On the Market: An Antique Castle in Newport
Calling all local royalty looking for a new pad.
97 Ruggles Ave., Newport, RI
Size: 7,879 square feet
You won’t find battlements or shiny suits of armor on the premises, but this nearly 8,000-square-foot Newport mansion—named Hilltop—is fit for royalty. Noted 19th-century architect Richard Morris Hunt designed the residence back in 1870, and many of the original elements have stood the test of time. The oak and chestnut floors, for example, have persisted, as has all of the woodwork, which was gracefully carved into cattails, rosettes, and basket-woven balustrades. All that aged wood only adds to the grandeur. The two-story library is soaked in sunlight and enveloped in built-in bookshelves—good luck ever closing your book.
Through the living room into a dining room furnished with parquet flooring, the blue-and-white tiled Moroccan oven is another antique jewel. The piece is adorned with a bronze relief made by the architect’s brother, and though the oven is technically still functional, these days it’s mostly used as an exquisite decoration. (Hot tip: The current owners have employed it as a digestif bar.) Not every piece of the home is an 1800s relic, though. The light fixture above the dining table, made of solid brass embedded with imitation gems, was purchased in more recent years from an auction to cast light horizontally through the room. Another personalization of the current owners was an inscription above the window seat in one sitting room that reads “follow, follow, follow the Gleam.” Listing agent Jose Aguon explains that the line was “taken from a hymn about medieval knights keeping watch over the king,” though, he explains, “the significance for the owners is they owned the 12-meter yacht Gleam.”
Perhaps the biggest change to the home was outside. Hunt originally fashioned the dwelling in stick style, but upon admiring the brownstone homes in Newport, the then-owner of Hilltop decided to have architect William Emerson encase the entire facade in stone. And of course, what’s a castle without its grounds? The estate’s three acres planted with forty varieties of specimen trees don’t fall short—in fact, they’ve even caught the eye of Rhode Island governor Gina Raimondo and received recognition from the Newport Arboretum.
For information, contact Jose Aguon, Gustave White Sotheby’s Realty, gustavewhite.com.
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