Swiss Village in Newport RI: 11th Hour Racing


NEWPORT – The organization behind 11th hour of racing takes over the historic Swiss Village and the surrounding 43.3 acres from the Swiss Village Foundation after its sponsors paid a total of $ 8.65 million for the property.

The new operator of the land is called Ocean Hour Farm, represented by Rob MacMillan of Newport, co-founder and president of 11th Hour Racing. This organization is the title sponsor of the team led by sailors Charlie Enright and Mark Towill who will participate in the Ocean Race around the world in 2022-2023.

Part of the team’s mission is to engage fans on the themes of the climate crisis, ocean health and sustainability. The name on the keel of his Imoca 60 racing sailboat is #Oceanhour.

The Daily News was hoping to talk to MacMillan in detail about Ocean Hour Farm’s plans for Swiss Village, but he declined in an email.

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“We are very happy that Ocean Hour Farm can be the next steward of the property,” MacMillan wrote. “We are not currently doing any interviews as this is a brand new project and we have a lot to learn, but as stated we plan to use it as a demonstration of regenerative agriculture and are proud to have a relationship with Aquidneck Land Trust.

“Our goal is to ensure that it remains an integral part of the Newport community and can be a place that all of us who live here relate to.”

The sale of the property of the SVF Foundation is recorded in two separate acts in town hall.

One deed covers the 32.33 acres of property where the buildings of the Swiss village are located. This property sold for $ 6.05 million. The Aquidneck Land Trust has a conservation easement on 25 of those acres, said Chuck Allott, executive director of the Aquidneck Land Trust. A press release issued last week incorrectly listed 24 acres, he said.

“This easement is a little different because it reserves both an agricultural use and an educational and scientific component for owners, but it remains nonetheless binding for development,” said Allot. “The buildings and the driveway are outside the conservation area, but they must meet the standards of the historic district.”

Swiss village farm in Newport.

“There is a barn and a few farm feed stall structures on the 25 acres,” he added.

History of Swiss Village property

This property was once part of the Beacon Hill Estate of Arthur curtiss james, the railroad baron who eventually acquired 125 acres starting in 1908. James established Surprise Valley, a model Swiss farm, on his estate which also included other homes for guests and relatives.

He employed more than 200 people to maintain the buildings and take care of the livestock and acres of vegetable gardens.

“This is a very cool property with its past history in Newport,” said Allott. “Because the Swiss Village Foundation had allowed people to come to the property once a year, Newport really knows it. I think that makes it more interesting. Anytime we can keep a property of this size in Newport today, it’s amazing. There aren’t many left like that. We’re really excited about this.

Hammersmith Farm was once owned by the Auchincloss family

The second deed covers 11 acres and was once part of the Hammersmith Farm which was owned by Janet and Hugh Auchincloss, according to the deed document. This property was sold for $ 2.6 million and the Aquidneck Land Trust does not have a conservation easement on this property, Allott said.

Eric and Wendy Schmidt

The buyer of the larger property is listed as Hour Glass Farm LLC, and the buyer of the old Hammersmith property is listed as Our Glass Farm LLC (not a typo, the Registrar of the Land Evidence Office). The addresses of the two limited liability companies are at Hillspire LLC, Palo Alto, California.

Hillspire is the “integrated family office management company serving all of Eric and Wendy Schmidt’s businesses,” according to the company’s online profile. Eric Schmidt is a former CEO of Google.

11th Hour Racing is part of the Eric and Wendy Schmidt network which includes The 11th Hour Project and the Schmidt Family Foundation, which has assets of over $ 1 billion and chaired by Wendy Schmidt. She is a businesswoman and yacht owner with a deep interest in ocean health and sustainability practices.

Another of the beneficiaries of 11th Hour Racing locally, in addition to the sailing team, is Clean Ocean Access for its Healthy Soils, Healthy Seas Initiative focused on composting.

“We are delighted to see Ocean Hour Farm arrive on Aquidneck Island, and taking a first step in land conservation sends the right message that improving the health of the oceans begins on land,” Dave McLaughlin, said the co-founder of COA. “Regenerative agriculture is an important practice and demonstrating its benefits locally will help build momentum. We look forward to helping out and finding the best ways to get involved as Ocean Hour Farm comes to life. “

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“We are honored to build on the legacy of the SVF Foundation and to serve as future stewards of this unique and beautiful land,” MacMillan said in the initial press release announcing the sale.

The SVF Foundation is a non-profit organization founded by Dorrance “Dodo” Hamilton and has been operating since 2002 on the two historic Harrison Avenue properties.

Dorrance 'Dodo' Hamilton established the SVF Foundation in Swiss Village in 2002.

“SVF will donate the proceeds from the sale of the property to the Hamilton Family Charitable Trust which will be used for charitable purposes on Aquidneck Island, continuing the Hamilton family’s commitment to the community,” said the announcement. the sale.

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Newport City Council member Kathryn Leonard spoke to Matt Hamilton, son of Dorrance Hamilton, about the sale of the land and the proceeds “will be used to benefit the Newport projects,” she said. “Dodo Hamilton created a Newport Improvement Foundation of which his daughter Margaret and I were co-trustees. These funds were used to create the Harbor Walk in King Park, to install historic fences around Aquidneck Park, to provide play equipment in some parks and for several other projects.

The 15 buildings currently on the site of the Swiss Village Foundation include animal facilities, a procedures laboratory, an infirmary, a cryo-room, offices and residences.

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The organization announced last week that it had “completed its 20-year mission of cryopreserving the genetics of rare and endangered domestic livestock breeds.”

SVF worked with the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. They collected and cryopreserved more than 100,000 samples of genetic material (sperm and embryos), blood and somatic cells from more than 1,100 animals, representing 36 breeds, according to the foundation.

The SVF Foundation's biological repository of genetic material was housed in a state-of-the-art laboratory and cryogenics facility.

During the project, SVF thawed embryos of about 30 of the cryopreserved breeds, which were then transferred to surrogate mothers, proving, at birth, the viability of the collection process. This treasure trove of genetic material now resides at the Dorrance Hamilton Cryo Conservation Laboratory at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia.

“The goals of the SVF Foundation have been met and it is time to preserve the property and hand it over to a new manager,” SVF Executive Director Peter Borden said in a written statement.


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