Real Estate / Mansions

Jay Leno Buys a Texas Socialite Legend’s Old Oceanfront Mansion for a Bargain $13.5 Million

The Hurricane Hut Goes Hollywood

BY // 12.06.17
photography Courtesy of Lila Delman Real Estate

Jay Leno and his wife, Mavis have purchased Seafair, a sprawling Newport estate which once belonged to late, legendary Dallas socialite and arts patron, Betty Blake. The comedian and former host of the Tonight Show paid the “modest” price of $13.5 million for the historic property, which was previously listed at $17.5 million, according to Realtor.com.

The 15,841-square-foot mansion sits on a nine-acre oceanfront lot in Rhode Island’s toniest beach town. It was built in 1936 by English architect William Mackenzie, for Denver mining heir, banker and diplomat Verner Zevola Reed Jr.

Betty Blake, born into a family of Philadelphia aristocrats, spent many summers in Newport, and even held her opulent coming-out ball in the coastal town. She set roots in Texas with her third husband, Jock McLean, owner of Global Aircraft Corporation in Fort Worth. Blake is credited with bringing Dallas one of its first modern art galleries – a boundary-pushing space which closed shortly after opening – and founding the Dallas Museum of Contemporary Arts (which merged with the Dallas Museum of Art).

However, she always thought of Newport as home and Jock purchased Seafair for the family.

The French chateau-style home has a unique crescent shape which hugs the coastline, making it especially vulnerable to the elements, and giving it the nickname Hurricane Hut. Betty braved many storms in the stately fortress, despite warnings – though, on one occasion, several of her servants drowned trying to evacuate.

She later sold Seafair, but continued to split her time between Texas and Newport until passing away in 2016 at the age of 100.



The storied manse boasts a gated entrance, eight bedrooms, 11 bathrooms, gardens, an infinity pool, a tennis court, a private beach, a carriage cottage and a six-car garage. The large garage and 20 additional onsite parking spots will come in handy for Leno, who collects antique cars.

Take a virtual tour of Seafair through the video below: 

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