History Bytes: Theophilus North’s Nine Cities of Newport, Part 6

March 6, 2019

The following History Byte is the sixth of a nine-part series. Click here to read them all.

The Sixth City referenced in Thornton Wilder’s Theophilus North consisted of “the very rich, the empire-builders” who built their grand summer cottages along Bellevue Avenue. The man largely responsible for paving the way for the development of what would become the summer neighborhood of some of America’s wealthiest families was Alfred Smith, a tailor turned speculator and real estate developer. In 1839 Smith began to purchase and develop land in the Kay-Catherine neighborhood and along Bellevue Avenue. It was Alfred Smith and his business partner Joseph Bailey who extended Bellevue Avenue, purchased and developed Bailey’s Beach, and developed Ocean Drive.

Image: Ocean drive, circa 1890. NHS, P5640.