The mysterious house on a rock called Clingstone

Fort Wetherill Road, Jamestown, RI 02835

Clingstone, a big house on a small rock in the middle of Narragansett Bay near Providence, Rhode Island (Jamestown actually), is far from ordinary. Originally built in 1905, this 10,000 square foot historic mansion is known by locals as simply “The House on the Rock”. The owner, Henry Wood, an eighty-something eccentric retiree with roots all the way to the home’s bones. One of Henry’s distant cousins, Joseph Lovering Wharton, built the house as an act of defiance to the local government, who apparently was upset the government had taken his land to build a base near Jamestown.

Wait, what? A dungeon?

The house is huge and isn’t without it’s own strange tales. Apparently it can withstand hurricane winds, contains a dungeon and people have died trying to swim out to it in the cold waters of the bay. The entire family is pretty eclectic, apparently they can be seen mooning passersby, giving people the finger and having a ball. Henry isn’t without his own eccentricities either, the host was known at one time to force visitors to the house to sign their name in a guestbook and to draw a picture of a pig while blind-folded. One can only imagine the reasoning behind this quite odd behavior.

“The house on a rock” has been a popular dream home in Jamestown, Rhode Island for over a century. In 1904, after the Federal Government seized his estate on nearby Bull Point for a fort, J. S. L. Wharton started building a new summer house he called Clingstone on a tiny “dumpling” on the busy East Passage of Narragansett Bay, across from Newport Harbor. Many predicted it would soon be swept away by a storm, but it was strongly made and has endured to this day.

By the 1950’s, Clingstone was essentially abandoned, for sale for back taxes. In 1961 Henry Wood, a Boston architect and a distant cousin of Wharton’s, bought it and began the lifelong task of restoring and maintaining this remarkable landmark. Wood’s work has been chronicled in feature articles in the Boston Globe and the New York Times.

Photo credit:, Thomas K Sharpless and New York Times


Fort Wetherill Road, Jamestown, RI 02835

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