"I'm going to build where no one can bother me."
Sitting on a rock 20 feet above sea level is a mansion over a century old. Those who sail by Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island wouldn’t miss this 10,000 sq. foot house. It even looks hauntingly beautiful in wintertime as it stands out in the icy gray seascape.
J. S. Lovering Wharton, a man from Philadelphia, built this mansion in 1905. He used to own a summer house in Fort Wetherill area in south Jamestown. However, when the government seized his property by the end of 1800s as a means to enlarge the fort, he decided to build a house where no one can bother him.
According to the New York Times, the neighbors were skeptical that an article in the society section of The Philadelphia Press published in August 1904 read:
“Everyone is of the opinion here that Mr. Wharton will not stay in the house more than one season, and they say one nor’easter will settle it.”
The hurricane wrecked havoc on the properties of Rhode Island. Fortunately, Clingstone suffered very little damage.
Mr. Wharton’s widow died in 1941. Clingstone then stood empty for two decades until Henry Wood, a retired Boston architect purchased it for $3,600. Mr. Wood is apparently a distant cousin, that’s why Mr. Wharton’s sons sold him the property.
He and his ex-wife, Joan bought Clingstone in 1961, but it was a disaster. All of its 65 picture windows were smashed and the roof was broken. Vandals likewise blasted marbles on the interior shingles of the second floor.
With the help of friends—over a decade or so later—Mr. Wood restored the house, which didn’t have electricity, running water, windows, roof, and floors.
Bartering also worked well for Mr. Wood. For instance, he’d get services for the house or the family’s boats in exchange for a week-long stay in Clingstone in summer.
Annually around Memorial Day, Mr. Wood and at least 70 friends and Clingstone lovers gather for the ‘Clingstone work weekend.’ Together, they clean and do maintenance works on the house.
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