Jessica and Martin Crimmins adored their home in Boston’s lauded Beacon Hill neighborhood. The two enjoyed every aspect their historic nest in one of the city’s oldest communities, all surrounded by the electric energy of bustling Beantown. But after 20 years there, the couple sought a coastal escape not too far from home. “I saw ads for Carnegie Abbey marketed as a sporting club probably ten years ago in Boston Magazine. We went for a full tour and fell in love with the club,” explains Jessica. They joined in 2009.
The premier private golf and sporting club in Portsmouth offers a rolling green links-style course, restaurant/sporting lounge/clubhouse, golf shop, fitness center and spa overlooking Narragansett Bay, as well as tennis courts, a cabana-lined outdoor pool and an Olympic-style equestrian center, all surrounded by bucolic riding trails. Founded by British developer Brian O’Neill, whose properties are known for their luxurious touch, the family reveled in the club’s amenities and made lasting friendships.
Their weekend jaunts to “the island” would include exploring neighborhoods to perhaps consider as a future home so that they and their daughter could enjoy the spoils of both city and sea. Nothing seemed a good fit until they learned in 2011 that Brian was planning an adjoining residential sister community with a variety of living options: condominiums, townhomes and single-family homes.
Then the Crimminses did something that turned heads: they bought a lot without a single other buyer committed to the project. And the first look wasn’t too promising. “There was this metal fence surrounding the property and we drove down this dirt road. Then we came to the view and we thought, ‘This is amazing!’ We were the very first buyers,” says Jessica in a proud tone. “We thought, ‘Wow, we could do this.’ But to do it, we really shook up our lives.”
With their careers in Boston and two decades spent living there, the couple says they re-examined what they wanted now and what they wanted long-term. It’s not so unusual for families to live full-time in a home then have a second, usually smaller, vacation home. From ski chalets to coastal condos, most second home properties are seen as an investment and a place to relax and unwind. Oftentimes, décor is an afterthought; with second homes, location is king. The Crimminses, however, took a step back to look at things entirely differently. “Our number one priority was to not have ‘just a beach house,’” Jessica says. The couple decided to pull the trigger and put their beloved 200-year-old Beacon Hill home on the market. It sold in three days. Things suddenly got real, and got real fast. But they were prepared.
“We did quite a bit of research and planning before deciding to buy a lot and build in the later part of 2012,” explains Jessica. Regardless, being the first to invest in a new development during a decade that had experienced a roller coaster real estate market is a brave move, but the Crimminses were confident it was the right decision for their family, deciding to functionally divide time between Portsmouth and Boston. Flipping the typical “second home” model around, the Crimminses made their Newport Beach Club home the larger of the two and purchased a comfortable but smaller condominium in Boston. The result has been even more than they could have hoped for.
“We split our time [between the two],” says Jessica. “We literally go back and forth all the time, which I have down to a science. I should literally write a book about it!” The family soaks up all the charmed possibilities living in Newport County affords, including days spent at the beach, Saturday afternoons at nearby Glen Farm for the Newport International Polo Series, concerts, festivals and more. “The amount of wardrobe changes I have on a weekend in the summer is crazy,” she says laughing. On a recent summer weekend, she says, they enjoyed the opening night concert of the legendary Newport Jazz Festival at the International Tennis Hall of Fame, went running on trails at the club, played tennis with friends and neighbors, hit the pool, had a blast at polo (Newport Beach Club is an event sponsor so they were surrounded by many neighbors), attended a cocktail party in Newport, celebrated a baby shower in the neighborhood and finished the weekend by hosting a dinner party. Après party, the family headed to Boston, and while that might sound like a haul, the Crimminses have the weekend wrap-up routine down to a science. “We have a system: dog in the car, kid in the car, bags, etc. It takes coordination, but we really love splitting our time between the two. We made it to Boston in an hour.”
But other weekends aren’t, or don’t have to be, as demanding. “You can be as plugged into everything you want or as private as you want. You can take advantage of the activities, go sailing or paddle boarding, or you can just be too exhausted from your work week and sit back with The New York Times and enjoy the house,” adds Jessica.
Unlike many gated communities, Newport Beach Club isn’t specifically tailored to the “55 plus” demographic. “Kids, no kids, younger, older, married, single… There are younger couples say in their 30s or 40s and the children’s grandparents might also have a home here.”
City or coast? The Crimmins family seemes to have discovered the best of both worlds.