HISTORIC HILL – CLASSIC, COASTAL AND STEEPED IN HISTORY
When I think of all the places I lived in Newport over the years, I keep coming back to my favorite: The Historic Hill, or as most locals call it, “The Hill.”
Yes, it can be bustling at times, with cars and trucks speeding by, groups of tourists heading downtown or back to their B&Bs, inns, and hotels. Tour groups staring in your windows. Church bells, fog horns and distant vibes of local bands playing. Oh, and that constant sound of renovation echoing down the cobblestone streets. It’s the price of living in a tight downtown neighborhood where streets were made for horse and buggy, and most homes were built in the 17-1800’s. Many have been restored to exact detail and with modern amenities, but yet still come with interesting historical facts, and folklore to be told.
This neighborhood, according to City Hall officials, does not have any specific borders, but some townies would describe it as the area downtown spanning from Barney Street to the north, Bowery Street to the south, and Spring Street and Bellevue Avenue from the west and east respectively. Others would widen its boundaries west of Bellevue Avenue up Kay Street and Old Beach Road, and east of Spring Street toward Thames Street. It’s usually because they want to be included in its esteemed reputation.
HOME TO ICONIC NEWPORT, RI LANDMARKS
This is a place where you can walk up the street and be in awe over the Old Stone Mill in Touro Park, which some say was built by the Vikings, but likely was built in the mid-1600s as a sand mill by Benedict Arnold (Governor of The Colony of RI). Its neighboring Pelham Street was the first roadway in America to be lit by gas lamp posts, in 1805. I just can’t help to think how back then, everyone was so envious of the people who lived on it.
Many of these old buildings are located smack dab in the middle of the city’s Historic District, which can make restoring a property an expensive laborious task. But without local organizations such as The Preservation Society of Newport County, Newport Historical Society, and The Newport Restoration Foundation, “The Hill” just would not have survived and kept the charm and character it has embraced for nearly 400 years. You can just walk down some of its streets and envision dirt or cobblestone roads, with no cars and streetlights. It’s like being in another place and time.
Parking is certainly a premium on “The Hill,” though it wasn’t a huge concern in colonial days of horse and buggy. The good news is the location is ideal for walking everywhere. Newport’s bustling waterfront (Bannister’s, Bowen’s, Long and Hammett’s Wharves) are only a block or two away. Broadway, Bellevue and Spring Street are equally convenient, hosting the Audrain Automobile Museum, The Tennis Hall of Fame and St. Mary’s Church where the Kennedys were wed. For those times we need to leave Aquidneck Island, it’s only a two- to four-minute ride to the Newport Bridge, which is a huge plus in the summer months.
HISTORIC HILL’S NOTABLE ATTRACTIONS
- The Arnold family burial ground (Pelham Street) where Benedict Arnold is not buried.
- Corne Street, where Michel Corne convinced his 18th century neighbors, and eventually the city, that the tomato was not poisonous, and hence is known in history to have introduced the edible fruit to America. Cool right?
- Trinity Church (Spring Street) is the oldest Episcopal Church in R.I. and was founded in 1698.
- How could I leave out my fellow Elks Lodge (Pelham Street), which housed the Naval Academy in the 1860s. Newport’s naval prowess continues today at the Naval War College (Cushing Rd).
- While I could go on and on about the location and historic legacy of “The Hill,” you must be thinking that living here must come with a premium price. And in most cases, you would be right.
Here are some MLS stats for single family homes 2019, comparing nearby neighborhoods:
THE HILL THE POINT KAY/CATHERINE
Ave Sales Price $835k $812k $805
Sales per sq ft $470 $485 $370
#of sales 14 24 25
Most # active in a month: 9 20 16
Inventory is low on The Hill, and on average single-family homes are more costly, as are condominiums and multi-families. But the price tag doesn’t seem to deter those who wish to live in this beautiful neighborhood. Hence, we have many qualified buyers excited for their next home to come along.
If you’re thinking of selling or buying on Historic Hill and share my passion for this neighborhood, I would love to chat. New stories always are welcome.
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