Paul H. Harpin


Today the land northwest and west of Bailey’s Beach reaching to Cherry Neck and Hazard’s Road on Newport’s Ocean Drive is a pristine treasure of scenic beaches and stately mansions and cottages. In the mid-19th century this property was called Rocky Farm and was owned by one man, John Alfred Hazard, a descendant of one of Newport’s founders. Upon his death in 1880, his will was the subject of contention and controversy. It resulted in the gift of Rocky Farm to the Newport Hospital, an organization entirely unprepared for its management. Fortunately, the timing coincided with Newport’s economic growth and its developing status as a capital of society. Along with that came a desire for leisure and pleasure, which Rocky Farm accommodated quite well with its picturesque beachfront property. Two separate beaches— Hazard’s Beach and Gooseberry Beach—eventually resulted, each owned and run by corporations formed by local citizens. The remaining Rocky Farm property was eventually sold and most of the land became the site of magnificent seaside dwellings. One parcel became Newport’s only public high school. The end result was that John Alfred Hazard’s donation was central to the development of a major portion of the Ocean Drive from the late 1880s until the mid-1950s.