House For Sale: Newport, Rhode Island
And, besides shopping, which goes without saying, her “to do” list? “Well,” she said, “you must do the Cliff Walk, and go out on Ocean Drive, and, for a history lecture as well as fun, I’d recommend taking one of the sailboat tours around the harbor.” Her final piece of advice: “Walk. Parking downtown can be impossible.”
Several years ago, Claire’s B&B was named one of the three best places to stay in all of Newport (and there are lots of them), which certainly indicates that she was doing a fabulous job. But, we wanted to know, didn’t she become weary of having “strangers” in her house all the time?
“I never had a problem with anyone,” she said, but added that most B&B associations indicate that “owner burnout” usually happens after seven years. So how was she able to go for 13 years? Again, her answer was specific: “First, have only two rooms. I tried doing three for a while, and it was too much. Second, don’t be open all year.” Claire’s season was May through October.
By this time we’d finished our coffee, downed two cinnamon rolls, learned a lot about Newport, and discovered the secrets of running a B&B. So it was time to tour the house. Charlie led us up steep but nicely carpeted stairs to the third floor, where we came upon a bedroom, full bath, and sitting room — all part of Claire’s B&B — as well as another bedroom and a walk-in attic. Back down on the second floor, we found the large, sunny master bedroom with the master bath, a good-size dressing room, Charlie’s corner office with his computer, and a second bedroom and bath for the B&B. In back was a laundry/storage room with a washer and dryer.
The first floor has a handsome entranceway area and a living room with fireplace, at one end of which is a sliding door opening to the family room, also with a fireplace. Then there are the dining room, a powder room, and the large eat-in kitchen, where we were introduced to Astro, the Balls’ friendly greyhound — relaxing there, Charlie told us, after a long working session the day before. Turns out Astro is a member of Therapy Dogs International, Inc.; he visits as many as a dozen elderly or hospitalized people several times a month.
“Being with Astro gives them a real lift,” said Charlie. We must say we felt pretty darn good after patting him for only a moment.
Continuing our tour, we peeked out the back door to the small porch, where Charlie has his cooker, facing a nice backyard with shrubs, flowers, trees, a lawn, and a blacktop area big enough for four cars. We didn’t go down into the cellar where, Charlie said, he has a small workshop and half bath.
Overall, the house is in tiptop shape, and although it’s a fairly large home (3,629 square feet of living space), it nonetheless has a homey, comfortable feeling about it throughout. We could be happy living at 26 Greenough Place.
The Balls’ reason for selling is the usual one: Charlie is retiring. Time to simplify their lives. They plan to settle near family in Maine, perhaps in a retirement community. (Their asking price: $1,049,000. Seems fair to us.)
After saying our good-byes to Claire, we stood for a moment with Charlie out on the covered porch, recently rebuilt, that extends across the front of the house. Looking through hanging plants down the tree-shaded street, we could just make out the Clement C. Moore house a few doors away. (You know, the fellow who wrote “The Night Before Christmas.”) Although they’re not visible from the porch, both the Redwood Library and Athenaeum and the Newport Art Museum are just a couple of minutes’ walk away, too. We could have settled so easily into one of the padded deck chairs out there.