Marshall Slocum Inn
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Category Archives: Newport Art and Culture

Celebrating Irish Heritage Month in Newport

February 27, 2015 by Marshall Slocum Inn

St. Patrick’s Day is one of the biggest and most looked forward to days for locals in Newport.  March is also Irish Heritage Month in Newport, and there will be various activities happening throughout the month in order to celebrate Newport’s Irish roots.  The highlight of these events is the 59th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which will be held on March 14th.  The parade lasts around 2 hours, starting at 11am at Newport City Hall.  Various Pipe Bands, Marching Bands, Clowns, reenactment units, local organizations, school and non-profits will be participating in this years parade.  Events start early in the morning for various Irish Breakfasts and continue well into the night.shield[1]

Many other Irish events will be taking place throughout the month.  Irish Heritage Months kicks off on March 1st with Dancing at the Forty Steps.  Live traditional music and dancing will be held here, weather permitting in order to honor the informal dances that were once held here by the Irish in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  Hour long guided tours of Fort Adams  discuss the importance of Irish labor in building the Fort in the 1800’s.  On Thames Street, the Museum of Irish History will be open for visitors who would like to learn about Irish immigration to Newport from the 1600’s to the present.  On March 7th, Viking Tours and the Museum of Irish History will be sponsoring the free Bus Tour of Irish History.  The tours begins at the Museum of Irish History and visits many locations important in the Irish History in Newport, such as the Forty Steps, Ochre Courts and the Barney Street Cemetery.

There will be various musical performances throughout the month including Traditional Irish Music at Fastnet Pub on the weekends.  There will also be Irish radio on various days during the month.

March is filled with many events to honor Newport’s rich Irish heritage.  Be sure to check out some of the events while you’re in town!


The Museum of Newport Irish History

September 19, 2014 by Marshall Slocum Inn

In June of 2011, The Museum of Newport Irish History Interpretive Center opened to the public.  Located in the best known Irish-American neighborhood in Newport, this museum teaches visitors about the Irish immigration to Newport County from the 1600’s to the present.  It showcases the many contributions made by Irish community members through a variety of exhibits.  The exhibits include maps, photographs, videos, and artifacts that display multiple aspects of the local Irish community.  They also have a display of Irish history and artifacts at the Fort Adams Visitors Center.  Every March, they also host a free bus tour, called “Irish Newport,” that takes visitors to various Irish related sites, including Fort Adams, the Forty Steps and the Barney Street Cemetery.

The Museum was founded by Vincent J. Arnold, whose passion for Irish History inspired the creation of this Museum as well as the Michael F. Crowley Lecture Series, which hosts five to six lectures per year on various Irish History and cultural topics.   He remained president of the Museum until his death in April, 2014.

This museum is open Thursdays through Sundays (12pm-5pm) starting in late May until late October.  It is located at 648 Lower Thames Streetimages[1]

The Hunter House

August 22, 2014 by Marshall Slocum Inn

The Hunter House, located in the Point District of Newport, is a great example of Georgian Colonial architecture from the mid-18th century.  This house was built during a time when religious tolerance attracted Quakers, Congregationalists, Jews and Baptists to the area.  The north half of the house was built between 1748 and 1754 by a prosperous merchant, Jonathan Nichols, Jr.  After his death, another deputy governor, Colonel Joseph Wanton, Jr. bought the property.  He added a south wing and second chimney to the house, which transformed it into a formal Georgian mansion, complete with a large central hall.

When Colonel Wanton fled Newport for his Loyalist sympathies during the American Revolution, his house was used as a headquarters for the French during their occupation of Newport is 1780.  After the war, William Hunter, a U.S. Senator acquired the house.  He sold the house in the mid 1860’s and it was passed through a variety of owners until the mid 1940’s, when a small group of concerned citizens purchased the house with the intention of preservation.  This group, led by Mrs. George Henry Warren formed the Preservation Society of Newport County and restored the Hunter House to the era of Colonel Wanton.

Today, visitors to the Hunter House can enjoy exhibits that showcase 18th century achievements in arts and crafts.  These exhibits include furniture by the Townsend-Goddard family, who were popular cabinetmakers during the colonial era. The house exhibits examples of the finest achievements in the arts and crafts of 18th century Newport. The house showcases Newport pewter and paintings by Gilbert Stuart, Cosmo Alexander and Samuel King. This house is also known for its woodwork, including a carved pineapple over the doorway, a sign of welcome.

The Hunter House became a National Historic Landmark on November 24th, 1968, and is open seasonally, June through October, for tours through the Preservation Society of Newport County.

Bristol’s Herreshoff Marine Museum

August 8, 2014 by Marshall Slocum Inn

It’s nothing new that Rhode Island and Aquidneck Island have a rich history in sailing, especially with the America’s Cup frequenting Newport.  The Herreshoff Manufacturing Company has played a major role in the manufacturing of a variety of vessels including eight consecutive defenders of the America’s Cup from the years 1893 to 1934.  They also manufactured the largest America’s Cup boat, the Reliance, Rhode Island’s oldest boat, Sprite, and the first United States Navy torpedo boats.

Due to their heavy involvement in much of Rhode Islands boating history, Herreshoff-Marine-Museum-logo[1]A. Sidney DeWolf Herreshoff and Rebecca Chase Herreshoff founded the Herreshoff Marine Museum in 1971 in order to preserve and spread the accomplishments of the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company.  The Museum showcases over sixty significant boats, including the Aria, a restored Buzzards Bay 25, Torch, a Fishers Island 31, Clara, and Thania, the 1905 motorlaunch.  The museum also displays hundreds of significant artifacts and memorabilia through a variety of changing exhibits.

In 1992, the Herreshoff Marine Museum added the America’s Cup Hall of Fame.  It was founded by Halsey Herreshoff who was a four-time America’s Cup defender.  The Hall of Fame honors those who have made extraordinary contributions to this yachting competition.  Almost 80 America’s Cup “legends” have been inducted into the America’s Cup Hall of Fame and include crew members, designers, builders and supporters who showed outstanding abilities, had international recognition, character, performance and contributions to the sport.

Both the Herreshoff Marine Museum and the America’s Cup Hall of Fame are located in Bristol, Rhode Island, a short drive from Newport and are open everyday from 10am to 5pm.



Newport Festivals Foundation: Jazz and Folk

July 25, 2014 by Marshall Slocum Inn

The Newport Jazz Festival and the Newport Folk Festival are two of the most popular festivals that happen in Newport every year.  Both festivals started in the 1950’s and attract thousands of people from all over to celebrate jazz and folk music.

George Wein produced the first Jazz Festival in 1954 and five years later, with the help of Pete Seeger, he founded Newport’s Folk Festival.  In 2010, Wein realized that the best chance for these festivals to continue after his passing was to create a non-profit corporation.  Since he’d been in the business for quite some time, running a for profit business, he knew the best way to keep his festivals alive was through grants and donations through foundations and fans.

The mission of the Newport Festivals Foundation is to maintain both the Jazz and Folk Festivals in perpetuity and to keep them at historic locations.  They want to present all forms of jazz and folk music from the past and present and showcase performers who recognize the freedom of creativity that is necessary to grow in these styles of music.  This foundation brings together traditional jazz and folk music with new contemporary versions of these styles.  Performers come from all over the world and this foundation hopes to create partnerships around the world.

The Newport Festivals Foundation also hopes to educate young people about these types of music through partnerships with local grade schools and universities.  In association with Salve Regina University (located in Newport), this foundation has put together an annual jazz workshop for high school students.  Most recently they have started a family concert at Fort Adams in order to introduce children to jazz and folk music.  The Newport Festivals Foundation also brings in local jazz bands to the Jazz Festival, which gives them a chance of a lifetime.

Thanks to George Wein, generations will be able to enjoy jazz and folk music for years to come.


Newport Antiques Show

July 18, 2014 by Marshall Slocum Inn

St. George’s School in Middletown will be hosting the Newport Antiques Show from July 25th through the 27th, with a Gala Preview Party kicking things off on July 24th.  This show began in 2007 and has become one of the nation’s premier antiques venues.  It showcases a wide variety of important American antiques from over forty of the top dealers in the country.  There will be a variety of paintings, folk art, jewelry, furniture and more on display over the weekend.  This show benefits both the Newport Historical Society and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Newport County.

The exhibit “Fifty Objects That Shaped Rhode Island History,” presented by both the Rhode Island and Newport Historical Societies, will be making its debut at this years Newport Antiques Show and will tell the story of Rhode Island’s founding through its 20th century history.  Themes such as tolerance and freedom, ingenuity and entrepreneurship, craftsmanship, immigration, revolution and the sea will be used to help share the story.  Some of the featured items are Roger William’s compass-sundial and the shirt worn by Governor Garrahy during the Blizzard of 1978.   On July 25th at 11am there will be a presentation called “Big History, Little State, Smaller Booth: 375 years in 50 objects.”  The objects in this exhibit will have been selected from thousands of objects, which takes a lot of thought, research and discussion.  At this presentation, Kirsten Hammersrom, the Director of Collections at the Rhode Island Historical Society, will be discussing the process used in selecting the items for the exhibit.

Some of the many exhibitors for the Newport Antiques Show include: Antique American Wicker, Sue Brown, Essex Antiquarians, J. Gallagher, Hanes & Ruskin, Hill-Stone, Inc., Johanna Antiques, Kelleher Fine Art, Leatherwood Antiques, Malcolm Magruder, Oriental Rugs Ltd., Rehs Gallery, Stephen Score Inc., Jayne Thompson Antiques, The Silver Vault, Jeffrey Tollou Antiques, Village Braider Antiques, Inc., White’s Nautical Antiques and many more.

Tickets are available for both the show and the Gala.  One day passes can be purchased, as well as a three day unlimited pass.

The 46th Newport Music Festival

July 11, 2014 by Marshall Slocum Inn

The Newport Music Festival has been around since 1969 and has produced over 2,100 concerts in a variety of venues throughout Newport, including the Preservation Society’s Historic Mansions.  They have brought over 1,000 artists to the stage, including over 100 who made their American debut.  While the first Music Festival took place in 1953, the festival as we know it today didn’t start until 1969, three years after the non-for profit, the Rhode Island Arts Foundation at Newport, Inc. was incorporated.

The early years of the Newport Music Festival were an important part of romantic revival and included many members of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.  They partnered with the Preservation Society of Newport County, which brought the music back to venues that it was created to play in.  Dr. Mark P. Malkovich III became the Festival’s General Director in 1975 and remained in the position until 2008 when his son, Mark Malkovich IV assumed the role.  Dr. Malkovich became well known for introducing young international artists and showcasing emerging American artists.stacks_image_3382[1]

The Newport Music Festival showcases music from the Romantic era (1820-1910), but has also expanded and includes a wide variety from Bach to Bernstein. This years festival will be held from July 11th through the 27th and will include 68 concerts, about 3-5 per day.  Morning concerts will be held at 11am, afternoon at 4pm, and nighttime performances will be held at 8pm or 9pm, depending on the location.  Concerts will include chamber music, ragtime and tango and several concerts will occur as tribute to the 150th anniversary of the German composer, Richard Strauss.  Around 80 musicians from 18 countries will be performing, 30 of which will be making their Newport debuts.  The festival will open on July 11th with the Hungarian pianist, Gergely Bogányi, and will end with a two piano, two percussion ensemble “extravaganza.”

Concerts will be held at a variety of locations including: Aldrich Mansion, Blithewold Mansion, the Newport Grand Events Center, Rosecliff, the Breakers, the Elms, Casino Theater, Redwood Library, CCRI, St. George’s School Chapel, Saint John the Evangelist, Edward King House, Touro Synagogue and the Newport Art Museum.


Newport Art Museum

June 6, 2014 by Marshall Slocum Inn

The Newport Art Museum, accredited fully by the American Association of Museums, holds collections and exhibitions that reflect Rhode Island’s cultural heritage and contemporary art scene.  They have been a cultural gathering place for over 100 years and have a reputation for high quality exhibitions and programs.  They are the only museum that focuses on the art and artists of Rhode Island.  They also have an art school, the Minnie and Jimmy Coleman Center for Creative Studies (founded in 1913) that encourages people of all ages to attend art classes, camps and workshops in order to explore their creativity.

The Newport Art Museum has a permanent collection of over 2,300 works of American art.  This art focuses on artistic activity from the late 19th century to the present day, as well as works that emphasize the role Newport and New England artists had in the development of American art.newport-art-museum-1[1]

Some of the artists displayed in the Newport Art Museum are:  19th and 20th century artists William Trost Richards, John Frederick Kensett and George Bellows, impressionists, Howard Gardiner Cushing and Helena Sturtevant, and contemporary artists such as Dale Chihuly, Italo Scanga, Aaron Siskind and Toots Zynsky, among many others.

Special Exhibitions are taken from the permanent collections as well as other museums and private collections.  They display a variety of themes and are accompanied by special programs.  Three current exhibitions are: Elizabeth Congdon: Heaven and Earth (May 10th-August 12th), Mary Chatowski Jameson: Marine Botanicals (May 17th-Spetember 1st), Corrine Colarusso: Magic Gold, Full Sun (May 17th-Septemeber 7th), and “Very Simple Charm,” the Early Life and Work of Richard Morris Hunt in Newport (May 31st-September 14th).

The Newport Art Museum hosts a variety of events throughout the year including gallery nights and talks, Murder at the Museum nights, lectures, lunch with artists, a variety of workshops and more.

Newport Restoration Foundation

May 30, 2014 by Marshall Slocum Inn

The non-profit organization – Newport Restoration Foundation – was founded by Doris Duke in 1968 with the purpose of preserving, interpreting, and maintaining landscape and objects reflecting architectural culture of the 18th and 19th century on Aquidneck Island.  It maintains this mission by being a leader in historic preservation in Newport Country, preserving a collection of the arts of cabinetmaking and art and artifacts from Doris Duke and using these collections for educational purposes.  Since its start, the Newport Restoration Foundation has preserved or restored 83 buildings, and owns 78 historic buildings, most of which are rented as private residences.  This is one of the largest collections of period architecture in the country owned by a single organization.

Besides their commitment to maintaining the historic architecture of the area, the Newport Restoration Foundation also owns and operates three properties that are open to the public as museums.  These include Rough Point – the mansion owned by Doris Duke, the Whitehorne House – which houses a collection of 18th Century Newport furniture, and Prescott Farm – an example of early American architecture and landscape.

The Newport Restoration Foundation also runs a variety of history tours that help visitors learn about different aspects of Newport’s magnificent history. “Discover Colonial Newport,” is a tour that involves revolution and ruin and the struggles for religious liberty in Newport.  “From Golden to Gilded” takes visitors through the transformation of Newport from a colonial age to a gilded summer colony. “Rum and Revolution” discusses the booming rum trade and its activity throughout the Prohibition era.  “Souls & Stones” takes guests to the Common Burying Ground and explores the art of gravestone carving and discusses the diverse group of people buried there.  These are just a few of the great historic tours offered.  All tours leave from the Museum and Shop at the Brick Market Place on Thames Street and last about 75 minutes.

Green Animals Topiary Garden is Open for the Season

May 16, 2014 by Marshall Slocum Inn

The Green Animals Topiary Garden opened for the season last week.  As part of the Preservation Society of Newport County, this mansion, located in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, gives visitors the chance to visit the oldest and most northern Topiary Garden in the United States.

This seven acre estate was purchased in 1872 by Thomas E. Brayton as a summer home.  His gardener, Joseph Carreiro, and son-in-law, George Mendonca, were responsible for creating the topiaries.  The gardens, which include more than 80 pieces of topiary, almost completely outshine the house.  The estate includes sculptured trees and shrubs in the shapes of various animals like camels and giraffes, flower beds, and fruit and vegetable gardens.  The white wood frame house contains family furnishings and has become a small toy[1]

Brayton’s daughter, Alice, gave the estate it’s name, the Green Animals Topiary Garden, and became a permanent residence there in 1939.  At the age of 94, Alice passed away and left her estate to the Preservation Society of Newport County and is still considered one of the finest Topiary Gardens in the United States.