Archive for the ‘Newport Art and Culture’ Category

Brenton Point State Park

July 6th, 2013 by Marshall Slocum Inn

Located on Ocean Drive, Brenton Point State Park is the perfect place to spend a relaxing afternoon in Newport.  Brenton Point is located right where Narragansett Bay meets the Atlantic and has one of the greatest views in town. Picnicking, hiking and fishing are some of the activities that can be enjoyed here, as well as simply sitting back and enjoying the cool ocean breeze. Brenton Point State Park

Brenton Point’s history dates back to early Rhode Island history. Brenton Point State Park was named after Governor William Brenton, a religious refugee from the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  After living in Boston for four years he was “vigorously excused” in 1637 and spent time in Anne Hutchinson’s Portsmouth community before settling at the southern end of the Island in 1639.  He divided his land, which today would not only be Brenton Point, but Castle Hill, Hammersmith Farm and Fort Adams, into two farms.  Brenton understood that this area was very good for raising sheep (one of Rhode Island’s earliest economic export), and eventually he was raising 11,000 sheep.  Brenton not only became a prosperous land owner, but also a prominent political figure in the colony.

William Brenton became the governor of Rhode Island and served from 1666 to 1669.  Brenton happily took chances in annual elections and held office under the Charter of 1663.  He died in 1674.  Two years after Brenton’s death, Newport faced its first real challenge when the Wampanoag Indian Chief, Metacomet, united Indian tribes to expel white settlers in the mainland Massachusetts and Rhode Island towns.  Fortunately, Newport and Portsmouth avoided massacres and being burned to the ground, and instead took in refugees from the areas that did.  During the time that followed, Brenton Point and Castle Hill held their guard against pirates who were also seeking refuge in Narragansett Bay.Brenton Point State Park WWll Batteries

In the first half of the eighteenth century, Brenton point became a “portal” to the Privateers (commercial ships ready to wage war on England’s enemies).  In 1776, Newport was a captured town, behind enemy lines, in the American Revolution.  Cannons at Brenton Point and Castle Hill defended any attempts of the Americans to free the inhabitants under British garrison control for three years.

When the war was finally over, Newport and the surrounding farms were devastated for decades.  Eventually the city was rescued by those seeking summer fun.  Farm houses from before the civil war were transformed into guest houses.  Wealthy industrialists from New York and Pittsburg began building mansions along Cliff Walk and Ocean Drive.  Theodore M. Davis from Boston built a house known as “The Reef” in 1885 at Brenton Point, which became famous for its walled gardens and green houses.  The estate took up eighteen acres, and after Davis’ death it went to Mr. and Mrs. Milton Budlong who used it until 1941.

During WWII, the site was one of the gateways to Narragansett Bay, making it an ideal location for coastal artillery battery.  The house was returned to the Budlongs in 1946, but remained unoccupied and thus continued to deteriorate, until finally, a fire destroyed the villa in 1960.  In 1969 the site became “open space property ,” under the control of the State of Rhode Island as part of the Green Acres Program.  It became a Brenton Point State Park in 1976.

 

Source: http://www.riparks.com/History/HistoryBrentonPoint.html

Greenvale Vineyards

June 22nd, 2013 by Marshall Slocum Inn

Greenvale Vineyards is located five miles from Newport, RI, along the Sakonnet River in Portsmouth.  Greenvale is one of three Vineyards in Newport County and is committed to producing fine wines as well as conserving open space.  Listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places, this farm has been owned by the same family since 1863.  In the beginning, this land was intended to be a 50 acre, self sustaining, family run operation.  The combination of water, rich soil and temperate climate make Aquidneck Island the perfect place for farming and growing grapes for wine production.

Greenvale’s mission in simple: they want to maintain their historic farm by producing world class wines and selling them from their Tasting Room, which is a restored stable, as well as various locations in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.  At the Vineyard, they provide recreation and education to visitors while alsosunrise-1[1] focusing on the preservation of beautiful buildings and the conservation of open space.

Cortlandt and Nancy Parker, fourth generation farmers began growing grapes as a hobby in the 1960′s.  About 20 years later, they recognized the pressure that farm land was facing on the Island and decided to develop a commercial vineyard in order to have a viable farming operation.  They started growing their grapes for Sakonnet Vineyard, located in Little Compton, across the river.  In the 90′s, with the help of their daughter and her husband, the Parkers set out to develop Greenvale’s own wine after hearing that their fruit was “too good” and should be produced under a Greenvale label.  In 2000, the Stable at Greenvale Farms was restored, which allowed the farm and vineyard to be open for tours, tastings and music.

Greenvale produces 3, 500 cases of wine annually from grapes grown on 24 acres of farmland.  All the harvesting is done by hand and the wine is produced right on Aquidneck Island and processed the old fashion way, in a basket press.  Greenvale Vineyards produces seven types of wine including: Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay Select, Greenvale Chardonnay, Elms Meritage, Greendale Vidal Blanc, Skipping Stone White and Rosecliff Pinot Gris.

 

Newport Flower Show

June 14th, 2013 by Marshall Slocum Inn

The Preservation Society of Newport is hosting its 18th Newport Flower Show from June 21st to the 23rd at Rosecliff Mansion.  This year, the theme is Jade: Eastern Obsessions, which will take attendees on an exotic journey through Far Eastern traditions and beauty.  Floral designer Hitomi Gillian will be sharing her skills on the latest techniques and designs while Harriett Henderson will be there to share her experiences throughout the Far East and how Western gardens have been influenced.  nfs-2013-rack-card[1]

The weekend kicks off with the Opening Night Cocktail Party held on Friday, June 21st at Rosecliff Mansion.  The cocktail party lasts from 6pm to 9pm.  Guests can enjoy fresh floral arrangements, “horticultural extravaganzas,” a cocktail buffet and shopping.

As you enter the Moon Gate into Rosecliff on Saturday and Sunday, you will be greeted by “zen-full” inspired gardens.  There are a variety of events happening throughout the weekend to keep you entertained and enjoying the flower show.  Lectures and Demonstrations will be happening throughout the weekend and will cover topics such as; Chinese Brush Painting, Florals inspired by Far East Traditions, the Spirit of Jade in Newport Landscapes, “Asian Small Bites,” A Tree Tour of the Elms and Chepstow, Jade Garden Plants, and many more.  There is also shopping at the Oceanside Boutiques, which is an anticipated Newport tradition. Garden accessories, clothing, gifts, jewelry and decorative items will be available for sale.rosecliff-people[1]

The Atlantic Cup

May 17th, 2013 by Marshall Slocum Inn

The Atlantic Cup – the only dedicated Class 40 sailing race in the US – will be leaving New York on May 18th and heading to Newport for an inshore grand prix, Memorial Day weekend (May 25th and 26th).  The race started on May 11th in Charleston, South Carolina, where competitors began their race to New York City, and will soon head to Newport.

A Class 40 yacht is a “monohull” racing yacht with a maximum length of 40 feet. Racers can create their own boat designs as long as they do not exceed the maximum overall size for their class. Designers can focus on technical aspects of the boats such as type of sail and mast height and weight, without being restricted.  This makes for very competitive racing that is extremely close over long distances.  Class 40 was established in 2004 and is designed for short-handed offshore conditions and will guarantee fast, competitive racing.

The Atlantic Cup includes both off-shore and in-shore races, which ensures that the winner is a complete sailor.  This race tests competitors on two different sailing disciplines, ocean racing and buoy racing.  Having two different races also helps level the field between different yacht designs, again making it a close competition.logo[1]

This is the third time the Altantic Cup has come to Newport and it’ll be here from May 20th to 26th.   From May 20th to the 24th, the racing boats will be open for viewing from 11am to 5pm at the Newport Harbor Hotel Marina.  On the 22nd, everyone 21 and older is invited to celebrate with all the Atlantic Cup crew and teams at the International Yacht and Athletic Club.  The party starts at 7pm. The actual race takes place at Fort Adams on Saturday, May 25 and Sunday May 26th between 11am and 4pm.  The finish line is just off the north lawn of Fort Adams and there will be commentary, food and vendors, making Fort Adams the place to be during race time.  To wrap everything up, The Landing is hosting a “Prize Giving Party” from 6pm to 9pm on the 26th.

Viking Trolley Tours

May 11th, 2013 by Marshall Slocum Inn

Tours a great way to get an overall view of an area – you can see the main attractions, and then plan which ones you think are worth heading back to on your own.  Here in Newport, one of the best ways to see the highlights of the city is by taking a Viking Trolley Tour, which depart from the Visitor’s Center - just a short walk from our Newport Inn.

Viking Trolley tours have been giving visitors an inside look at Newport since 1962  They offer three different tours ranging from 1.5 hours to 4 hours.  All tours start out with a narrated scenic overview of the area including Ocean Drive and Bellevue Avenue, and you can include a visit to either one or two of the mansion with Tour 2 or 3.

Currently, only Tours 1 and 2 are available and run twice per day, 10:00am and 1:30pm, but starting on June 16th, all three tours will be available.  Tour 1 – narrated scenic overview - runs five times per day (10am, 11am, 12:30pm, 1:30pm and 3pm), Tour 2 – scenic overview plus choice of one mansion, four times a day (10am, 11am, 12:30 and 1:30) and Tour 3 – scenic overview plus choice of two mansions, once per day (12:30pm).sightseeing-pic1[1]

National Museum of American Illustration

May 5th, 2013 by Marshall Slocum Inn

Vernon Court, which is now the home of the National Museum of American Illustration (NMAI) was built in 1898, and has been recognized as one of the ten greatest mansions in America.  It has been compared to such structures as the White House, the Breakers and the Biltmore.  The National Museum of American Illustration was founded in 1998 by Judy Coffman Cutler and Laurence S. Cutler in order to display their art collection from the “Golden Age of American Illustration.”  This museum opened its doors to the public on July 4, 2000.

The NMAI’s summer season hours will start on May 24th and are Thursday-Sunday 11am-5pm, with guided tours Friday at 3pm.  Until then they are only open 11am-5pm on Fridays.  Tickets are $18.

On the summer season’s opening day, the NMAI will be debuting a new exhibition called “The American Muse,” which will be on display until the fall.  This collection pays respect to women of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and the artists who accurately portrayed their beauty and character.  Some illustrators that will be featured are Harrison Fisher, Philip Boileau, Henry Hutt and Paul Stahr, among others.  These illustrators created icons of American women of their day, which were featured in artist books and magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post and Cosmopolitan.

In addition to this new exhibit, the NMAI will continue to showcase other exhibits: Maxfield Parrish: The RetrospectiveHoward Pyle and his Brandywine Students and highlight’s from the museum’s American Imagist collection.

Museum of American Illustration

Kingscote

April 29th, 2013 by Marshall Slocum Inn

Most people tend to visit the main 5 mansions when visiting Newport – The Breakers, Marble House, The Elms, Rosecliff and Chateau-Sur-Mer, but there are many others to see as well.  An example of one of these “under the radar” mansions is Kingscote, which opens for the season on May 11th.

George Nobel Jones of Savannah, Georgia, wrote to Richard Upjohn, the founder of the American Institute of Architects, in September of 1839, asking him to build a cottage with “eight chambers” and a few sleeping quarters for servants, as well as “water closets” and a bath indoors.  Neither man knew that the cottage that was designed would help represent a transition in Newport – a transition from a city struggling from the post-revolutionary economic collapse to a “thriving cosmopolitan resort.”

Many southern plantation owners spent summers in Newport as an escape from the heat of the south.  They would stay in small hotels, private boarding houses or rented cottages. George Jones’ family was among this group of people, and he was one of the first to build a cottage used solely for his personal use in the summer.  This was just another way Kingscote aided in making Newport a premier summer resort destination.

The house was completed in 1841, and is an example of Gothic Revival architecture.  Gothic Revival began in the mid eighteenth century in England and features a smaller, human scale with a large variety of form and decoration.  It relies on organic inspiration and is more picturesque than impressive.  It uses asymmetry and a variety of textures in its gables, dormers and lattices.  Kingscote has held true to this style of architecture and is one of the last surviving wooden structures of its size, period and style in the US.

Kingscote was sold in 1863, after the Civil War severed Jones’ ties with Newport, to William Henry Hunter King.  King was not new to the Newport scene and his family had strong ties with China.  He amassed a large collection of Chinese porcelains, paintings and furnishings that are still used to decorate the house.  King, unfortunately suffered a mental breakdown and was admitted to a mental hospital in 1866.  The house then began to get passed down to other members of the King family.  In 1880 this cottage was officially registered as “Kingscote” and a year later, David King, added a three story addition to the home.  This addition added the most lavish room in the house, the dining room.  The last two owners and residence of Kingscote were, Maud Armstrong, the daughter of Ella Louisa Rives King, and her daughter Gwendolen.  Ella was adamant about the preservation of Kingscote and Maud and Gwendolen held true to that, refusing to sell the estate to the government in order to build a school.  When Gwendolen passed in 1972, she left Kingscote and all its furnishings to the Preservation society so that it could be enjoyed by others as it was enjoyed by her family for over a century.

Kingscote exterior

The Elms

April 12th, 2013 by Marshall Slocum Inn

The Elms - 1930

The Elms – 1930

One of the most frequent question I am asked from guests is “What is the best Mansion in Newport?”  Usually my answer is that all of the houses are different and appeal to everyone in their own way.  While this is true, I think that the house with the most character and spirit is The Elms.  The Breakers is the most impressive and the largest but it seems to have been primarily designed to throw huge parties.  The Marble House was essentially built to one up the Breakers and it shows with it’s pure volume of Gold and Marble throughout the mansion.  Lastly, although elegant, Rosecliff is used for weddings and other functions and it’s decor is often in a transistion phase setting up for these events.

The Elms, which is suprisingly on the non water side of Bellevue Avenue was designed by Horace Trumbauer for Edward Julius Berwind.  Mr. Berwind was born in Philadelphia in 1848, the son of German immigrants.  At the young age of 17, he was appointed to the United States Naval Academy which was then located in Newport.  After a 10 year career in the Navy, Berwin joined is brothers in the lucrative coal business.  Soon after joining the famliy business, Mr. Berwin was appointed head of the New York office and grew the business to the largest coal supplier of the marine industry.

The design of the Elms, lead by Horace Trumbauer, was based on an 18th century adaptation of the Chateau d’Asnieres near Paris.  French interior decorators filled the house with enough period furniture, paintings, and tapestries to qualify The Elms as an instant museum.  From the outside, The Elms seems to have only 2 stories but this was done on purpose to hide the staff’s quarters, kitchen and laundry.  Not suprisingly, a coal fired heating system, which was way ahead of it’s time, was installed to protect the many valuable antiques and paintings inside.  Coal was transported through an underground rail system to maintain the allure that the house ran itself by itself.

Undoubtably, the most impressive aspect of The Elms is the grounds.  Many theories abound as to why the Berwinds invested so much money into landscaping design but most likely it was done to compensate for the lack of ocean views.  Upwards of $300,000 was spent to outfit the grounds and pay for the twelve gardeners needed to keep everything in tip top shape.  The 10 acre park contains almost 40 species of trees and shrubs as well as many statues and fountains.

The Berwinds were said to divide their time between the mansion and their steam yacht anchored in Newport Harbor.  Mrs. Berwind died in 1922 and Mr. Berwind continued to work in New York and visit Newport on the weekends until he was 85.  After passing at the age of 88 in 1936, Berwind’s sister assumed control of the house until 1961.  The Elms was saved from destruction by the Preservation Society of Newport County and the house was opened as a museum on August 20th, 1962.

So, if you want to tour a Mansion ripe with spirit and character visit the Elms and be sure not to miss out on their wonderful behind the scenes tours where you can view the basement and the servants living quarters.

Newport Mansions

April 1st, 2013 by Marshall Slocum Inn

The Breakers

The Breakers

Only in Newport can you walk through centuries of American life in an afternoon.  Each house you visit is an authentic icon of one of the great eras of American history.  Hunter House was here when the Battle of Bunker Hill was fought; Chateau-sur-Mer saw the age of global commerce by American clipper ships like Flying Cloud; and The Breakers opened as the Vanderbilt’s latest achievement in the era in which railroads revoultionized the nation much the way jetliners and the internet would do a century later.

Five remarkable audio tours bring you a new and unique perspective on the lives of the people who lived and worked in the grand mansions of Newport.  Based on personal diaries, letters, records, and oral histories, these audio tours offer the personal stories of the men and women who lived in each house and the household staff who cared for them.

Explore the Breakers, Marble House, The Elms, and Rosecliff at your own pace with state of the aret digital audio players.  At The Breakers, you can choose from the main audio tour or a Family tour, which piques the imagination of youngsters and their parents alike by brining the house, its furnishings, and even its sculpture to life as never before.

Hunter House – Pass through the front door of Hunter House and you step back inot Newport’s 18th century Golden Age, the era before the American Revolution.  It was the home of a merchant, ship owner and colonial deputy, which later became the Revlutionary War headquarters of the French Navy.  You’ll see up close a great collection of exquisite colonial furniture, created by legendary Newport craftsmen like the Townsends and Goddards.

Chateau-sur-Mer - A product of the American-China Trade and one fo America’s great Victorian houses, Chateau-sur-Mer was home to three generations of the Wetmore family.  You’ll see hand carved Italian woodwork, Chinese porcelains, Egyptian and Japanese Revival stenciled wallpapers, and rare trees from as far away as Mongolia.

The Breakers – The Breakers is a surviving jewel of the New York Central Railroad fortune, making a statement about the global sensibilities of the Vanderbilt family.  The 70-room summer estate of Cornelius Vanderbilt II includes a two and a half story high Great Hall and a Morning Room adorned with platinum leaf wall panels.  Its interiors feature rare marble, alabaster, and gilded woods throughout.

The Elms – The summer retreat of coal magnate Edward Berwind and his wife Herminie, The Elms was a thoroughly modern house in 1901.  So technologically advanced for its time it appeared to work as if by magic, it also house monumental art works, including wall sized Venetian paintings, Chinese lacquer panels and tapestries.

Rosecliff – The newest Newport Mansions audio tour brings Rosecliff’s history and romance to life with never before told stories and first person remembrances of its colorful families.  From Tessie Oelrichs, who built this fantasy in terra cotta, to the Monroes of New Orelans, the last family to call Rosecliff home, you’ll discover the very human story of Newport’s great party house.

Marble House – Created by Alva Vanderbilt and Richard Morris Hunt and inspired by the Petit Trianon at Versailles, Marble House contains 500,000 cubic feet of marble.  Intended as an ultimate statement of Gilded Age privilege, only a few years later it hosted Alva’s “Votes for Women” rallies on the back lawn.  Hear the words of Alva Vanderbilt, her daughter Consuelo and many more, brought to life in the award winning audio tour.

Notes: This text was taken from the Newport Mansions Explore the American Story Brochure

 

 

Off the Cuff Top Five Attractions in Newport

March 19th, 2013 by Marshall Slocum Inn

It is amazing to me that after over 15 years of living in Newport that I still stumble upon a new hidden treasure that Newport has to offer.  Sometimes these treasures are just around the corner from the Inn and other times a discovery that my wife and I make on one of our many walks around the city.  Following is a list of some of the less obvious attractions/things to do/places to eat on Aquidneck Island that may not be included in the typical Newport guidebook.  Most locals know about these items but this post is more for our guests and visitors to Newport.

  1. Southern End of the Cliff Walk/Rejects Beach – The most beautiful part and less traveled part of the Cliff Walk is the Southern end.  On Summer days when town and the beaches are packed full of people you can hike this portion of the Cliff Walk and see only a few people.  The same goes for Rejects Beach which is located near the end of the Cliff Walk and only a few hundred yards from the famed Bailey’s Beach Club.  To get to both of these areas just take the trolley which is a short walk from the Inn.     www.cliffwalk.comair1[1]
  2. Sachuest Point – The Cliff Walk understandibly tends to get the most attention as a great outdoor activity during all four seasons in Newport.  However, if you enjoy being outdoors Sachuest Point is a great seaside walk overlooking second beach in Middletown.  A great place for birders, Sachuest Point also has free and ample parking.  Visit the Sachuest Point website for more information.beach and sky
  3. Newport International Polo Series – Occuring every Saturday starting in June, the Newport International Polo Series features the U.S.A. versus a multitude of International teams including such far away places as Ghana.  Grab some wine and cheese and watch the entertaining game of polo field side.  www.nptpolo.comEntertainmentPolo
  4. Pineapples On The Bay – Located at the Hyatt Hotel, Pineapples has one of the best views in Newport.  Unimpeded views of the Newport Bridge and the harbor can be had from any of the many outdoor tables.  Plus, Tuesday is half price appetizers and there is free validated parking.   Visit the Pineapples website for more information.lighthouse
  5. Castle Hill – Castle Hill Inn and Resort is located on Ocean Drive and situated right at the entrance to Newport harbor.  A huge wedding venue with room rates climbing into the $700-$800 range during peak times, Castle Hill is a great place to grab an afternoon cocktail or a dinner priced lunch.  Dinner, although top notch, should be avoided unless you plan to dine early.  Why pay the top prices if you cannot see the water?
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