The steady, but unspectacular, growth of Narragansett, however, changed dramatically in 1848, when Joseph Heatly Dulles of Philadelphia (the great-grandfather of John Foster Dulles, President Eisenhower's cold-war secretary of state) visited Rowland G. Hazard of Peace Dale, a village nearby Narragansett. Dulles, a cotton broker, owned extensive properties in South Carolina, and Hazard, a textile mill owner, supplied him with cloth for his laborers.
During Dulles' sojourn in Peace Dale, Hazard entertained him with a sightseeing tour of the region. Dulles was immediately enthralled by the spectacular beauty of the Narragansett beach, which, until then, was familiar essentially only to the relatively few area residents. So taken was Dulles by this magnificent vision that he immediately booked all the rooms at Benjamin Hadwen's small local boarding house for himself, his family, and close friends for the following summer, an endeavor that became an annual event.
Dulles' fascination with the Narragansett beach stimulated so much tourist traffic that "Uncle Ezbon" S. Taylor opened the first real hotel - The Narragansett House - in 1856, catering largely to Dulles' family and friends from Philadelphia and New York. "Narragansett Pier's" reputation as a marvelous "watering place" spread quickly, and soon the town attracted well-to-do summer visitors from throughout the east. In view of the travel limitations of that time and the wealth of the visitors, most of these tourists came for the entire summer season, rather than just days or weeks.