Historic Barrington home undergoes big changes

nayatt house

Anyone driving down Nayatt Road recently may have noticed the shell of house in the midst of a significant renovation project.

The home, located on the north side of Nayatt between Washington Road and Rhode Island Country Club, is stripped down two walls and a chimney.

The home at 116 Nayatt Road has a long history — it is among more than 160 houses recognized through the Barrington Preservation Society’s Plaque Program, which denotes homes that are at least 100 years old and maintain their original architectural integrity.

Bonnie Warren, chairwoman of the plaque program, said the preservation society is concerned with any major alteration to an historic property that has received a plaque.

Ms. Warren also said she believes 116 Nayatt Road is suffering a “great loss of integrity” during its renovation. She referred to the nature of the work as a “facadomy,” a term her former colleague coined to describe historic homes that maintain some of their exteriors but are gutted thoroughly.

Dorcas Sharp reportedly paid $500,000 for the home on May 15. In September, a building permit was issued for $375,000 of work on the home. Ms. Sharp said she was not interested in commenting on the project.

How old is the home?

Estimates on the exact age of the house differ by about a century, though the structure is historic in even the most conservative estimates.

The town’s tax assessor database lists the home with an original construction date of 1720.

This date was also the time-frame listed when the home received its initial plaque roughly 40 years ago. More recently, however, further research was conducted on the home because its design didn’t appear to be indicative of the early 18th century.

The Barrington Preservation Society maintains files on each plaqued home at the town museum, inside Barrington Public Library.

Documents included in the file on 116 Nayatt Road state an investigation identified the home’s original owner as Simon Smith, who purchased two tracts of land from his father, Nathaniel Smith, in 1817, to build the home.

Simon Smith appears to have lived on the farm with his wife, Lydia Bosworth, and their children, Lewis, William, Lydia, Elizabeth and Harriet.

In Jan. 1876, the property appears to have been sold to Nathaniel J. Potter along with a $5,000 mortgage.

Mr. Potter is one of several local figures included in a National Register of Historic Places application filed by the preservation society for 115 Nayatt Road in 2004. Mr. Smith, according to this application, was a Providence contractor who in 1847 discovered large deposits of clay on Nayatt Point. He is said to have started the Nayatt Company Brickworks, which built a canal, lock, gates and a tow path along Mussachuck Creek. The company later evolved into the Narragansett Brick. Co., which produced more than 67 million bricks in 1897, according to the application.

Mr. Potter also appears to have promoted the opening of the Bay House Hotel on the northwest corner of Nayatt and Washington roads.

Simon Smith’s son Lewis B. Smith purchased the home’s mortgage in Dec. 1881. He also worked for Mr. Potter at the brick company.

Lewis Smith, like Mr. Potter, appears to have been a prominent member of late 19th century Barrington society. Following his death in May 1892, a newspaper notice was published calling for a meeting of local citizens in light of his passing. The notice describes Mr. Lewis as “one of the most influential citizens” in town.

He reportedly served as overseer of the poor in addition to time as town council president. He was also apparently a member of the State Board of Charities and Corrections, a representative and senator in the General Assembly, a congregational church deacon, treasurer of a congregational society and a trustee of the public library.

In 1882, the Potters transferred their Nayatt Point property to Lucy and Benjamin Jackson. Mr. Jackson lived at 116 Nayatt Road before construction of “The Manor” across the street at 115 Nayatt Road — the large brick estate.

Mr. Jackson served as treasurer of a banking company that later became the Providence Banking Company. He also served as president of Globe National Bank, director of Weybosset National Bank, director of the Union Railroad Company, president of the Rhode Island Suburban Railroad, president and director of the Pawtucket Street Railway Company, the Providence Cable Tramway Company and the United Traction and Electric Co.

Outside of his business life, Mr. Jackson was active in social and civic circles. He was a member of the Hope Club, the Squantum Club and the Union League Club of New York. Additionally, Mr. Jackson served as a trustee for Rhode Island College.

“The Nayatt Point community wined and dined together,” said Ms. Warren, who is author of the 2004 National register of Historic Places application.

“They were a very wealthy, very civic minded, very congenial group.”

In May of 1970, Providence resident John Mason Gross wrote a letter in response to inquiry from a Nayatt Road resident looking for information on the home. Mr. Gross said he and his family spent four months at 116 Nayatt Road every summer from 1913 through 1928. Mr. Gross wrote the house was owned by Mr. Jackson, who lived in the historic brick home across Nayatt Road.

“At that time, Mr. Jackson owned all the land from the bay back to the third hole at the Country Club,” wrote Mr. Gross.

“Our house had no heat and no electricity. We used kerosene lamps. Even at that time it was a very old house and I can distinctly remember my mother saying it was about 200 years old at the time we lived there.”

The land stayed with the Jacksons through construction of “The Manor” a 115 Nayatt Road in 1913. The smaller, 116 Nayatt Road land went to Henry W. Cooke in May 1936 after Mr. Jackson’s widow and Donald Jackson defaulted on a mortgage. Mr. Cooke sold the property two months later to Harold and Hazel Fasick.

In July 1945, the Fasicks appear to have sold the property to Frances and Katherine Barrett. Ten years later, the Barretts sold the property to Raymond and Dorothy Curraw.

Daniel and Ann Hanson next bought the property in 1966.

The 51,000 square foot lot most recently changed hands in May.

The property has a total assessed value of $1.174 million.

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One Comment;

  1. danskmind said:

    I have no idea who the people are who moved in to the house, but I presume they got a permit through the town and if the town didn’t object to the alterations then why is this poor family hung out to dry like this. This is so Barrington – I feel really bad for the family.

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