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The House That Inspired a Taylor Swift Song
September 28, 2021

The House That Inspired a Taylor Swift Song

by The CE Shop Team

Swift Sings About the Former Owner of Her Rhode Island Mansion

In the years since Taylor Swift became a pop superstar, she has used her significant fortune to build an impressive real estate portfolio — and she even wrote a song about one of the properties for her 2020 album “folklore”.

Swift, who has released nine studio albums, including two in 2020, is in the process of re-recording her first six albums. It’s an effort to regain control of the music she created under Big Machine, her former record label, following a public dispute over ownership.

And while Swift has been planning her re-recording strategy and working hard in the studio, she’s been living in an impressive series of homes across New York, California, Tennessee, and Rhode Island, reportedly worth upwards of $80 million.

Swift’s Ode to Her Rhode Island Home

Image source: trulia

Swift bought her Watch Hill, Rhode Island, beach house in 2013, reportedly paying $17.75 million in an all-cash deal. The property, which is known as High Watch, is “a rambling, white clapboard 1920s ‘cottage’ that sprawls atop the bluff that gives this town its name,” The New York Times reported.

The mansion quickly became known as the site of the singer’s star-studded Fourth of July parties, but she also inspired a 2015 proposal by then-Gov. Gina Raimondo that would impose a tax on second homes worth over $1 million, Vulture reported. (The proposal, which became known as the “Taylor Swift tax,” was withdrawn.)

But Swift isn’t the home’s first famous owner whose presence proved to be polarizing among locals.

In “the last great american dynasty”, a song on Swift’s July 2020 album, “folklore”, she tells the tale of socialite and philanthropist Rebekah Harkness, who married William Hale Harkness, the heir to the Standard Oil fortune, in 1947. The couple purchased the Rhode Island beach house, where they threw extravagant parties before William’s untimely death in 1954, Vogue reports.

Rebekah Harkness became known for her outrageous antics and eccentric tendencies, including filling her pool with Dom Perignon. Swift sings about the town’s reaction to Rebekah: “There goes the most shameless woman this town has ever seen / She had a marvelous time ruinin' everything.”

Harkness was also a passionate patron of the ballet, and she hosted a ballet workshop at the Rhode Island estate for 20 dancers in 1965, according to Vogue.

Swift sings that Rebekah “filled the pool with champagne and swam with the big names / And blew through the money on the boys and the ballet / And losin' on card game bets with Dalí.”

That’s not all: “And in a feud with her neighbor / She stole his dog and dyed it key-lime green.” (In reality, it was a cat, The New York Times says.)

Swift said she first learned about Harkness while touring the house with a real estate agent.

“I got the house when I was in my early twenties as a place for my family to congregate and be together,” Swift told Entertainment Weekly. “I was told about her, I think, by the real estate agent who was walking us through the property. And as soon as I found out about her, I wanted to know everything I could. So, I started reading. I found her so interesting. 

“And then as more parallels began to develop between our two lives — being the lady that lives in that house on the hill that everybody gets to gossip about — I was always looking for an opportunity to write about her. And I finally found it.”

When entertaining visitors, Swift said she often gives elaborate tours of the house that include a different story about Harkness for every room.

“If you have a mixed group of people who've been there before and people who haven't, [the people who’ve been there] are like, ‘Oh, she's going to do the tour. She's got to tell you the story about how the ballerinas used to practice on the lawn,’” she told EW. “And they'll go get a drink and skip it because it's the same every time. But for me, I'm telling the story with the same electric enthusiasm, because it's just endlessly entertaining to me that this fabulous woman lived there.”

Toward the end of the song, Swift references purchasing the home: “Holiday House sat quietly on that beach / Free of women with madness, their men and bad habits / And then it was bought by me.”

Swift’s Real Estate Portfolio

Image source: trulia

High Watch is only one of Swift’s impressive properties. In fact, she reportedly also owns property in Nashville, Tennessee; Beverly Hills, California; and New York City.

Here’s an overview of her properties, which are worth an estimated $81 million in total, according to Business Insider:

  • In Nashville, Swift owns a 3,240-square-foot condo in Music Row, which has 3 bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms, as well as a 1934 Greek Revival estate, which features a 5,600-sq.-ft. main house with 4 bedrooms and 4½ bathrooms in addition to a pool and a 2,000-sq.-ft. guesthouse.
  • In Beverly Hills, Swift owns a 10,982-sq.-ft. 1934 Georgian Revival estate, which has 7 bedrooms and 10 bathrooms. In 2017, Swift successfully petitioned to have the property, which was previously home to Hollywood film producer Samuel Goldwyn, designated a historic city landmark.
  • In New York City, Swift owns a series of properties on the same block: two adjacent penthouses in a Tribeca building that she renovated into a 8,309-sq.-ft. duplex penthouse with 10 bedrooms and 10 bathrooms; a 3,540-sq.-ft. condo on the second floor of the same building; and a 5,148 sq.-ft., four-story townhouse next door.

What’s next? According to some reports, Swift could be looking for property in London so she can be near her boyfriend, British actor Joe Alwyn. And with a $30 million price range, how can she go wrong?

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Image source: Wikimedia Commons

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