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The Towers, Narragansett Pier Casino

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1883–1886, McKim, Mead and White. 36 Ocean Rd.

McKim, Mead and White's original casino in Rhode Island ( NE141) was a center for Newport life; Narragansett Pier had to follow suit. Of the elaborate complex, only The Towers, which have become the Chateauesque emblem of the community, remain. Stubby flanking turrets with conical caps, they support a stone arch over the road which contains a loggia, topped by a steep gable. The single row of dormers now existing was once doubled, and a tower cupola rose from the center of the ridge post, so that the effect was far more picturesque. What remains is merely the most incombustible piece of what was once a mostly long, thin, shingled building. A square tower with a mansard cap was attached to the ocean end of The Towers. A long tail, paralleling Ocean Road, was attached to the opposite end. This was folded once at right angles along the street, and folded again at an oblique to adjust to the jog. At the first fold were private dining rooms, then a long billiard room fronted by a deep porch overlooking the carriage traffic on Ocean Road, with a garden café below along the sidewalk. Next in line, the circular Palm Room and a hexagonal room made the hinge for the second fold, accommodating lounging, receptions, or balls according to the occasion. Then, finally, along the oblique of the jog, was a playhouse. After the 1905 fire the casino moved to improvised quarters. But it was never the same. Eventually the Dunes Club filled the void—but with a generational change in the kind of recreation which such a facility was supposed to provide. Ironically, the destruction of the original Dunes Club left the same emblematic relic of past glamour.

Writing Credits

William H. Jordy et al.


What's Nearby


William H. Jordy et al., "The Towers, Narragansett Pier Casino", [Narragansett, Rhode Island], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Rhode Island, William H. Jordy, with Ronald J. Onorato and William McKenzie Woodward. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, 371-371.

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