History & Grounds

History of Our Storied Hotel

At the turn of the century, hotels dotted the New England coastline, inviting guests to escape the heat of the cities and spend their summers by the sea.

Famously known for its warm yellow facade and stunning views of the Atlantic, the Rhode Island Ocean House opened in 1868 just after the Civil War.

For those who could afford the luxury of travel, Ocean House became the quintessential summer home attracting many distinguished guests in the early 1900s. The grand Victorian hotel was a genteel resort on the beach where generations of families and guests from across America came “to summer.” In fact, in 1916 Ocean House was immortalized in the silent movie American Aristocracy, starring Douglas Fairbanks.

Ocean House welcomed guests for 135 years, but as with many historic hotels, over time, neglect took its toll. The Ocean House was closed in 2003 when it was deemed beyond feasible repair. In 2004 a new structure replicating the original exterior design was conceived. Today, this much-loved beach hotel has been recreated to convey the romance of its storied past and the rich character of Watch Hill, Rhode Island.

The new resort features 49 rooms and 18 Signature Suites, providing more spacious accommodations than the original structure, which offered 159 rooms. Viewed from the outside, all of the resort’s 247 windows remain in their original positions. More than 5,000 salvageable artifacts and furnishing elements were lovingly harvested from the original structure’s historic interior.

Listen to a Podcast with Lauren DiStefano, author of the book, A Sense of Place: The History of Ocean House. Courtesy of Lee Howard and The Day. Listen Here


Ocean House’s 13 acres of beautiful oceanfront landscape overlook a 650-foot private white-sand beach with views of Montauk, Block Island and the Atlantic Ocean. Within the expansive grounds of the hotel, you’ll find much to enjoy.

Discover stunning hotel grounds that capture the charm of coastal Rhode Island

• Direct access to a 650-foot white-sand beach with the luxury of cabana beach service
• Outdoor venues for private events, dining, and cocktails
• Tournament-level croquet lawn
• Putting green
• Shuffleboard court
• Gardens used by our Chefs for Culinary Education Programs
• Historic Watch Hill Chapel, a nondenominational chapel, for exceptional luxury weddings large and small
• Steps down from Plimpton Road to the classic seaside village of Watch Hill, Rhode Island