Archive for the ‘Newport Art and Culture’ Category

Jane Pickens Theater

May 2nd, 2014 by Marshall Slocum Inn

If you’re looking to see a movie without leaving the city limits of Newport, the Jane Pickens Theater and Event Center is your destination.  It is the only movie house in the downtown area and is known for the films it screens and the events that take place there.  800px-Jane_Pickens_Theater_Newport_RIThe theater shows the best movies available, screening a variety of first run movies, classic films and documentaries.  The theater and event space have are based on history and their goal is to make their events memorable for community members and visitors alike.  The Jane Pickens Theater also does a lot of fundraising for various community non-profits.  It is one of America’s oldest theater buildings and it is important for them to maintain the historic importance of the building.

The theater is located in Washington Square, which is only a few blocks from the Inn, and was built in 1834.  It was originally the Zion Episcopal Church but became a theater in 1919, originally called The Strand.

The theater was renamed by the then owner, Joe Jarvis, in 1974, after Jane Pickens, an accomplished singer, actress, politician and philanthropist. Jane and her sister Patti performed at the dedication and renaming of the theater. 220px-Jane_Pickens Jane split here time between New York City and Newport, eventually retiring to Newport, after her success as a singer, radio host, Broadway actress and Republican Congress candidate.  Here she maintained her impressive involvement with charity.

The Staabs purchased the theater in 2004 and continued to keep the entertainment alive, renaming the theater, a year later, to the Jane Pickens Theater & Event Center, in order to include the special events that were becoming an important part of the theater.  A preservation group called the Friends of the Jane Pickens was created in 2008 to help maintain the building for the long term and to enhance the use of the theater for education.

For showtimes and event schedules, visit the Jane Pickens Website.

 

Celebrating Newport’s 375th Anniversary

April 18th, 2014 by Marshall Slocum Inn

Ann Hutchinson and her followers left Boston and settled on Aquidneck Island in order to gain religious freedom.  After a few years, in 1639, the settlement divided, and a group led by William Codington and Nicholas Easton moved south and formed Newport.  The founders were dedicated to religious freedom, and Newport became one of the first secular democracies in the Atlantic.  Many Quakers and Jews were attracted to this religious freedom and settled on the island.  The town transformed from a small agricultural outpost to one of the five leading seaports in colonial America.

Although there were a variety of religions practiced in Newport, the Quakers became the most influential, dominating political, social and economical life.  Their plain lifestyle was reflected in architecture, landscape and decorative arts.   They were some of the finest craftsman, who made extraordinary furniture. Newport’s architectural heritage can be traced back to the 17th century, when building such as the Old Stone Mill and the White Horse Tavern were built.  Newport’s economics were based on exporting rum, candles, fish, silver and furniture, which fueled their economic growth.  The water front was very busy during this time, and over 150 separate wharves and shops crowded the harbor.  Trade grew, and Newport became an epicenter of modern American capitalism, becoming one of the five leading ports in North America by 1760.  This growth led to a “building boom,” including hundreds of houses and important structures such as the Trinity Church, Colony House, Redwood Library and Brick Market.

The British held Newport from 1776-1779 and hundreds fled.  The British remained until they were driven out by the French, who then stayed until 1783. Due to the damage the British had done to Newport’s economy, Newport had to re-invent itself in the 1900′s.  It transformed into a summer resort area.  Newport became a center for influential writers, artists, educators, scientists, architects and landscape designers during the antebellum period.  Wealthy families such as the Griswolds, Kings and Vanderbilts built mansions in Newport to use as their summer cottages.

Newport maintained its ties to the seas and trading ships filled the water.  Newport started becoming a yachting capital and in the 1930′s, America’s Cup was brought to Newport until 1983.  The Navy also became an important part of Newport and have been based here since the 1860′s.  The Naval War College and Torpedo Station were built after the Civil War and the Navy presence grew.  Today, the Navy is still the largest employer in the area.

After World War II, a preservation movement saved hundreds of structures throughout Newport County.  The Newport Historical Society, Preservation Society of Newport County and the Newport Restoration Foundation were formed, and “Heritage Tourism” became a popular pull for tourists, and helped boost the economy.  Now there are a variety of reasons to visit Newport, whether you’re interested in history, beautiful scenery or an active boating life.

This year, Newport is celebrating its 375th Anniversary.  It will be a year long celebration featuring family activities, lectures, educational programs and public celebrations.  Some activities include: a scavenger hunt, community cookout, community parade, musical tributes, public clambake and a gala at the end of the year.

 

 

 

Doris Duke House: Rough Point

April 11th, 2014 by Marshall Slocum Inn

In Newport, Rhode Island, Doris Duke was a lifelong preservationist and devoted much of her fortune to restoring colonial buildings in the city where she spent her summersRough_Point,_Newport_RI. She founded the Newport Restoration Foundation in 1968 with the purpose of preserving Newport’s 18th- and 19th-century architectural heritage. Her extraordinary vision resulted in an almost single-handed rescue of Newport’s early architectural heritage. Newport thrives today in large part due to its many unique historic streetscapes.

Doris Duke, the only child of James Buchanan Duke, was born on November 22, 1912. Her father was a founder of the American Tobacco Company and the Duke Power Company, as well as a benefactor of Duke University. When Mr. Duke died in 1925, he left his 12-year old daughter an estate estimated at $80 million.

As a collector, Duke spent much of her time traveling the world, amassing coudoris-dukentless treasures and notable collections of Islamic and Southeast Asian art. She also traveled throughout Europe building her collection of fine art and furniture, much of which she used to furnish Rough Point, her home in Newport. She left Rough Point, intact as she lived in it, to the Newport Restoration Foundation to be opened as a museum. Two of her other homes are also open to the public. Visit Shangri-La in Hawaii which is home to an impressive collection of Islamic art. Explore Duke Farms, Doris’s 2,700 acre New Jersey estate featuring remarkable outdoor resources such as walking trails, gardens and environmental programs.

Doris Duke gave away more than $400 million to various causes during her lifetime, often as anonymous contributions. Upon her death in 1993, she left her vast fortune to the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation which supports the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research and the prevention of child abuse.

The Breakers: A Vanderbilt Mansion

March 14th, 2014 by Marshall Slocum Inn

The Breakers is by far the most famous mansion in Newport.  If you only see one mansion while visiting, most will choose the Breakers.  Today, this giant “palace” measures 250 feet by 150 feet and contains 70 rooms, over four floors. Millions of visitors have visited the Breakers since it became open to the public in the 1970′s.

Cornelius Vanderbilt II bought the property and original Breakers in 1885 from Pierre Lorillard to be used as a summer home for his family.  The original building burned down in 1892, which resulted in a mRichard_Morris_Huntuch larger version being built, modeled after the Renaissance palaces in Genoa and Turin.  Work began in 1893 and took just over two years to complete.  Hundreds of workers helped lay the stones and whole rooms were built in Europe and then shipped to Newport.

Richard Morris Hunt was the architect for the Breakers, who worked on many other Newport mansions, including Ochre Point and Marble House.  Hunt died before the Breakers was complete, but wished to be remembered for the stick-style cottages he built early in his career.  However his fame rests with the Breakers and other stone palaces.

This was Vanderbilt’s second home and as it was being built, the anticipation grew.  There were many rumors surrounding The Breakersthe art and amenities of the mansion, and on August 14th, 1895, those rumors were put to rest at the combined house-warming/coming-out party of Gertrude Vanderbilt.  Over 300 guests were in attendance and were greeted by the great hall, which rises nearly 50 feet and is lined with Caen stone.  The East wall, made almost entirely of glass allows for a view to the lawn, ocean and the reef that gave the Breakers its name.  Guests marveled at the two story dining room and “grotto-like” billiards room. The two-level kitchen, the size of a normal size house had sealed doors that no odors could escape from.

Cornelius VanderCornelius_Vanderbilt_II_by_John_Singer_Sargent_(1856-1925)bilt II was the grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt, who started the family fortune.  He was worth more than $70 million, but worked as a bank clerk, making $50 a month and lived on that salary.  He worked long hours and became the chairman of the family’s railroad empire.   He married Alice Claypoole Gwynne and was a devoted husband.  The Vanderbilts were not known for their entertaining because of the amount of time that Vanderbilt dedicated to his family business and philanthropy.  He donated his time and more than a million dollars a year to various charities and much of it was anonymous.  Unfortunately, a year after the Breakers opened, Vanderbilt suffered a stroke.  He died three years later at the age of 56.

Countess Laszlo Szechenyi (Gladys Vanderbilt) leased the Breakers to the Preservation Society of Newport County for $1.00 a year in order to raise funds for the restoration of the Hunter House.  It was finally acquired in 1972, and millions have been visiting ever since.

 

Newport Folk Festival: Festival of the Year

March 7th, 2014 by Marshall Slocum Inn

The Newport Folk Festival recently won the 25th Annual Pollstar award for Music Festival of the Year.  Pollstar is the only trade publication that covers the concert industry worldwide.  For 30 years, they have been a fountain of information for concert promoters, booking agents, managers, facility execs and other live entertainments executives.  Each year, Pollstar invites a group of international music professionals to come up with nominations for the Pollstar Concert Industry Awards.  These awards honor artists, managers, buyers, venues and support services.  Winners are determined by votes from the readership of Pollstar.  This year’s awards were held on February 21st, 2014 at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.

newport folk fest logo

The Newport Folk Festival won Music Festival of the Year, beating out the Boston Calling Music Festival, Electric Forest Festival, Hardly Stictly Bluegrass, and the Treasure Island Music Festival.  This is the second year in a row that The Newport Folk Festival has won this award.

The Newport Folk Festival has been around since 1959, when it was founded by George Wein.  The festival became known for introducing some major stars in the Folk world, such as Joan Baez and Bob Dylan.  This festival stretches the boundaries of folk music, incorporating blues, raggae, rock and indie artists to its lineup.  Some of the most notable performances of the festival throughout the years have been Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, the Pixies, Pete Seeger, and The Avett Brothers.  Thanks to the work of George Wein and the Newport Festivals Foundation, the Newport Folk Festival will continue for years to come.

This year’s festival will be held July 25th through the 27th at Fort Adams.  Tickets generally sell out early.  The lineup for this year is still in the works, however some performers have already been announced.  So far – Band of Horses, Jenny Lewis, The Devil Makes Three, Death Vessel, Nickle Creek, Shovels & Rope, Houndmouth, The Oh Hellos, Benjamin Booker, Mavis Staples and Hurray for the Riff Raff – have been added to this years lineup.  Check out www.newportfolk.org for more information about the festival and additions to the lineup.

Newport’s Tennis Hall of Fame Set for Upgrades

February 14th, 2014 by Marshall Slocum Inn

The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is a non-profit institution, establish in 1954, that works to preserve the history of tennis while inspiring tennis development and honoring those who have earned a spot in the International Tennis Hall of Fame.  Located on six acres here in Newport, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum was officially recognized by the International Tennis Federation as tennis’s official Hall of Fame.  The museum displays the history of the sport and honors 235 athletes.  There are 13 grass courts and an indoor facility, which are open to the public and club members.  Every July, the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships for the Can Alen Cup are held here.THOF300x225[1]

The International Tennis Hall of Fame’s programs grow every year.  They are open 363 days of the year, and offer educational and entertaining programs for both children and adults.  The museum also has a research library dedicated to tennis that offers over 350,000 books, images and audio visuals.  Both beginners and national champions are invited to play on the indoor or outdoor courts.  The Hall of Fame also offers cultural entertainment such as theatrical productions, movie screenings and musical performances.

In August, 2013, the Tennis Hall of Fame set out on a campaign to enhance the visitor experience as well as the local community.  There are four main focus areas to the campaign; to upgrade the museum with new technology; to add additional facilities and tennis courts; improve amenities, including upgrades to the stadium; and to renew the look of the street on Memorial Boulevard so it complements the historic building where the Hall of Fame is located.

This organization hasn’t led a major capital campaign in 12 years.  Fundraising for this campaign has been going on for about a year and a large portion of their $15.7 million dollar goals has been secured.  Once the rest of the funds are secured, they will begin upgrading to make the Tennis Hall of Fame experience even better.

 

60th Annual Newport Jazz Festival Lineup

February 7th, 2014 by Marshall Slocum Inn

Tickets for the 60th Annual Newport Jazz Festival, one of Newport’s biggest music festivals, are already on sale and the lineup is here.  Fort Adams will be bringing amazing jazz performances to Newport once again from August 1st to the 3rd.  The music starts at 11:30am on Friday, August 1st and ends at 7:00pm on Sunday, August 3rd.

njf-big[1]George Wein produced the first Jazz Festival in 1954 in order to celebrate jazz music and to make a case for its relevance.  From then on, this festival has continued to showcase jazz icons and bring attention to up and coming performers.  The Newport Jazz Festival has provided many memorable moment for jazz history, such as the Duke Ellington Orchestra in 1956 and the introduction of Esperanza Spalding.  Performers at this festival both respect the tradition of jazz and reflect the changes in the current musical trends.

Here’s a list of the artists who will be bringing their talents to the Fort Adams stages.

Firday, August 1st – Jon Batiste & Stay Human, John Zorn’s Madasa Marathon, Miguel Zenon Big Band, Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, Snarky Puppy, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Rudresh Mahanthappa – A Charlie Parker Project, Amir ElSaffar Quintet, Mostly Other People Do The Killing, Berklee Global Jazz Ambassadors, URI Jazz Festival Big Band

Saturday, August 2nd – Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Dave Holland Prism, Gregory Porter, Robert Glasper Experiment, SFJAZZ Collective, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Brian Blade & The Fellowship Band, Pedrito Martinez Group, Dick Hyman, Howard Alden & Jay Leonhart, Kurt Rosenwinkel New Quartet, Newport Now 60 Band, Stefano Bollani & Hamilton de Holanda

Sunday, August 3rd – Bobby McFerrin spirityouall, David Sanborn & Joey DeFrancesco, Dr. John & The Nite Trippers, Gary Burton New Quartet, Vijay Iyer Sextet, Danilo Perez Panama 500, Django Festival All-Stars, Ron Carter Trio, Lee Konitz Quartet, Ravi Coltrane, The Cookers, Migus Big Band, The Brubeck Brothers, George Wein & Newport All-Stars

Preservation Society of Newport– Bringing Newport History to the Public

January 30th, 2014 by Marshall Slocum Inn

Some of the biggest attractions in Newport are the Newport Mansion, which wouldn’t be available to the public without the efforts of the Preservation Society of Newport.  The Preservation Society was founded by a group of visionaries in 1945.  Their goal was to save Newport’s historical architecture from neglect and ruin.  It is a non-profit organization, which now has 11 properties, 7 of which are National Historic Landmarks.  They have worked to “protect, preserve and present” these houses as museums to share the history of Newport with further generations.  The Preservation Society of Newport is the largest cultural organization in Rhode Island, and is continuously working to engage the public in America’s heritage.

The Breakers

The Breakers

These historical building date back as far as the 1700’s and tell the story of America from the Colonial Era through the Gilded Age. More than 900,000 people visit these 11 properties every year, learning about what New England life was like within the last 250 years.  From the Hunter House to the Breakers, guests can explore history and see what life was like.  Both audio tours and guided tours are available.

The Preservation Society is always working to improve the historic experience and get their guests involved.  This past summer, the audio tour of the Elms was updated, which includes recent research and tells the story of the Venetian paintings in the dining room.  It also adds more information about servant life in the Gilded Age, incase you can’t experience the separate servants life tour.

In October 2013, the Preservation Society was approved by the RI Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission, to create a visitors center at the Breakers, Newport’s largest mansion.  This new center will get rid of the current ticket booth, portable restroom trailer, vending machine shed and seasonal ticket tent and create a one-story building that adopts the style of the original landscape.  It will offer visitors information about the Breakers as well as the other Preservation Society properties.  It will also offer refreshments and comfortable bathrooms.  No irreversible alteration to the landscape will happen and the historic “fabric” and “viewsheds” will be preserved.  They are just waiting on the appeal to the Newport Zoning Board.preservation-society-of-newport-county-logo

Top Ten Historical Attractions in Newport RI

January 18th, 2014 by Marshall Slocum Inn

Cliff Walk from the air

Cliff Walk from the air

I decided to write a piece on the  top ten historical attractions in Newport RI to assist our guests if time is short.   Most if not all of these landmarks are within walking distance of the Marshall Slocum Inn and/or have free ample parking.  Although there are significantly more than 10 historical landmarks we decided to offer a top ten list to guide our guests when visiting Newport.  For those guests who are staying longer at the bed and breakfast there are many more places and sites to see than these ten.

  1. The Breakers – The Breakers is undoubtably the most famous tourist attraction in Newport RI for domestic and international visitors.  Completed in 1895, The Breakers is a concrete example of the Vanderbilt families exorbant wealth derived from, amongst other things, the New York Central Railroad.  This National Historic Landmark consists of 70 rooms adorned with rare marble, alabaster, and gilded woods.  Perhaps the most enjoyable feature of the Breakers are the spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean and the historic Cliff Walk.
  2. Touro Synagogue – The Touro Synagogue is the quintessential example of Roger Williams’s promotion of religious tolerance and could be a main topic of why Rhode Island is it’s own state.  Completed in 1763, the Synagogue became the first accepted active place of worship in the United States for Jewish persons.  During the British occupation of Newport RI the synagogue survived burning due to it’s usefulness to the British troops as a hospital and meeting place.  Recently, a beautiful new visitors center was completed giving tourists a great resource to learn about Judah Touro and his followers.
  3. The Marble House – Inspired by the Petit Trianon at Versailles, the Marble House is the other grand property of the Vanderbilt family.  The house is ordained with gold and marble throughout which architect, Richard Morris Hunt, intended to be a statement of wealth during the infamous Gilded Age.  Alva Vanderbilt, the properties owner, held her “Votes for Women” rallies at the mansion as part of her lifelong commitment to women’s rights.
  4. Rough Point – Rough Point is the home of Doris Duke, heiress and art collector who turned her good fortune into a life’s work in philanthropy.  Most of Duke’s fortune came from the tobacco plantations owned by her family and she is said to have donated up to $400 million throughout her lifetime.  Her philanthropic legacy continues today throughout the City of Newport by means of the Newport Restoration Foundation and the Doris Duke Foundation.
  5. National Museum of American Illustration – The National Museum of American Illustration is perhaps the most under visited and cautiously marketed attraction in Newport.  Located at Vernon Court, a Gilded Age mansion on Bellevue Avenue, the building hosts the first national museum devoted exclusively to American illustration art, featuring Norman Rockwell, Maxfield Parish, JC Leyendecker, NC Wyeth, Jessie Willcox Smith, and 150 other artists.
  6. The Elms – A personal favorite of the staff at the Inn, The Elms was completed in 1901 as a summer retreat for coal magnate Edward Berwin and his wife Herminie.  Features of the house include modern amenities that were unheard of at the time as well as floor to ceiling artwork and tapestries.  Perhaps the best part of the Elms preservation is the behind the scenes tour where visitors can see the staff living quarters, boiler room, laundry room, kitchen, and the secret roof deck with expansive views of Newport and the Atlantic Ocean.
  7. Fort Adams - Situated in a strategic location overlooking Narragansett Bay, Fort Adams is a unique example of coastal defense systems utilized pre Revolutionary War up to World War II.  Visitors can take a guided tour of the interior of the fort, the many underground tunnels, and the amazing overlook posts with 360 degree views of Aquidneck Island and Narragansett Bay.  Fort Adams is also home to the Jazz and Folk Festivals which occur each summer in Newport.
  8. The Newport Mill – The Newport Mill is located in beautiful Touro Park and is thought to be the oldest remaining structure in Newport.  There is no confusion about it’s usage from the 18th century onward but the debate rages on as to the buildings origin and purpose.  Some theories point to an astronomical tool and others to an observatory for the Chinese.  In a document of 1741 the tower is described as “the old stone mill” an d in 1760 the Tower was used as a haymow.  During the American Revolution, the tower was used by the Americans as a lookout, and by the British to store ammo.
  9. The Cliff Walk – Other than the Breakers the Cliff Walk is perhaps the number one tourist attraction in Newport.  Although there is not a lot of historical facts associated with the walk it offers too many beautiful scenic views and has been around since the Gilded Age to be left off this list.  The 3.5 mile walk was used by the Vanderbilts and all their wealthy neighbors on walks to Easton’s Beach.  In 1975 the walk was designated as a National Historic Trail, the first in New England.
  10. Washington Square – Two of Colonial America’s most significant structures are located at either end of Washington Square, the Colony House and the Brick Market.  Built in 1741, the Colony House is one of the best maintained surviving Georgian buildings in the United States.  The stately building was used for the colonial legislature during the fight for independence.  Another example of classic Georgian architecture is the Brick Market built in 1762.  The traditional open first level served as a marketplace for trading, much like Fanueil Hall in Boston.

White Horse Tavern

September 27th, 2013 by Marshall Slocum Inn

Most people don’t think about history when they go out to eat, but at the White Horse Tavern it’s hard not too.  This Tavern is the oldest, still running Tavern in the United States, rich with history and still serving excellent food.

The White Horse Tavern has only had 6 owners since being built in 1652 as the two story home of Francis Brinley.  Just over 20 years later in 1673, this property was acquired by William Mayes, Sr., who transformed it into a tavern, identifying it with a white horse – the symbol of a tavern during that time.

For about 100 years before the Colony House was constructed, this tavern was a meeting place for the Colony’s General Assembly, Criminal Court, as well as City Council.  When William Mayes Jr., a notorious pirate, became the innkeeper in 1702 after his father, he was granted a license to sell “all sorts of Strong Drink.” William caused much embarrassment to the British officials and William’s sister Mary and her husband Robert Nichols soon became the tavern’s innkeepers.  City councilors continued to dine here and charged their meals to the public treasury.White_Horse_Tavern_in_Newport_RI[1]

In 1730, a new tavern keeper, Jonathan Nichols, gave the tavern its present name, The White Horse Tavern.  He was followed by Walter Nichols, who left Newport in 1776 to avoid the British, but returned later. When he returned, he added a gambrel rood and re-opened the tavern.

The Nichols family sold the tavern in 1895 to Thomas and Bridget Preece and it became a rooming house.

The structure suffered from use and neglect by 1954, but was acquired by the Preservation Society of Newport and was restored.  In 1957 it re-opened as the White Horse Tavern.  In 1981, O.L. Pitts and three partners purchased the Tavern and continued the tradition of “good fellowship, good food and good cheer.”  O.L. Pitts gave the tavern over to Paul Hogan, a native of Newport on his 90th birthday, and the White Horse Tavern continues to thrive.

 

 

 

 

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