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October 28, 2009

Watch Hill's Ocean House Reborn

by Bree Shirvell

Summers on the shore, black-tie affairs, decked out ballrooms--the glorious yellow hotel known as the Ocean House that gazed over Watch Hill, Rhode Island, for almost 150 years harkened back to an earlier time.

Six years after the original Ocean House, built in 1868, was torn down the new version will open this summer seeking to recreate that elegant era with a few modern touches--year round dinning and accommodations, eco-friendly practices, farm to table dining, a spa, and an ocean view lap pool.

I grew up not far from the small seaside village of Watch Hill, and it's impossible to not think of the grand Ocean House Hotel when thinking about the village. It was the place you dreamed of attending a fancy party; the place you spent summers trying to sneak into the private beach.

Originally one of five hotels in town, the Ocean House was one of the last Victorian era hotels in mainland Rhode Island. In 2003 the hotel closed, and in 2004 when it became clear the Ocean House's historic structure couldn't be saved, it was torn down. The local community rallied together to save the site from development forming Bluff Avenue LLC with the goal of persevering both the site as a hotel and the Ocean House's 136 year history. The 2010 Ocean House hotel was built in the likeness of the old incorporating many of the original hotel features including the main fireplace, front desk, some wick furniture, and of course the yellow paint. 

The Ocean House reopens this June under managing director Daniel Hosteller. While the five star, 49-room hotel will not start taking reservations until the end of October, every weekend from June to October is already booked for weddings. The Ocean House will include 23 private residences all with ocean views, 10 of which have already been sold.

I for one cannot wait for the place to reopen, for summers at the Ocean House to resume and for a new group of kids to dream about parties and try their hand at sneaking in; although, with more than 300 feet of beachfront open to the public, it shouldn't be as hard.


Amazing! Rhode Island has a 40th City or Town and no one bothered to tell us. Watch Hill is a section, or village, of the Town of Westerly, not a town in its own right as Ms Shirvell indicates. Makes me wonder what else is not factual in this article.

Of course you are right, and I apologize for any confusion. I was speaking colloquially. Just like I grew up in Mystic, CT and most people who live there consider it a town when in fact its a fire district of both Groton and Stonington. I'll correct the wording to avoid an further confusion.

Would love to stay at this spectacular place. But the prices are outrageously expensive!!

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