The History of Cliffside Inn

Cliffside Inn, our historic Newport RI bed and breakfast, is an authentically restored Second Empire Victorian Manor House.  Built by Maryland Governor Thomas Swann c. 1876, the house was then known as “Swann Villa”.  During his lifetime, Thomas Swann was a railroad president, inventor, Baltimore Mayor, U.S. Congressman, and an ambassador. He was also elected to the U.S. Senate but decided not to serve because he did not want his position of Governor to be captured by a political foe.  The Swann family summered at Swann Villa until 1897.

For four years, from 1897-1901, Swann Villa was converted to a schoolhouse; the first home of St. Georges School, then a private prep school for boys. St. Georges later moved to its permanent campus, “on the Hill”, in nearby Middletown, RI, where it thrives today as a distinguished and world renowned co-ed prep school.

In 1907, the Turner family of Philadelphia bought Swann Villa and turned it back to a summer home; naming it Cliffside.  Andrew Turner was a successful cotton merchant and his wife Adele was a prominent Philadelphia socialite descendant from Jacob Shallus – the engrosser of the Constitution of the United States in 1787.  The Turner’s only child was Beatrice Turner, who would become an artist and a Newport Legend as a woman.  She was 18 years old in 1907 and summered at Cliffside until her death in 1948.Historic Newport RI Bed and Breakfast Innkeepers

The new owners of the Cliffside Inn, Bill and Nancy Bagwill, purchased the historic Newport RI bed and breakfast at the end of 2010 and invested significant time and resources both on a complete and detailed restoration of the inn and the creation of lovely new landscaped grounds.  The Cliffside Inn was fully reopened in August 2011.

The Cliffside Inn is comprised of 16 luxurious guest accommodations, 13 of which are part of the historic main house, and 3 suites which are located in the adjacent Seaview Cottage.