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Home Design Goals: Living History

Perry Raso’s sea captain’s home in Matunuck is a reflection of his past, future and ocean-loving life

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Perry Raso might just be the best known aqua-farmer in all of Rhode Island. At the tender age of 12, he started digging littlenecks in Point Judith Pond, wild harvesting all sorts of sea life to turn into savory treats. “The first time I went in Potter Pond, I followed someone who was diving for steamers,” he says. “He stopped his boat, anchored and started reading the newspaper. I apprehensively asked him where a good place to dive for steamers might be, and he directed me to a cove where he dug the day before. That cove is the shore of Captain Potter’s property and I never realized then that I would live there decades later.”

Perry’s childhood hobby turned into a career after he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from URI in aquaculture and fisheries technology. In 2002, he spotted the perfect docks on Potter Pond in East Matunuck to serve as the base for his oyster farm dream. The docks happened to be attached to a ramshackle restaurant, but he’d figure that part out later. Matunuck Oyster Farm would come to occupy a seven-acre commercial aquaculture lease, and Perry’s Matunuck Oyster Bar opened in 2009, but don’t let his leadership position fool you – he is still on the water almost daily. After hours and hours of tending to oyster cages as well as his newer addition of farm-raised bay scallops, Perry is ready to relax in his old captain’s home – a place seemingly perfect for this sustainable shellfish advocate. The living room is his sanctuary. “What I love about the room is imagining all the people that have been through the room over the years,” he says. “The house is adjacent to an old post road named Old Salt Pond Road and there is a hitching post right outside the windows.” He has heard through the years that the house once had a counterfeiting machine in it, and there are some peculiarities that only an old home can proffer. “There is a stone wall in the water adjacent to the dock in the southwest corner of the property. That inwater rock wall was used as a fish pound to store and/or trap fish in before the days of adequate refrigeration,” he explains. One may think being surrounded by such an estuarine environment only evokes serenity, but for Perry, it’s just the opposite. “People often suggest that I must wake up in the morning and look out the window and think about how lucky I am, but that is not the case,” he admits. “Waking up and going home to the house is an incredible step back in time. It offers amazing views of the vegetable fields [of his Matunuck Vegetable Farm] and the pond, but it also serves as a reminder to me all the work that there is to get done.”