Stone House on the rocks; Little Compton landmark hits hard times

The Stone House and barn are now on the market for $6.9 million. Photo by Tom Killin Dalglish The Stone House and barn are now on the market for $6.9 million. Photo by Tom Killin Dalglish

 

The Stone House and barn are now on the market for $6.9 million. Photo by Tom Killin Dalglish

The Stone House and barn are now on the market for $6.9 million. Photo by Tom Killin Dalglish

LITTLE COMPTON— The 178-year old Stone House at 122 Sakonnet Point Road is up for sale for $6.9 million. It went on the market a little over a month ago, an upsetting turn of events for over a dozen couples with wedding receptions planned there.

Its future is now up for grabs. The Little Compton treasurer’s office says the Stone House owes property taxes for the years 2012 and 2013 totaling $25,407.

Out at the Stone House last Thursday and Friday, locksmiths changed all the locks on the buildings, and a property manager (who declined to give his name) was on the premises inspecting the re-keying job for Rockland Trust, he said.

Rockland Trust, of Rockland, Mass. holds a $5.8 million mortgage on the property, according to a 2013 license renewal application filed with the Town of Little Compton by Round Pond Management Corporation.

Round Pond operates the Stone House, and three of its corporate officers signed the application for four licenses the Stone House was seeking be renewed by the town — Class BV beverage, entertainment, holiday sales, and victualing.

On December 19, 2013, the Little Compton Town Council approved all four licenses, subject to the Stone House’s ability to meet all legal requirements.

That didn’t happen. The Stone House was not in compliance, said Town Clerk Carol Wordell, so the licenses have not been issued.

Meanwhile, the mortgage may be in foreclosure, said Ms. Wordell.

She’s been unable to reach the Stone House manager, Ron Lavoie, she said. The phone is disconnected or doesn’t answer.

Contacted for confirmation about the status of the mortgage, Rockland Trust mortgage officer Eric Carlson said, “I’m not at liberty to discuss any of that,” and hung up.

Chan Lyell, of the realtor listing the property — Gustave White Sotheby’s International in Newport — declined to say whether the property is in foreclosure, and said he was unable to provide further information for confidentiality reasons.

Round Pond President Scott Digiacomo did not return phone calls. Frank Tessitore, Round Pond’s corporate secretary (and a lawyer) said through his secretary that he was “unavailable” and declined to say when he would be.

The lack of licenses means that weddings cannot be conducted at the Stone House. Russell Morin Fine Catering of Newport holds an exclusive contract with the Stone House to cater weddings there.

“I started getting bad vibes this January,” said Russ Morin, who heads Morin Catering. “About a month ago I got the word that Rockland Trust had called the note.”

Mr. Morin said he was committed to cater weddings for 13 brides and three or four rehearsal dinners over the spring and summer, so he says he gave the Stone House managers an ultimatum.

“If you don ‘t tell me the place is going to be available this year, I’m going to contact the brides and grooms,” he says he told them.

They didn’t provide the assurances he needed, Mr. Morin said, and so he informed the brides.

“This has taken over my life,” he said, “trying to deal with frantic brides.”

Mr. Moren said he will refund all the deposits to disappointed brides, and he’s trying to help them make alternative arrangements.

Mr. Morin began his exclusive arrangement with the Stone House in 2011, with one or two events. In 2012 and 2013, he said, he catered 12-15 weddings and corporate events at the site.

He invested in a new floor in the barn on the property (about $15,000, he said), for which he now has a lien.

He said his lien is way down a list that he estimates totals in the millions.

“A lot of people are going to get burned on this,” he said.

Mr. Morin said, “on weddings they filled the rooms. For the quality of the rooms it was a bargain. The brides loved the Stone House. I learned how important a place like this is for the bride.”

Since 2007, the property has been the subject of local speculation, as it passed through several changes in ownership and management.

In that year its long-time owner Tod Moore, who owned the property since 1975 and lives next door, sold it for $5.4 million to Goosewing Hotels and Resorts.

Goosewing’s principals — Craig Pishotti and Zachary Miller — invested heavily in the place, renovating it over a two-year period at a cost of an estimated $12 million — The television show This Old House even did a one-episode shoot of renovations there.

On April 25, 2008 the Stone House was named to the National Register of Historic Places.

The property comes with a long history and an imposing physical presence. Over the years since it was built in 1936 the Stone House, and the barn that sits on the property, have served as a private residence, speakeasy, inn, conference center, tap room or tavern, restaurant, and wedding site.

After it reopened in the summer and fall of 2009, fully remodeled, it promised much. Luxury amenities had been installed in the rooms. Both barn and house had sprinkler systems installed. Structural steel shored up the porches. Exterior stonework was repaired (the walls are said to be two feet thick).

Remodeling costs were ultimately estimated at $12 million. Because of the historic nature of the property, tax credits (which could be transferred to new owners) estimated at a little over $2 million were secured.

Kayaking, fishing, hot air balloon rides, yoga sessions, a daily spa, wine tours, visits to local fishermen to select a fish for dinner — all were available.

Package prices ranged from three nights for $3,250 (for a honeymoon) to $9,650 for two nights at the Stone House and a “sail away” on a 59-foot Hinkley yacht to Martha’s Vineyard for an overnight.

New management (Round Pond) came in near the end of 2009, and Mr. Pishotti and Mr. Miller were replaced.

Mr. Morin said he’s lost about $25,000 during his arrangement with the Stone House managers.

“I think it’s been belly up since it reopened,” he said. “The best way to get it reborn is to let the folks in Little Compton run it,” he said.

The house, and the barn that comes with it, are set on 2.7 acres close to the tip of Sakonnet Point.

The house has 11,000 square feet of interior space, and the barn 8,500. Together they have 19 bedrooms, 16 full bathrooms, and three partial bathrooms.

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