Ben Ainslie’s much anticipated press conference this morning, expected to be about Big Ben sailing in the America’s Cup for Oracle. Meanwhile Larry Ellison through a lawyer has presented a proposal for the future of Beechwood
BeechwoodBeechwood could be restored to its past glory if renovations to the historic property are approved. Above, a loggia designed by Richard Morris Hunt that was lost to a storm, would be rebuilt.

By Tom Shevlin

NEWPORT — When yachtsman and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison purchased the Astor’s Beechwood two years ago, speculation swirled as to the historic manse’s fate.

Would it become his summer home? A home port to use as he sailed the northeast? Or would it be a simple trophy home – a house built by a titan of American industry, once again in the hands of another?

It appears that we now have an answer.

Plans submitted to the city’s zoning department on Tuesday detail the project.

Once rennovations are complete, Ellison plans to re-open the property to the public as an art museum through the newly created Beechwood Art Museum.

According to Newport attorney Peter Regan, who is representing the applicant locally, the property is currently zoned as a museum and single family dwelling. And while its use as a museum will remain the same, significant changes are also planned.

While the building had most recently been used as a living history museum and special events center, Ellison’s Beechwood will house a special collection of artwork personally owned by Ellison on the first floor, and a private residence on the second floor.

Regan likened the project to that of the Frick Museum in Manhattan, where artwork will be set amidst a residential backdrop.

The museum will be operated by the Atlantic Arts Museum, a 501(c)4 non-profit that will lease the property from a private holding company, thereby keeping the property on the tax rolls.

According to Regan, once renovations are complete the museum will be open to the public “from day one” and the view from both Bellevue Avenue and the Cliff Walk will be preserved. Further, rather than competing with existing art institutions, Regan says he believes the property will enhance Newport’s reputation as an arts destination.




NEWPORT, R.I.—A barge that sank in Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay after the October snowstorm is back on the surface.


The U.S. Coast Guard says efforts are now under way to remove 3,900 gallons of diesel fuel that were on the barge when it sank Oct. 31 following the Nor’easter.


The 120-by-30-foot barge flipped upside down when it sank in more than 100 feet of water. Crews decided to right the vessel and bring it into shallower water before removing the fuel.


The barge was operated by a contractor hired to paint the Pell Bridge, which connects Newport to Jamestown.


The Coast Guard is working with a salvage company to raise the barge. Officials say the operation could end this week depending on the weather.


John Hopf was a man of his time. He was much more than just the photographs of the America’s Cup. It is important to put him in the context of time. He was working with the available materials and technology. There was no Go-pro, or digital cameras. He was a neighbor and I could walk by and see the retractable roof  where he had his telescope that he had built.

John T. HopfNEWPORT – John Timothy Hopf,
91, of Newport, RI, died Tuesday, September 27, 2011 at home surrounded by his family. He was the husband of Audrey R. (Linehan) Hopf. Born in Newport, RI, on September 26, 1920 he was the son of the late John M. and Margaret (Murphy) Hopf.John was the most visible name in Newport. It’s on millions of reprints of his sixty postcards, five Newport photo books and numerous aerial photo-posters. He was responsible for the Newport Then and Now. A Newport native, John has served as president of the Newport Taxpayers Association and is its oldest board member. He received the 1965 Stellafane Award for a telescope that he built. But his most prized award is the Gold Medal Award from the Preservation Society of Newport County in 1977, for his publishing of the 1st mansions of Newport book. John has also received the award for the best postcard from the Postcard Association of America, for his aerial of the Cliff Walk and the Breakers. Many of these large picture’s are still on display in local restaurants, like Christies, the Viking Hotel, Coddington Brewing Co. and the Atlantic Beach Club. John was the first to take an aerial of the Island at 10,000 feet, and other unsurpassed aerial photographs including Providence. He was a commercial and aerial photographer. He and his family ran a business publishing post cards and guidebooks of Rhode Island. He was an avid Studebaker collector, he filmed many historic movies of Newport dating back to the 30’s, and was an avid astronomer belonging to the Skyscraper Association. He is also an accomplished pianist. He produced piano arrangements for silent movies for many years at the former Casino Theater and at the Newport Art Museum. He was also a member of St. Mary’s Church.Besides his wife of 58 years, he is survived by his children, Adele E. Hopf of Newport, RI, Linda M. Davignon and her husband Patrick of Cranston, RI, Catherine Drescher of Warwick, RI, John J. Hopf of Middletown, RI and Susan M. Hopf of Newport, RI, his grandchildren, Melissa Payne and her husband Christopher of York, PA, his great-grandchildren Ryan and Matthew Payne, and his sister Estelle O’Connell of Newport, RI and nieces and nephews. He was the grandfather of the late Ryan P. Davignon.Calling hours are omitted. His funeral will be held on Thursday, September 29, 2011, at 9 a.m. from the Hambly Funeral Home, 30 Red Cross Avenue, Newport, with a Mass of Christian burial at 10 a.m. in St. Mary’s Church, Spring Street, Newport. Burial will be in St. Columba Cemetery, Brown’s Lane, Middletown.Donations in his memory, may be made to the Robert Potter League for Animals, P.O. Box 412, Newport, RI 02840, Visiting Nurse Services of Newport and Bristol Counties, 1184 East Main Road, Portsmouth, RI 02871 or to the Covenant House, 460 West 41st, New York, NY, 10036-6801.


The story of the Newport waterfront was one tied to a long history of the sea. Newport is an island and before the bridge it really was a different place. The ferry only ran during the day until summer and then only until 11 pm. Shopping centers were only something one read about in the news; somewhere else.

John and Kelly, sitting on the steps lived in a rooming house on Spring street: I doubt they had health insurance. Having a job was a badge of honor, a duty. All of the men pictured had skills that today people are paying to learn at places like IYRS. They were not particularly literate, but had something to offer.

Aluminum masts were still unusual. Rigging was wire rope. Wood shavings and sawdust were always everywhere, along with galvanized nails and silicon bronze flathead slotted wood screws.

Boats had to be tended to when launched until the planking swelled enough to keep the water out. I delivered a boat south one year that had spent the summer tied to the dock. It was a miracle we did not sink she leaked so badly during the trip . I will add that it blew 50 the entire time.

The Navy was a big presence in Newport, but so was fishing. This was a working waterfront.


All stories must have context. These images are the Newport waterfront I knew as a teenager. I had to limit the images, there are so many that evoke memories of how things were, a simpler time.

Joe Cooper is responsible for this post, when he referred to me as the original wharf rat. The consequences of an offhand remark.   I looked up the definition of wharf rat. Unfortunately what I found was not as flattering as I had hoped.

I will post some images of the people who were the real waterfront: gave it personality. For now this is the place they lived and worked.

Long strand manila rope was sill an important commodity in the chandleries, three strand dacron was really special, Samson braid and Intrepid braid did not yet exist.

I learned to make my first wire to rope tail splice, and macrame and baggywrinkle were commonplace. Newport was still very much a Navy town.  The MP’s were on every corner during the weekends to deal with the sailors on leave.

The important fact is that it was a working waterfront, the fabric of which had evolved from necessity. Life was definitely a little slower.

HISTORICAL CONTEXT, the way we were

It is important to keep a perspective. This is the Newport during the 1960’s.Newport was still as sleepy navy town. We do not often take the time to reflect on how things were. If you are like me; you are racing to finish what you started during the day. Never mind the simple interruptions.
    The Newport Bridge did not open until 1969. The photograph of the ferry with the bridge in the background I took from the transom of “Carina” on the way out to the start of the transatlantic race to Ireland.
    These are the men who worked on the 12 meters and every other ship that was hauled at Newport Shipyard.
     Newport still had a working waterfront, filled with fishing boats. As you look at the photos many more small insights will appear.


Today I sailed the Queen’s Cup, a race with no time limit usually sailed the second day of the New York Yacht Club’s annual cruise.

I sailed on the six meter “Madcap”, a 1921 Frederick Hoyt design, we had our own class.
This weekend was also the Folk Festival at Fort Adams so leaving and returning around the Fort was congested.
The photo of a six meter against the 90 foot “Rambler” gives you a sense of the range and scale of boats involved in the race.

bannister’s wharf

In 1977 bannister’s wharf was the dock for the Courageous/Independence syndicate. A lift was installed and we alternated boats in the lift.

I arrived early each morning as I was responsible for the mast and other components and left,usually before the sun set, unless we were making a major change. I never understood what the scene was like at The Candy Store and the Black Pearl. My only clue was the overwhelming smell of the garbage that greeted me each morning.
The 12 meter North American Championships are being held this weekend and hosted at Bannister’s Wharf.