A Newport Story: The Horse in the Foyer

A Cautionary Tale: Don’t bring the horse in the house.

Like many historic towns, Newport, RI has a rich oral history. My father in law, the late John Hogan, was a great story teller.  In addition to being a life long Newporter, he worked for many years as a docent in the mansions. Tales about Newport families – wealthy ones and everyday people – would just spill out of him whenever we visited. I wish he had been a blogger because many of those stories will be lost over time. Here’s one of his more memorable urban legends:

Sometime in the last mid-century, a family lived in a big, beautiful house on Old Beach Road in the Kay Catherine section of Newport.  They had a barn out back where the family horse resided.  One exceptionally cold Christmas Eve, the family took pity on the creature and decided he would be happier in the house.  The children ran out to the barn and led the horse through the front door.  As the unsuspecting animal stepped into the entry foyer, all four legs descended through the lovely hardwood floors leaving him suspended by his belly.  

After several unsuccessful attemts to extricate the poor beast, the family called the Newport Fire Department. They eventually managed to lift him out using a canvas sling. Perhaps the family was inspired by Doris Duke’s habit of bringing her camels inside when the weather got stormy.  Legend has it there was some egg nog involved, and the horse was fine.

If you remember this tale or have another Newport story, please add it below so it won’t be forgotten.