Cliff Walk Trail Marker #15
Located along the end of Ledge Road in Newport, Rhode Island, stands architect John Russell Pope’s own house, The Waves. This house was built between 1926 and 1928 on the foundation of a previous summer cottage, The Breakwater.
Charles Warren Lippitt owned the Breakwater property in the mid-1890s, but only thirty years after the construction of Lippitt’s Castle, as the locals referred to it due to its many round towers with crenelated tops, it was dismantled by his heirs. It sat vacant for several years and was nearly completely demolished in 1926. After Pope, who had married the daughter of Newport stalwart Pembroke Jones, acquired the land from Lippitt in 1926, he decided to incorporate the remaining stonewall foundation into the overall plan of his new house. Pope, world-renowned for his architectural work in residential buildings and civic structures such as the Jefferson Memorial, National Gallery of Art and the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial at the American Museum of Natural History, created a Tudor/Cotswold-style home that seamlessly emerges from and sprawls across the rocky landscape. Although the construction incorporated then state-of-the-art methods, the materials for the house were chosen specifically to create an antiquated appearance.
After Pope’s death in August of 1937, his wife and daughters continued to live in The Waves until the start of WWII. During this time, the home was used to house military personnel, including Secretary of the Navy, and future Secretary of Defense, James Forrestal. When the war ended, Josephine Hartford Douglas (later, Bryce), heiress to the A&P supermarket chain and the Hartford Suspension Company shock absorber fortunes, acquired the house. Her last husband, Ivar Bryce, was a close friend of Ian Fleming and the model for James Bond’s sybaritic tastes. Her daughter Nuala, who was married to Senator Claiborne Pell, eventually added a cottage, Pelican Ledge, on an acre at the north end of the property. Frazier Jelke, the Good Luck margarine heir and Wall Street titan, was next to purchase The Waves, and he turned it into apartments. David and Julie Nixon Eisenhower lived here while he was stationed at the Navy base in Newport. Eventually the apartments were converted to condominiums, but the estate has largely been returned to a single-family residence by a present owner.
This Point of Interest is sponsored by Gansett Cruises and Fish ‘n Tales Adventures