The Reef Estate Stables & Carriage House “The Bells”

(1 reviews)


The Reef Estate Stables & Carriage House, later renamed The Bells, is an iconic abandoned structure in Newport, Rhode Island. This abandoned mansion can be found right in Brenton Point State Park. 

The Reef Estate Establishment

The Reef Estate was built for Theodore M. Davis in 1876. Davis was an American lawyer and businessman. He made a fortune in the cooper industry. After developing a large net worth and retiring from business, he acquired 18-acres along Ocean Avenue in Newport, Rhode Island. He would have his dream home built on this land and enjoy sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean. 

The mansion itself was built by The Boston architectural firm of Sturgis & Brigham while the carriage house was built by Theodore Davis Boal of Washington. Davis wanted the home be a great place to relax and also a place to display artifacts from one of his hobbies. He was a well-known Egyptologist who completed many excavations in Egypt. Davis was especially popular because of his excavations in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings between 1902 and 1913. Ultimately, when building The Reef, Davis needed ample space to display his priceless Egyptian artifacts.

When finished, the mansion was a elegant shingle and stone clad Queen Anne villa. It boasts a massive main house with multiple gallery spaces, a carriage house with horse stables, a servant’s house, beautiful gardens, and much more. It was considered to be one of the finest properties in Newport.

New Owners and New Name

After Theodore M. Davis passed away in 1915, his home was put up for sale. Milton J. Budlong and his wife purchased the home to be used as a summer estate. They decided to change the name of the mansion to The Bells and they enjoyed the home for many summers. The Budlong’s divorced in 1928 and it was not a very civil divorce. This led to the home being placed in contention. Ultimately, it was never lived in again by the Budlong family.

World War 2

During World War 2, the government sought to increase the coastal defenses of the Narragansett Bay and this led to them setting up anti-aircraft gun emplacements on the estate. The guns were pointed out towards the ocean and gunnery personal were housed in the mansion. 


After World War 2 ended, the guns were removed and all personal vacated the property. The estate was returned to the Budlong family heirs. None of the family members choose to utilize the home. The home became vandalized throughout the 1950s and a major fire occurred at the home in 1961. This lead to the mansion being demolished in 1963. 

What Remains Today

The state of Rhode Island acquired the waterfront property in 1969 and in 1976, it was converted into Benton Point State Park. The state park features monuments, charcoal grills, fields, restrooms, benches, and spectacular views of the ocean. 

Some of the structures from the original estate remain standing today. The carriage house and stables are the largest structure still standing, despite being in extremely rough shape. Visitors who are able to get inside the structure can see some of the old horse stables, multiple living rooms, and an old stairway. Most of the walls are covered in graffiti and the second floor has been completely blocked off in the recent years. There is also a old stone water tower which the state has converted into an observation tower. A modern stairway allows visitors to safely get to the top of the structure and admire great views of the property. Ultimately, this is one of the coolest abandoned sites in the state of Rhode Island! 

As always, be careful when exploring decaying structures because they can collapse at anytime. Also, obey any “No Trespassing” signs.



  • Year Built: 1876
  • Year Abandoned: 1961 after the adjacent mansion was burned down
  • Original Function: Stables and carriage house

Reef Estate Location

  • Park: Brenton Point State Park
  • Address: Ocean Drive
  • Town: Newport
  • State: Rhode Island
  • GPS: Lat 41.4534248 Lng -71.3541872
  • Parking notes: There are hundreds of free parking spots at Brenton Point State Park. To get to the Reef Estate Stables and Carriage House, there is one main path which starts at the park ranger station. It is only a short walk. Additionally, visitors can walk across the large field on the west side of the park to the abandoned building. 
  • Parking directions: HERE
  • Location directions: HERE

1 review for The Reef Estate Stables & Carriage House “The Bells”

  1. Tiffany

    Very cool spot! Super creepy though!

    Image #1 from Tiffany
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