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Taylor Swift’s Rhode Island Mansion

As most people would expect, Taylor Swift owns homes in the typical places where famous musicians have houses– New York City, Los Angeles, and Nashville. However, many people don’t know that Swift also has an estate in a much lesser-known area, Watch Hill, Rhode Island. Swift bought the oceanfront mansion in April 2013 for over $17 million. The four-story house has forty rooms, with eight bedrooms and ten bathrooms, and takes up 11,000 square feet. Though the house is far from being Swift’s most frequently visited residence, it is pretty cool that she chose to include a Rhode Island property in her impressive list of owned real estate.

Located in the tiny beach town of Watch Hill, the house is not easy to find, even with its massive size. From the street view, it is easy to miss the house because hedges surround most of the gated entrance area. Even when you do find the correct gates for Swift’s house, the layout of the driveway and the landscaping make it impossible to see the house from the street. The house sits on top of a bluff just off of the beach, with massive boulders and a fence around the edges of the property. If you walk on East Beach in Watch Hill, you can get a clear view of the mansion. It is easier to see the house if you walk a bit away from it, as the massive hill makes it difficult to get a full view from right next to the house.

Though the house has not gotten a lot of coverage in the media in recent years, there were many news stories about Swift’s extravagant Fourth of July parties in the years right after she purchased the home. The parties were always over the top, featuring a massive inflatable waterslide and lots of matching Independence Day attire for guests. The last major party was Fourth of July in 2016, and the paparazzi captured pictures of many celebrities enjoying the Watch Hill estate. Some of the partygoers included Karlie Kloss, Blake Lively, Ryan Reynolds, and Tom Hiddleston. Swift had a good run from 2013 to 2016 of hosting these iconic parties, and I’m curious (and hopeful) to see if she’ll bring the tradition back any time soon! 

On Swift’s July 2020 album Folklore, her song “The Last Great American Dynasty” uncovers the history of the Rhode Island house. The song tells the story of Rebekah Harkness, the heiress to the Standard Oil fortune. Harkness was one of the richest women in the world in the 1950s after her husband died. She inherited the Watch Hill house, known as Holiday House, after her husband’s death, and she threw many large parties at the house. Swift’s song details these festivities and the other controversies of Harkness’ time at Holiday House. She connects Harkness’ experiences to her own life, as her purchase of the house came with its own scandals of disrupting the quiet Watch Hill neighborhood and throwing high-profile Fourth of July parties.

If you’re looking for a fun day trip from Providence, Watch Hill is only about a one-hour drive from campus. Not only is it fun to find Taylor Swift’s house and take in its beauty, but the area of Watch Hill itself is also really pleasant. Swift doesn’t seem to spend a ton of time there, but there have been stories of fans running into her parents at local restaurants. I would definitely recommend making the trip to see the house and experience all that Watch Hill has to offer!

Hannah is a sophomore at Brown from the D.C. area in Virginia. She is concentrating in public policy.
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