Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Weekapaug, Westerly, Rhode Island and The Weekapaug Inn

A  Few of the Summer Cottages of Weekapaug
The Weekapaug Inn in Westerly, Rhode Island, about two hours south of Boston, is newly re-opened.  This is ten minutes from Ocean House.  Weekepaug is an old, low-key summer colony of wood shingled cottages, started in the late 1800s.

It is also just seven miles down from its flashier neighbor, Watch Hill.  

Seven miles of Misquamicut Beach connect Weekapaug toWatch Hill.
The daily routines in Weekapaug today don’t differ all that much from decades, even generations, ago.     Life centers around the beach and the small yacht club.   There is swimming in Block Island Sound, tennis lessons, sailing lessons, and the weekly bingo night in the clubhouse.   Children still ride their bikes down to the little store for grilled cheese sandwiches and ice cream, where The New York Times are held for the adults.

Many of the old timers go swimming twice a day, once around 11am and then again at 4:00.   Always cognizant of the strong undertows, lifeguards keep their eyes out for the octogenarians as they head towards the water.  The lifeguards quietly hop down, offer an arm and escort the elderly swimmers into the water and past the trickier areas, then leave them to swim.   And when they spot them heading back to the beach, they do it again in the reverse.

There are also early morning dog meet-ups at the beach.  Residents congregate to throw balls into the water, for which the wet dogs express their appreciation by not just retrieving the balls but also shaking off on everybody.



A favorite evening pastime is sitting on front porches appreciating the often-strong ocean breezes.   In many houses, turn of the century wooden jigsaw puzzles (made there in the early 1900s) are left out – it usually takes a week or so to complete one. (Of course there are no pictures of the completed image to “cheat”.)









Unfortunately The Weekapaug Inn does not possess the same charm.    The original inn (1899) was washed away in the 1938 hurricane.  It had been rebuilt a bit further back from the beach in a safer location, on Quonochontaug Pond.

The Weekapaug Inn
It is now under the same ownership as Ocean House and is advertised as its sister property.  The redone Ocean House is a much, much, much more preferable destination than The Weekapaug Inn.  This property is an odd, expensive attempt at many styles, never mastering any.  This could be described as a New England Inn only by a GPS.



The Weekapaug Inn seemed to be attracting its target audience. (A tri-state almost flush)











Much of the decorations looks like someone was given an Amex Black Card and a Frontgate catalog.
   
The Weekapaug Inn's greatest asset is their very attentive and friendly wait staff.

The service was excellent.

Serving Chuck Royce

Vineyard Vines was their uniform vendor.


The food itself unfortunately mostly fell into the category of ego food.  Dishes were anemic, exhaustively over-prepared until heavy and the ingredients unrecognizable. (An exception was the orange juice and croissants, which were superb.) When your wallet is over two hundred dollars lighter for four people, and two of the people leave hungry, there is room for improvement.

After completing brunch there,the dominant recommendation is simple.  If you want an elaborate, big, celebratory meal, and for some reason you are in Weekapaug Inn parking lot, drive the ten minutes to the Ocean House.  Or ride your bike.  Or walk.  The view, the setting, the selection, and the decor there are that much better.




26 comments:

WRJ said...

You sure know how to make someone homesick! (Well, not -home- sick, exactly, but close enough.) I just love Weekapaug. My maternal grandfather grew up there, and had his first summer job at the Ocean House as, I believe, a lifeguard. Aesthetically, the Weekapaug Inn has nothing on the Ocean House, but funnily enough I've only admired the latter from the outside since the renovation--it's somewhat intimidating now that the paint isn't peeling and they've fenced off a portion of East Beach. I'm not sure who thought up the Weekapaug's combination brown, taupe, grey, and garnet exterior, but it's awful, and the pool area looks vaguely Pacific Northwest to me. The interior looks nice, though, however disharmonious it is with the outside--an Audubon print is hard to argue with.

It's funny how the new or "improved" houses (photos 7 and 8) stick out like sore thumbs. Too much crammed onto too small a canvas, and way too sparkly. But the real mystery is why all the new beach houses have those terrible light shingles that don't seem to ever darken and age as they should. They're everywhere!

The house in your third photo, to me, exemplifies everything I love about shingle styles--rambling, informal, inviting, palpably comfortable, and, of course, with siding from at least two different decades.

LG said...

WRJ, that is interesting about the siding- I never would have recognized that for what it is.

I think another thing about 7 and 8is that they are too vertical, which may be what you mean by "crammed."

Anonymous said...

Muffy, I LOVE your trench. You must share; what brand is it??

lljljljljj said...

Interesting post, I am going to Westerly for a wedding in October but we are staying at Shelter Harbor Inn.

Cranky Yankee said...

Thanks for another Rhode Island post. You inspired me to make Johnny Cakes for breakfast this morning.

Flo said...

Love the pictures of the homes, but I see what you mean about the inn, something just doesn't look "right" about it. And if someone ever comes and steals the coat off your back while you are walking, it's me, everytime you have a picture posted of you in that coat, I suffer from severe clothing envy, that shade of pink is just beautiful!

Muffy Aldrich said...

@Anonymous 1:31 - It is an older Ralph Lauren.

Anonymous said...

I love the shingle style houses and buildings seen along the New England coast. Simple, congruent with the landscape, functional, enduring. I guess that doesn't quite make the grade for 'upscale' these days. Ego food is an apt moniker. It can be applied as a theme here: ego architecture, ego decor, ego amenities, even ego cars. I chuckle inside when I see this. My image is of little peacock emperors strutting around with great self-importance, but without their clothes.

Cheers,
Gary

LPC said...

The first part of your post makes me happy, as it reminds me both visually and in memory so much of the summer in Wianno, 45 years ago. The second part makes me sad - I wish people thought more clearly when they invested money in businesses like this. It seems to be so hard to get it right. Perhaps they are making money, even so.

Greenfield said...

WRJ:

The reason the shingles are that funny color is because they aren't the same wood that was formerly used. Unfortunately, a great deal of the high-quality lumber used in the early 20th century, which lasted almost forever, is unavailable today.

I found this out a few years ago when I had a restoration company strip 100 years worth of layers of paint off my house. When they got it down to the bare wood, they found all old-growth cedar which they told me became extinct for all practical purposes shortly after this house was built in 1904.
The trees are harvested today long before they ever achieve their historic size and density.

By the same token, "locust" posts and rails for fencing today are no longer locust--they are poplar from the mid-Atlantic and only last a third as long. (sigh)

mary anne said...

See, this is why we love your blog. Its like having a good friend who goes on a jaunt then comes back and tells us all about it. Good, bad and pictures to boot. Thank you!

Ego food is such a great term and, unfortunately, can be applied too many times.

binker said...

ha...the RL trench coat....when older is definitely better these days. Like the famous Mickey Mantle quote.. "if I knew I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself" well....if I knew that the quality of clothing was going to go so far downhill over time, I would kept so much more of what I had!!!! I have pictures of me with Vera Bradley bags from 30 years ago. Why didn't I save them? Hindsight!!!

John said...

Great post and love the story about the lifeguards taking care of the elderly.

Steven B said...

I started reading The Daily Prep this year — and I'm sad to hear it will be your blog's last year. When I was about 12, my family went to Newport for a weekend. We toured the marble mansions. I was impressed, how could I not be? But it was Hammersmith Farm that sparked my imagination. Since then, shingle style has been my ideal. I'm a graphic designer working in Manhattan. I love NY, but I'm so glad to visit places like Weekapaug, if only through you blog. Thanks!

Steven B

JSprouse said...

I like your comment about the Amex card and the Frontgate catalog. It's all a bit to posh for me. We have friends in a retirement home that looks a lot this. We're not joining them.

Anonymous said...

Muffy-- You should do a post about preppy vacation spots, both in the U.S. and abroad.

--EM

Greenfield said...

"Could only be described as a New England Inn by a GPS" has to be my new benchmark for best backhanded "compliment" EVER. Can I keep it? ;)

Westerly said...

I was excited to see your post today was about the Westerly/Watch Hill/Weekapaug area. It is truly the forgotten part of RI. We have a house in Westerly and whenever I call on anyone from another part of the state to come look at work on the boat or house, they act as if you asked them to drive to Florida.

It's interesting that in the picture of the young waiter leaning in to the table with his hand behind his back, the gentleman to the right is Chuck Royce, the money behind the renovations to the OH and the Weekapaug Inn.

Anonymous said...

Love this post,,,,there is so much to notice! One thing struck me right off -- your shoes. Are those a recent Gucci purchase? Everything here makes me long for the NE shores. If you do decide to leave us at the end of the year, please publish these photographs. They brighten my day and give me "a glimmer still to cheer".

WRJ said...

Greenfield: interesting, though not surprising, I guess. It's just one of those pet peeves, like cruddy roofing, that inordinately bug me about otherwise nice enough houses. I like my shingles dark, as in the house with the teal shutters--or even darker!

Anonymous said...

Love the pink raincoat worn with khakis, navy cardigan, pearls, and navy loafers!

Anonymous said...

Being a Weekapauger it is interesting to read your recent blog entry. The problem with the color of the houses is that the shingles have been stained or dipped, so they will last longer, but will not weather. As to the new / renovated houses, the one is picture 8 is actually fairly original, with only a small addition. The Inn itself has actually been painted in the original 1939 paint colors. It has been restored eternally to as originally built. I do agree it is not the most charming structure, but to the locals it is at least familiar. Intend to agree about the interiors, liking only the historical accents, as well as the stunning views of the grounds and Quonochontaug Pond. Really the joy of the place is not having an overdone meal, but rather being able to stay in Weekapaug and enjoy the charms of the Pond, Beaches and community. The Ocean House and Watch Hill can never quite find this low key charm.

Lancer RIUSA said...

Amazing photos. Serene, classic.
Does anyone know how shell driveways stand up to plowing in the winter?

Anonymous said...

Weekapaug Inn as built in 1939

http://fbcdn-sphotos-a-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/380375_10150371445355758_1981380222_n.jpg

Anonymous said...

I love when you showcase places like this. I have quite a list started of new destinations! Love your pink coat! :) --Holly in PA

Anonymous said...

My grandma inherited the residence at 98 Noyes Neck Rd, from her sister, Ethel Charlwood in 1957just around the bend from the Weekapaug Inn. Spent a few summers there '57 and '58. The memories have thrilled me for a lifetime - it was Halcyon days then. Came back to visit the Inn in 2006 and could not believe that the area was FROZEN IN TIME. Totally delightful experience and can't think of a more wonderful place on earth. Stayed at the Inn and loved it's gentility and timeless d├ęcor. Was curious about the redo and somehow came across your blog. thanks for the pictures, the big homes on the water are as beautiful as life gets. Never been to the Ocean House but want to as a result of your opinion. Thank you.