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The House on McCorrie Lane – a personal narrative

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Stonehill chapter.

Last semester I took a Journalism Narrative Writing class with my favorite professor – Professor Boyle. It was an awesome class because we got to read true-crime books. My two favorites were The Ghost: The Murder of Police Chief Greg Adams and the Hunt for His Killer by Maureen Boyle and In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. After learning about non-fiction narrative writing we experimented with the writing style. At first, I struggled because I was so used to writing news stories, where everything is straight to the point. Most paragraphs are less than three sentences and there is little to no creativity involved. Narrative writing is very descriptive, you want to show the reader, not tell them. It felt like a whole new language, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from succeeding.

Professor Boyle assigned us to write an original narrative about anything for our final. I knew exactly what I wanted to write about: my childhood home! I had made a short film about the house a couple of months prior for my film class and loved how that turned out. I wanted to write something to honor the house I lived in for over 17 years. I wanted to have some kind of keepsake even after it sells. I’m proud of how the piece turned out, so I wanted to share it with you all! I hope you enjoy it!

Visit my portfolio website to see the film version of The House on McCorrie Lane:


The House on mccorrie lane

With a population of about 17,000, Portsmouth is a relatively small town located in Rhode Island on the northern tip of Aquidneck Island. Just south is Middletown – in the middle of the island – and at the southern end of the island is the city of Newport. The three towns on the island occupy 37.8 square miles of land, all connected to the mainland via three bridges. The Newport Pell Bridge – the highest and scariest – connects Newport to Jamestown, Rhode Island, while the other two bridges enter Portsmouth. The Mount Hope Bridge connects Bristol to Portsmouth and the Sakonnet River Bridge connects Tiverton to Portsmouth. Aquidneck Island is best known as a popular tourist spot with Newport being the home of The International Tennis Hall of Fame as well as stunning beaches.

Established in 1638, the town of Portsmouth has a rich history, but this story doesn’t go back that far. According to historical records and obituaries, the Ferreira family began farming a large parcel of land in Portsmouth sometime between 1910 and 1919. Growing “staple” vegetables were out of the question, as the land was – and still is – on a downslope leading to the Sakonnet River, and as such never dried out completely. After approximately 50 years of tending the land, it went fallow. The older couple owned a house overlooking the land and refused to sell the land to builders. The Ferreira family quarreled over the use of the land for many years.

Finally, in 2003 the older couple budged and allowed for roughly two acres to be sold, while the rest of the land would remain untouched. Kenko Builder Inc. acquired the three, one-half acre parcels of land on the edge of the former farm facing McCorrie Lane. The builder envisioned three colonial homes on the land which for generations helped feed the island’s inhabitants. The three homes went up quickly. Although not the main thruway, McCorrie Lane was a busy street, with neighborhoods branching off from it, and a beach at the end of the street. New houses were being constructed in these smaller neighborhoods up and down the street, with young families moving in as fast as they could be built. 

In 2003, U.S. Navy Commander Jim Lewis and his wife Diane – along with eight-year-old son Sean and five-year-old daughter Kelly – were stationed in Dahlgren, Virginia when he received orders from the Navy to report to the Naval Station Newport in Rhode Island in June 2004. This came as no surprise, as the family had lived in Dalghren for two years, and most Navy tours averaged three years in length. The Lewis family lived by a common phrase familiar to many in the Navy: “Home is where the Navy sends us.” At the time Jim and Diane thought nothing of the upcoming move, knowing it was what had to be done.

Although used to moving every three years, the Lewis family was going to do something different. For the first time, they were going to purchase a home. In the past they simply rented or lived in base housing, preferring not to invest in a home knowing that three years later they would have to move again. This move, however, was different. Jim had served in the Navy for close to 20 years and was eligible to retire if he chose.

“We decided to purchase because we knew this would most likely be my last tour in the Navy and we wanted to stay in the same town,” Jim said.

They both said they could see themselves living in Rhode Island for many years. They were both native New Englanders: Diane grew up in Quincy, Massachusetts, and summered on the Cape while Jim grew up in Stonington, Connecticut. A house to call a home for longer than three years seemed appealing to the couple. The children would get to grow up near their cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents, as well as stay in one school system until graduation from high school – something important to Jim and Diane.

“We wanted our kids to have a stable and normal life, we didn’t want to make them move from school to school and make new friends every couple of years,” Diane said.

It was at this point that the Lewis family crossed paths with Kenko Builder Inc. Jim said the Navy gave him a week off to go house hunting in Rhode Island in February of 2004. So, the Lewis family packed into their old black beat-up Ford Explorer SUV that had served them well over the years and drove over 500 miles north. The goal was to find a newly-constructed home – Diane had always wanted a brand new home – in either Portsmouth or Middletown.

Diane was discouraged at first, with prices sky-high and limited choices of the style of homes. They visited quite a few split-ranch houses, but she didn’t like the feel or setup of these houses.

“They were old, and it was weird that the kitchen was on the same level as the bedrooms. I couldn’t see myself living in one of those,” Diane said.

Based on a tip from a local real estate agent, the Lewis family drove to McCorrie Lane to see the three colonial-style homes Kenko had built. The couple said as soon as they saw the outside of the middle house, they knew that was the one. Unlike the other two, this one had a huge bay window in the living room window which faced the southern sky, letting in plenty of sunlight. Jim recalled the lot of land as a construction zone, with dirt, sand, and equipment on the property. At the time, the exterior was completely done with shingles, roofing, and doors, but the interior had missing pieces, lacking floors, kitchen counters, light fixtures, appliances, bare walls, all the kind of small features a homeowner decides upon. The house had a total of three bedrooms, perfect to accommodate the Lewis family. Sean would get one room, Kelly another, and Diane and Jim would get the master.

“At that point, we were sold,” said Jim. “It was everything we wanted, brand new, large, and plenty of room to grow a family in.”

The couple quickly signed a purchase agreement, told the builder their choices for the final touches to the interior, and drove back to Virginia. Married for 16 years and two kids later, this would be the first home the couples bought together.

Four months later, on June 1, 2004, Jim and Diane Lewis purchased 78 McCorrie Lane for $447,000. For the first time ever, the Lewis family had a place to call their own, after traveling and moving around since Jim had joined the Navy in 1985. It was a sigh of relief.

Flash forward and it is now 2022. The Lewis family has lived at 78 McCorrie Lane for 17 years. Along the way, Sean graduated from college and now lives and works in New York City. Kelly graduated from high school and is preparing to graduate from Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts while applying for jobs in Boston. Jim relocated to Alexandria, Virginia in April 2021 to start a new job, and Diane will follow him to Virginia in a few months. With all the changes, the Lewis family is ready for the biggest of them all – to officially put their house on the market and sell it.

With the end near, the Lewis family reflects on all the memories created in the house on McCorrie Lane. As L. Frank Baum once wrote in the Marvelous Land of Oz “Everything has to come to an end, sometime.”

Sean Lewis, now 25, describes the house on McCorrie Lane as a calm and safe place to fall back on. Even after moving out six years ago, he visits as often as he can. His favorite time to visit is in the summer, to escape the hot, muggy, overcrowded city and enjoy the beaches in Rhode Island.

“My favorite area in the house is definitely the back porch Dad built because it was a nice place for the family to come together during the summer and eat dinner while watching the sunset and the dog run around in the backyard,” Sean said.

Diane said her favorite spot in the house is the living room, located on the first story on the front right of the house with the bay window facing McCorrie Lane. She has many fond memories of her kids sitting on the couches watching PBS shows while waiting for the bus to bring them to school. She said they spent almost every Christmas morning opening presents in the living room.

Jim’s favorite part of the house is the bonus room, the space above the two-car garage with sky-light windows. This was the designated playroom for the kids, with board games, a television set, action figures, dolls, and all kinds of toys that filled the space. Jim recalls the kids inviting their friends upstairs over the years and the boys roughhousing.

“It’s amazing how the bonus room became like a four-season athletic facility in the sense that they would play football, baseball, basketball everything up in that small room and it could be turned into a wide-open field,” Jim said.

Kelly will miss her bedroom upstairs that sits in the back of the house overlooking the remainder of the Ferreira farm the most. For her tenth birthday, she got to pick out a paint color and paint the room with her parents. She chose a dark turquoise blue color to cover the walls and that remains the color to this day.

“I decorated my room the way I wanted to and I feel like it’s a calming and safe space for me,” Kelly said.

As the Lewis family grapples with this change, they know they are lucky for the 17 years of memories and love built in that one home. They remain positive, suspecting that another young family will potentially buy the home and go through the same experiences of raising a family in Portsmouth.

As Winnie the Pooh once said, “How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

Kelly Lewis

Stonehill '22

Kelly Lewis is a campus correspondent for the Stonehill Chapter. She is a senior at Stonehill College studying Communication and Journalism. She is from Portsmouth, RI. Kelly's hobbies include writing, working out, watching Disney movies, baking, and attempting DIY projects from Pinterest. One of Kelly's favorite activities is going to the beach with her friends. In the future, Kelly hopes to travel and blog her experiences!