Easton’s Beach Rotunda & Carousel

A set of builings to support beachgoers deemed unfit and unsafe due to repeated ocean storms that have been increasing in intensity

About this Property

Reason for Demolition

Easton’s Beach facilities are made up of a few structures. There is an octagonal building that houses a historic carousel, the Rotunda Ballroom building, another octagonal building housing the Beach Snack Bar on the 2nd floor and a surf shop on the ground floor, and a series of changing rooms, showers, and bathrooms. Most of the buildings are elevated one story above the ground to allow powerful storm surges to flow under the buildings.

The carousel building, snack bar, and bathhouses were built after 1991’s Hurricane Bob swept through the area. The previous nearly 300 bathhouses were destroyed, all of which had asbestos roofs.1 They were rebuilt by 1993.2 A total cost of $5 million in damages was reported for Newport’s Cliff Walk and these Easton’s Beach facilities.3

When our photos were taken, the changing rooms were not fenced off like the other structures, but the boardwalk connecting them to the Snack Bar and Rotunda was being cut down. According to a statement released by a Newport City Councilor, the bathhouses will remain in place but will not be in use for the 2024 season.4

The Carousel horses date back to around 1954 and are mounted on a central steel column independent of the deterioration around it. The second-story concrete platform around the Carousel, though, is held up by emergency supports and the building has been closed to the public for a few years.5 The carousel itself will be saved by removing it and storing it until a new home can be constructed.6

DBVW Architects and Yoder+Tidwell engineering documented the seriously deteriorated condition of these buildings in a report titled “Easton’s Beach Pavilions: Evaluation of Existing Conditions with Recommendations” released in June 2021. The report stated that the oldest structure, the Rotunda building circa 1940, could be saved. Any replacement would need to incredibly resilient to climate change, rising sea levels, and more frequent and more powerful storms.7

For the upcoming season, and perhaps permanently, food trucks have been invited to supply beach-goers with refreshments.8 There is no word in the reporting as to what will be in place for temporary restrooms.

The lack of conversation around these decisions left many in the Newport community stunned, including the owner of the snack bar business. The sole dissenting vote for demolition came from City Councilor David R. Carlin III, who released a statement admonishing the city for a lack of foresight, saying “this is the result of poor planning. The City should have seen this coming. During the last two or three years it should have developed a rational plan for beach improvement.”9

Current Events

The buildings are currently fenced off and awaiting the wrecking ball (April 2024).

In the News

by Christian Winthrop
Newport Buzz | December 30, 2003

In a deeply disappointing move, the City of Newport has quietly issued a Request for Proposal (RFP), inviting bids for the demolition of the historic Easton’s Beach Snack Bar and Carousel.

The RFP specifies that the demolition should be completed before the 2024 beach season.

With origins tracing back to 1954 for the Carousel and post-Hurricane Bob in 1991 for the Snack Bar, these structures hold historical value for the city.

This decision deals a significant blow to the beach and is likely to mark the end of the best twin lobster rolls in Rhode Island.

Barry Botelho, the proprietor of the Easton’s Beach Snack Bar, was informed of this development late last week.

In 2023, Easton’s Beach Snack Bar employed over 40 employees, many of whom had their first jobs there.

“This will undoubtedly disappoint many people, but apparently, you can’t fight City Hall,” commented Botelho.

The estimated cost for replacing the three buildings, which have been deemed unsafe, is expected to surpass $30 million, contingent upon approval by the voters, should the City Council choose that course of action.

With this unfolding development, Easton’s Beach is on track to become one of the least favored beaches in the state.

The absence of plans in Newport to replace both the structures and the associated jobs should be viewed as a significant failure on the part of city leadership.

Captured 26 April 2024 from https://www.thenewportbuzz.com/historic-loss-looms-newports-eastons-beach-snack-bar-carousel-and-rotunda-to-be-demolished-this-spring/46350

  1. FLEMING, PEYTON. “HURRICANE BOB Hurricane damage forces closing of most area beaches for summer.” Providence Journal (RI), EAST BAY ed., sec. NEWS, 23 Aug. 1991, pp. C-01. NewsBank: America’s News, https://infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/openurl?ctx_ver=z39.88-2004&rft_id=info%3Asid/infoweb.newsbank.com&svc_dat=NewsBank&req_dat=D4BD6B42F1AB4706B5E1244D477DEE03&rft_val_format=info%3Aofi/fmt%3Akev%3Amtx%3Actx&rft_dat=document_id%3Anews/1525B90451C3F558. Accessed 26 Apr. 2024. 

  2. “Parking and changing facilities are available at Easton Beach.” Providence Journal (RI), EAST BAY ed., sec. EAST BAY II, 26 Mar. 1992, pp. Z-02. NewsBank: America’s News, https://infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/openurl?ctx_ver=z39.88-2004&rft_id=info%3Asid/infoweb.newsbank.com&svc_dat=NewsBank&req_dat=D4BD6B42F1AB4706B5E1244D477DEE03&rft_val_format=info%3Aofi/fmt%3Akev%3Amtx%3Actx&rft_dat=document_id%3Anews/1525B8679976F390. Accessed 26 Apr. 2024. 

  3. FREDERIKSEN, ROBERT C. “ANNIVERSARY Hurricane Bob was a blast: Losses a year ago totaled more than $100 million.” Providence Journal (RI), ALL ed., sec. NEWS, 19 Aug. 1992, pp. A-03. NewsBank: America’s News, https://infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/openurl?ctx_ver=z39.88-2004&rft_id=info%3Asid/infoweb.newsbank.com&svc_dat=NewsBank&req_dat=D4BD6B42F1AB4706B5E1244D477DEE03&rft_val_format=info%3Aofi/fmt%3Akev%3Amtx%3Actx&rft_dat=document_id%3Anews/15251149AAC2E640. Accessed 26 Apr. 2024. 

  4. Winthrop, Christian. “Newport Councilor David Carlin Expresses Disappointment with Easton’s Beach Demolition Plan.” Newport Buzz, https://www.thenewportbuzz.com/newport-councilor-david-carlin-expresses-disappointment-with-eastons-beach-demolition-plan/48465. Accessed 26 Apr. 2024. 

  5. Flynn, Sean. “Contract for Easton’s Beach replacement building in the works.” Newport Daily News, 18 January 2022. https://www.newportri.com/story/news/local/2022/01/18/newport-contract-architect-new-eastons-beach-building-to-replace-carousel-and-snack-bar-buildings/6529444001/. Accessed 26 Apr. 2024. 

  6. Dunning, Savana. “‘We’re moving forward‘: Officials detail decision to demolish Easton’s Beach buildings.” Newport Daily News, https://www.newportri.com/story/news/local/2024/01/05/eastons-beach-buildings-will-be-demolished-newport-officials-confirm/72107488007/. Accessed 26 Apr. 2024. 

  7. “Contract for Easton’s Beach replacement building in the works.” 

  8. “‘We’re moving forward‘: Officials detail decision to demolish Easton’s Beach buildings.” 

  9. “Newport Councilor David Carlin Expresses Disappointment with Easton’s Beach Demolition Plan.”