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As the sea marches forward inland, the Victorian Browning Cottages draw closer to being swallowed up by the sea. These historic homes have been iconic in the greater Green Hill neighborhood. Author Bob Wyss from Rhode Island Monthly wrote an excellent article, Living on the Edge, where he investigated these spectacular homes, their history, and what seems like an inevitable outcome of being washed away into the ocean unless they are physically relocated again.
A Visit from a King & Queen
In his article, Wyss explored the family history of the properties against the backdrop of a century of storms and historic events, like in 1985 when Jordan’s King Hussein and Queen Noor made a visit to the homes, one day before being a guest at the white house of President Ronald Reagan.
Victorian Homes on a Barrier Beach
The homes were moved in 1998 back from the sea and closer to Card’s Pond. The thin strip of land that they sit on now is the barrier beach between Block Island Sound and Card’s Salt Pond. If you’d like to learn more about the barrier beaches in South County, Rhode Island, check out our Rock Report on Barrier Beaches.
Discover Your Inner Scientist
In less than a century, the shoreline in front of the cottages has eroded more than 122 feet. The awareness of shore erosion is a hot topic in Rhode Island today, and the state needs our help to monitor the status of our coast. Now there is an APP that you can download for free that makes it easy to report shore conditions during storms, King Tides and hurricanes.
MyCoast allows anybody to quickly submit photos of coastal events, such as storm damage or king tides, to state agencies. Use this app to snap a photo, pinpoint your location and upload it to the mycoast.org server. Your engagement helps the state collect important visual data that is enormously helpful to their archives and study of sea level rise.
Rhode Island History
A hundred years ago it was common to see Victorian homes along the coast of South County Rhode Island. Big giant beauties with umbrella wrap around porches that welcomed New Yorker and CT residents with an idyllic summer escape.
Most of these grand homes are gone today, many of them washed away during the hurricane of 1938 which devastated our area with death and destruction. Along a five-mile stretch between Weekapaug and Westerly only ten out of 500 homes survived and 252 souls were lost. People speculate that an underwater reef, just off the coast of Matunuck Beach served to protect the Browning Cottages during that epic storm knows as the Long Island Express. For those interested in reading about this storm in detail, and the Rhode Island families affected, I highly recommend you read Sudden Sea by R. A. Scotti, available through Amazon.com.
See the Browning Cottages for Yourself
The Browning Cottages are beautiful to see! The best way to reach them is at low tide, when you can walk the shoreline between Green Hill and Matunuck Beach, passing by Trustom Pond Reservation, at low tide only. So download your My Coastal App, check the tide report, and plan your walk!