my mama told me.

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We do the real thing on the wharf and get the lobster right off the boat.

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They are bringing them in as we enter.


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The restaurant part is further out back right on the water.  Luckily it is post season and getting a table isn’t a problem.  You could wait hours in July or August.


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I’m afraid after taking so much time at The Chalet that we will not have enough time for The Elms so I don’t have a full blown lobster which needs an open ended amount of time to eat.  I get a lobster roll - hot and with butter.   I also get a bowl of lobster bisque.  It’s all extremely delicious.


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David has perhaps had enough seafood or maybe he just wants to get his red meat fix since it happens so seldom for him these days.   In any case he wishes to report that this was THE best burger he ever had. 


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So we give 4 thumbs up to Aquidneck Lobster Company of Newport Rhode Island and its Lobster Bar.


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We took the first trolley tour at 10:00 this morning and it is now 2:45 so it’s past time to get over to the mansions.  


They are pretty spectacular and take a long time to see.  That I remember clearly.   Most folks start with The Breakers but having been here before, I know not to do that.  So we start with one of my other two favorites, The Elms, and it turns out to be just right.

On the way I get some pictures of the wharf area in its new glamour and of some of the streets of the town. 


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Newport has not only restored its mansions.


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Newport is an old town founded in 1639 and there are restored homes from that era as well as the 18th Century.   Most of the restored older homes are thanks to Doris Duke who was a life long preservationist and devoted much of her fortune to restoring colonial buildings in this city where she spent her summers.  She founded the Newport Restoration Foundation with the purpose of rescuing Newport’s early architectural heritage which she did almost single handedly.  When she died in 1993, she left her home, furnished in tact as she lived in it, to the foundation to open for tours.  It’s so true that one person can make a real difference and her foresight certainly did.


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I find it very interesting that many of the homes built in the 1700’s do not face the street but rather face the water or more precisely they face the back of the house in front of them in the direction of the water.  The street runs up the side.






Apparently in Newport all sorts of by-gone things aren’t gone at all.



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As we walk, on one

porch I see a milk box.  When was the last time you saw one of those?  Does the dairy really still deliver or is it just an antique?  Curiosity got me, I look it up when I’m doing this post and sure enough the Munroe Dairy has been delivering milk since 1881 and they still do.  In fact they have an opening for anyone who might like to be a milkman.  Starting salary $35 to $40K a year.  

The dairy philosophy is “Some things are better left unchanged”.    They explain that “our milk comes fresh from the cow to your door in no more than 48 hours and contains no artificial hormones or antibiotics”.   No wonder I really love Newport.  Does anyone else live in an area where milk is still delivered to your door??



In spite of my dawdling, we do finally make it to the Elms although it is 3:30 by the time we do. 

They close at 5:00 and you must be off the grounds by 6:00.   But this post is already too long so I’ll save the Elms for tomorrow. 


  1. So happy you got to go home, and home is such a beautiful place!

  2. I was in need of a burger also last Fall when we did the East Coast. I can only do sea creatures for so long. Very nice pic's of a beautiful historic seaside town, thanks.

  3. We spent a weekend in Newport years ago, staying at one of the historical captains homes turned b&b. nice walking town and I was so blown away by the mansions we toured. Thanks for reminding me of such a nice weekend!

  4. Would love to be able to get milk that fresh!

  5. I had no idea you used to live in RI. The Chalet is beautiful. Too bad someone didn't come home to give you an inside tour. That would've been cool, huh?

    Boy, that milk box brings back memories. We both had a milkman when we were growing up. Those days are long gone in our hometown.

    Looking forward to the rest of your tour.

  6. Wonderful tour!! So glad you got to return and find things for the better;o)) It looked like a spectacular day to be visiting Newport!!!

  7. So neat to see where you lived in Newport. How lovely! Glad they spruced it up again sometime in the last 30 plus years (or maybe it's forty) :) I always find it fun to reminisce. Great pictures at the lobster shack! The best burger ever, Pops? Not sure I believe it. But maybe...;) Nice day-although the prices do seem steep.

  8. We stayed in a fabulous cottage in downtown Flagstaff, AZ a few years ago that had an original opening just to the left of the front door where milk, eggs & butter could be left. Being such a curious sort (like you), I "googled" and found that there was still a home delivery service in Flagstaff. I just "googled" again before writing this comment and it seems that they are still operating. Pretty cool! You & David are literally retracing our steps from our Summer Trip a few years ago and I am loving every word you write. We rented a cottage on Point Judith for a week and covered the area extensively. Our most tiring day was probably the day we went to Newport as we did much of what you two did AND walked several miles on The Cliff Walk.

  9. Thank you for taking me to another place I have never been. With my passion for sailing and all things seafood related, I would love this town.

    How wonderful to find your old home in better shape than ever. I find it quite emotional to go back to places I once lived in what now seems like a different lifetime. I try to conjure up the sentiments of the young woman I was back then and find it amazing to think about the changes that brought me to my present life with grown children and a new husband! I love that you celebrated this trip back in time with a lobster indulgence,

  10. What a wonderful, fabulous day. . .I loved it all. . .

  11. Your former home is such a Grand looking place. I just wish someone who lived there would have come along and given you a tour.

  12. Wow, your old place looks great! I'm glad, too, that you didn't have the view of the bridge when you lived there.

    When I was a kid, the milkman was my mom, straight from the Jersey cow in the barn. She really loved that cow and we loved the milk and butter that she gave us.

  13. Isn't it fun to go back "home" once in awhile and see what changes have been made. I used to have milk delivery like that when I lived in Connecticut. I am surprised that someone still does it!

  14. How great is this, Sherry. See? you can go home again and find it wonderful... wish I hadn't missed Rhode Island ... had my wheels turned to go ... missed a turn and headed the other direction and didn't turn around to correct. dang

  15. Wow, what a mansion you lived in, even if it didn't look the same back then. I too would have preferred the ferry view to the expensive bridge. Kind of an expensive 90 min tour, but I suppose well worth it.

  16. That was a beautiful old house that you lived in and I'm glad it was restored so beautifully. Someone even polished that brass! How nice that you could come back to see it again. What a view. Newport looks like a great place to see.

    David looks pretty snazzy his his hat!

  17. Thanks Karen.

    Yes, I do think they would take you inside if you stayed long enough for someone to come home. How could they resist? I really enjoyed visiting Newport again and marveling at how some people lived back in the Gilded Age.


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