Home Blog Celebrities with homes in Rhode Island: Taylor Swift, Jay Leno, Conan – The Providence Journal

Celebrities with homes in Rhode Island: Taylor Swift, Jay Leno, Conan – The Providence Journal


For a small state, Rhode Island has a lot of grand real estate.  
A playground for the rich and the famous during the Gilded Age, the shorelines are dotted with mansions. Some of them are tourist attractions, but others are still functioning vacation homes for today’s elite.  
From the mansions of Newport to more casual homes in Watch Hill and Warwick, here are seven homes that are owned by some well-known celebrities.  
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A big star with a big reputation, Taylor Swift is arguably the most well-known of Rhode Island’s celebrities. Dubbed the “Holiday House,” the Watch Hill mansion was bought by Swift in 2013, complete with an Olympic-sized swimming pool and a past that ties it to the Standard Oil fortune. The songwriter spun the story of the house’s past — and the divorcee who lived there, Rebekah Harkness — into the song “Great American Dynasty” in her eighth studio album, “Folklore.”  
In this era, the house pops up on social media often in the summertime. It was the spot of her much-talked-about Fourth of July parties from 2013 to 2017, and last summer Blake Lively posted photos of herself and husband Ryan Reynolds visiting there.  
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It’s well known around these parts that comedian Conan O’Brien is a New Englander, with a Boston, Irish Catholic background and a Harvard degree to boot. Slightly less known is that his family has a vacation home in Watch Hill, which the “Conan” host bought in 1997.  
In 2014, there was a kerfuffle involving Westerly putting his house up for auction due to him owing $8,000 in back taxes, but it was quickly resolved when the taxes were paid. O’Brien’s publicist said it was due to a clerical error. At the time, the house was worth $723,000.  
These days, people sometimes spot him walking around Westerly during the summertime.  
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Comedian Jay Leno isn’t necessarily known for being a gilded mansion kind of guy, but he has one — Seafair, on Ocean Drive in Newport.  
Leno lives primarily on the West Coast, but, like Conan, he was born in raised in Massachusetts and has family on the East Coast. On a visit to Newport in 2017, he was driving with his wife along Ocean Drive, saw the house they had once admired 30 years ago, pulled over, found out it was for sale, and bought it with everything inside for $15 million. When telling this story to a USA Today network reporter in 2019, he said getting the house with everything in it was a big selling point, as it ensured he would never have to spend time thinking about fabric swatches, which he described as a nightmare.  
He estimated he spent 19 days at Seafair in 2019, but when he is in town, he is often spotted out and about. He’s tested new material at the Firehouse Theatre, has attended Audrian’s Concours + Motor Week, and has been known to get lunch downtown. 
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After 25 years of being television royalty, Judge Judy Sheindlin bought a house fit for the title in 2018 for her and her husband, Judge Jerry Sheindlin. The Newport mansion, called Bird House, on Beacon Hill Road has six bedrooms and six bathrooms and features grand views of the outside.  
Front and center are the ocean views, of course, but also the garden, which was carefully cultivated by the home’s previous owner, late Campbell Soup heiress Dorrance H. Hamilton, who was known for her love of gardens and helped start the Newport Flower Show.  
Sheindlin seems to like the Ocean State. This past year, she received permission from the General Assembly to marry her grandson in the state, though interestingly, instead of hosting the affair on her 3.67-acre grounds, she performed the wedding at the Weekapaug Inn in Westerly.  
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It’s not a mansion, but the 223-year-old house Vanessa Carlton bought in Warwick in 2020 is stunning.  
The “A Thousand Miles” singer has been posting snapshots of her family’s circa 1803 Federal Colonial home on Instagram since 2021. The singer, who owns the Pawtuxet Village home with her husband, Deer Tick front man John McCauley, closed on the house in April 2021 after seeing “the house on Zillow during the winter and deciding to go for it.” After a year of renovations, she created a home truly magazine-worthy, with a feature in Architectural Digest to prove it. 
The studio space — which she had to petition the City of Warwick for a variance to build — is seen in the backdrop of her announcement about her 2023 “Future Pain” Tour that kicks off in March.  
More:How an unlikely group of neighbors in Warwick are fighting to keep a walking trail open to the public.
A Rhode Island native, 75-year-old actor James Woods still lives in his home state.
Unlike those who have chosen an ocean view, Woods lives on the edge of Boone Lake in Exeter. The land, not far from the Arcadia Management Area, has been owned by his family for decades.
The property has been as controversial as the two-time Oscar nominee’s politics. He put the house up for sale in 2017, but in December he was embroiled in a conflict with the town when he challenged his neighbor’s plans to build a home on the edge of Boone Lake.
Actor Christopher Walken keeps a relatively low profile, but he’s had a vacation home on Block Island since 1999, when he bought it for a little more than $1 million. The Oscar winner is sometimes spotted out and about in New Shoreham.
In November, he purchased another lot on the island for just over $1.4 million.



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