T.M. Davis-Budlong Estate "The Reef"
Ocean Dr. at Brenton Pt.The Reef was built between 1876 and 1883 at the southernmost tip of Aquidneck Island, and owned by Theodore M. Davis, copper magnate, author, collector, and renowned Egyptologist. Sturgis & Brigham created an elegant shingle and stone clad Queen Anne villa destined to house Davis’ collection of old master paintings, largely bought through the art consultant Bernard Berenson, and later bequeathed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Year Built: 1876
The building was a large shingled mansion characterized by its tall chimneys, distinctive tower and wide windows overlooking the sea. As a landscape gardening enthusiast, M. Davis also created some of the most beautiful and extensive formal gardens in Newport.
Following Davis’ death in 1915, the eighteen-acre estate was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Milton J. Budlong of Providence. The Budlongs divorced in 1928 and the property was placed in contention. The house, never again lived in by the family, passed to Miss Frances Budlong. During World War II, anti-aircraft gun emplacements were set up around the house, which housed gunnery personnel. Vandalized throughout the 1950s, the villa was set on fire in 1961 and demolished on May 25, 1963. The site is now a state park with a restored Davis-era service bungalow and a now-derelict carriage house/stable built by the architect Theodore Davis Boal of Washington.
• National Register District
• American Architect and Building News, September 16, 1882, Sturgis and Brigham, architects, noted.
• Official Catalog, International Exhibition, United States Centennial Commission, Part I, 1876, p. 32 (#535 Sturgis & Brigham, five designs for cottages, likely included “The Reef”)
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