The long agricultural decline in western and central Rhode Island and the concentration of communities along the coast left much wooded land, for which there was little market during the first half of the twentieth century. The well-to-do built summer hideaways, often on Rhode Island's numerous ponds. The very wealthy could accumulate vast tracts, as did Marion Eppley, the founder of Eppley Laboratories in Newport. He eventually owned 1,300 acres of woodland, most of it in Exeter, but with his living compound in the northwest corner of South Kingstown on the Queens River. In contrast to the luxurious rusticity of Alton Jones's hunting and fishing lodge in West Greenwich (see entry), Eppley kept his buildings simple. The focus of the camp is a long, narrow house, partly one-and-one-half stories, mostly one story (which may indicate two building periods) in whitewashed clapboard and shingle. A long porch supported on tree trunks, reminiscent of a southern cabin, unifies the whole. The principal room is paneled in chestnut and pine with a stone fireplace. Nearby, clustered randomly in the pine woods, are a separate cook house, guest house, corncrib, garage, and boathouse. These vary in use of rustic building techniques, the most interesting perhaps being the log cookhouse with mud (or stucco) chinking and a clapboard guest cabin, also long and narrow, one end of which is a huge stone fireplace with a curved outer face. Shelter seems to attach itself to the hearth in a manner recalling the Rhode Island colonial stone-ender, except that here the fireplace appears more sculpturally self-contained, hence particularly potent as the symbol of what it is. On Eppley's death in 1960, he left a somewhat reduced estate (863 acres), including the cabin compound, to the Audubon Society as a wildlife preserve.
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