NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — The ruins of a crumbling stone structure in Newport will be torn down later this year, according to the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM).
Mike Healey, a spokesperson for the DEM, tells 12 News that “The Bells” at Brenton Point State Park will be demolished in roughly three months.
The dilapidated structure used to be a grand estate and was first built back in 1876. The building was destroyed by a fire in 1960 and has been in disarray ever since.
Despite the no-trespassing signs and chain-link fence surrounding the ruins, Healey said parkgoers still sneak in every now and then. The crumbling stone structure, which is littered with trash and graffiti, has been cordoned off for more than a decade due to safety concerns.
Sky Drone 12: Bird’s eye view of “The Bells” roof collapse (Story continues below.)
Those safety concerns were brought to the forefront Monday afternoon, when a portion of the structure’s roof gave way. Healey said the roof collapsed under the weight of a teenager who had climbed on top of the abandoned structure.
The 15-year-old fell 25 feet to the ground, according to Healey, along with a concrete slab that landed on top of two other teenagers standing below. Those three boys were rushed to the hospital with serious injuries, while a fourth was treated by first responders.
The DEM surveyed the former estate back in February 2022 and determined that it couldn’t be salvaged or restored due to its condition.
The structure is part of the Ocean Drive Historic District and needs to be preserved before it can be torn down. It’s unclear exactly how the structure will be preserved, though one of the ideas being floated is to record its history through a series of photographs.
An exact date for the demolition has not yet been set.