Easton’s Beach

Newport, Rhode Island | C.1887

Photo Credit: Shannon Hammond

Easton’s Beach, located on Memorial Boulevard in Newport, Rhode Island is locally known as First Beach. It occupies a 3/4-mile-long stretch of sand and surf with a boardwalk to match.

The architectural firm Peabody & Stearns built the original Pavilion at Easton’s Beach in 1887. Facilities were soon expanded to resemble a Mediterranean Villa including bath houses, restaurants, a merry-go-round, and roller coaster.

At the time, summer vacations had become a new favorite pastime in America, and as the upper class of Rhode Island moved to the exclusive Bailey’s Beach, Easton’s became the destination for both middle and working-class beachgoers. Families could rent swimsuits and cabins, ride steamboats, and enjoy the amusement park at the public beach nestled among the luxurious mansions of Newport’s wealthy.

But when the Hurricane of 1938 hit shores, Newport, a coastal city, suffered tremendous damage. Many of the Pavilion’s original structures were reduced to rubble. Twenty years later, a new carousel was built and remains to this day with many of the present-day structures having been built in 1992.

Today, Easton’s Beach continues to maintain the historic charm of its Gilded Age beginnings. Visitors can ride the carousel, enjoy food stands and restaurants, and explore an aquarium run by Save the Bay, an organization launched in 1970 to protect and preserve Narragansett Bay.

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