The Towers was an integral element of the great Narragansett Pier Casino, designed by McKim, Mead & White, landscaped by Fredrick Olmstead, and constructed between 1883-1886 at the core of the thriving resort, where it instantly became the centerpiece of social activity. In those halcyon before the automobile stimulated a craze for unrestricted travel, tourists were accustomed to long, stationary vacations, and Narragansett, featuring 19 major luxury hotels, was a favored destination.
During the “Gay Nineties” The Narragansett Pier Casino functioned at the heart of life in Narragansett. “The Pier” ranked as one of America’s most-prestigious resorts. The Casino offered boating, billiards, bowling, cards, shooting, tennis and other sports. Further diversions included restaurants, stores, reading rooms, a theater, a bandstand and a ballroom. “Bathing” at the beach was limited to an hour or two midmorning before luncheon at the Casino. Dancing at one of the Casino’s frequent evening “hops” included “promenades” across The Towers arch.
The Great Fire of September 12, 1900 was perhaps the darkest day in the long history of Narragansett. Fire broke out in the Rockingham Hotel and spread quickly to the Casino. In a few short hours the wind-whipped flames desolated the center of town. The main, shingled Casino burned to the ground. Only the granite walls of The Towers remained. But Narragansett rallied and persevered. On July 8, 1905, a new casino, designed by McKim, Mead & White like its predecessor, opened. And by 1910, The Towers had been renovated.
The Towers has since survived calamitous 20th century events since the great conflagration of 1900. It was severely damaged again by fire in 1965. It has been battered cruelly by many nor-easters as well as the enormous hurricanes of 1938, 1954 and 1991 (each which decimated surrounding structures). On every occasion The Towers held fast, acquiring an almost-magical reputation for indestructibility – truly Narragansett’s good luck symbol. Today, superbly restored, The Towers revives the romance of the past with style and elegance.