Archive for the ‘Newport Art and Culture’ Category

The Whitehorne House

September 19th, 2013 by Marshall Slocum Inn

The Whitehorne House, located on Thames Street, was built in 1811 and is a rare example of a Federal-style mansion.  It features a formal garden, a hipped roof and classical entry portico, as well as a grand central hallway featuring hand carved details.  This house is home to a large collection of 18th century American furniture, including works from the Townsend and Goddard workshops and Benjamin Baker.Whitehorne House Newport

Samuel Whitehorne Jr. made his fortune through various commercial enterprises, such as rum distilling, banking, shipping and most likely slave trading.  Whitehorne was one of Newport’s last great merchant “princes” due to the collapsed economy after the American Revolution.  The Whitehorne House was a symbol of his prosperity.  However, it was short lived after two of his ships were lost at sea.  Whitehorne went bankrupt and his house was sold at auction in 1843.  It was converted to shops and apartments and gradually deteriorated.  Thankfully, in 1969, the Newport Restoration Foundation purchased and restored the property.

Not only is the Whitehorne House now home to some of the best examples of Newport and Rhode Island furniture from the late 18th century, but it has a magnificent garden, which is an interpretation of a Federal period garden for an affluent, urban family.  The garden is filled with antique roses, blueberry bushes, fruit trees and various perennials and annuals.  The garden maintains a rustic quality despite its “refined geometry”.

 

Chateau-sur-Mer

August 31st, 2013 by Marshall Slocum Inn

Since it’s completion in 1852, Chateau-sur-Mer has undergone a major transformation.  Chateau-sur-Mer was first built by Seth Bradford, for William Shepard Wetmore, as a romantic Italianate villa.  Wetmore wanted something a little more than the ordinary summer home and therefore had his made of rough-cut, Fall River granite, giving it a more rugged look, which wasn’t found in any of the other seaside villas.  Though smaller than it is now, it was expensive and substantial enough to be considered palatial.  It became a turning point in domestic architecture and triggered an architectural competition among summer residents.

Wetmore was a great entertainer and was featured in the New York Times for his “fete champetre,” held in 1857, and attended by over 3,000 guests.  This party was the “start” of Chateau-sur-Mer.  Unfortunately, when Wetmore died in 1862, his estate was passed to his son, George Peabody Wetmore, who undertook a major rebuilding of his fathers estate.

Richard Morris Hunt was the architect hired for the project.  He altered the appearance of the Chateau so much that many believed the original had been torn down and replaced.  His revisions began in 1871.  He switchedchateau-sur-mer-newport-ri[1] the main entrance from the west side to the north, built a grand carriage entrance, and replaced the gambrel roof with a steeper mansard roof.  Hunt tore out the old service wing and replaced it with a billiards room, added a wing on the north side for a service area and new dining room, and created a dramatic entrance hall three stories high with balconies, skylights and an imperial staircase.

Several years later he continued the transformation of Chateau-sur-Mer and added another floor above the dining room and service wing as well as raising the mansard roofs.  Critics have since used words such as “stern” and “severe” to describe this impressive mansion.

George Peabody Wetmore died in 1921 and left the estate to his two daughters, Edith and Maude, who began adding some softer touches to the very masculine residence.  The house gradually filled with contemporary paintings and drawings and Chinese porcelain.  The furnishings of the house were auctioned off after the death of Edith Wetmore in 1968, many of which were purchased by the Preservation Society, whom also purchased the estate.

Isaac Bell House

August 12th, 2013 by Marshall Slocum Inn

The Isaac Bell House sits on the corner of Bellevue Avenue and Perry Street and is one of the best examples of shingle style architecture in the nation.  It was built between 1881 and 1883 by McKim, Mead and White as the summer residence for Isaac Bell Jr.  Bell was a wealthy cotton broker and the brother-in-law of theIsaac Bell House Newport Mansion publisher of the New York Herald, James Gordon Bennett.

This house blends English Queen Anne with New England colonial.  The architects used Oriental design influences which created a new “vernacular” style, known now as “shingle style.”  The Isaac Bell House helps illustrate the evolution of Newport as a premier place for great design and a distinctly American style of architecture.  This house also features Arts and Crafts interiors, an open floor plan and Japanese inspired columns.

This house was passed through a variety of owners before being purchased by the Preservation Society of Newport County in 1994.  The house was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1997.

America’s Oldest – Touro Synagogue

July 26th, 2013 by Marshall Slocum Inn

Touro Synagogue, the oldest synagogue in America, is located just minutes away from our Newport Inn.  Newport’s first Jewish residents made their way to the island in 1658 from Barbados.  Upon the arrival of these fifteen families, a new congregation was formed.  They called themselves the “Yeshuat Isreal.” By 1677, the congregation realized they needed to acquire land for a Jewish cemetery and Mordechai Campanal and Moses Israel Paeheco, two of the original immigrants, purchased a lot on the corner of what is now Kay and Touro Streets.

The Jewish population had grown by 1758, to a point where they needed a larger, permanent gathering place and house of worship.  Peter Harrison, a Newport resident volunteered to design the synagogue and construction began in 1759.  Newport’s Jewish csynagogueinterior2009[1]itizens were closely tied to communities throughout the mid-Atlantic region as well as the Caribbean and garnered significant financial support.  Communities in London, Jamaica and Surinam also lent financial support.  The building was completed in 1763 and was dedicated on December 2nd, during the Chanukah festival celebrations.  The dedication was a regional ceremony attended not only by the congregation, but by clergy and other dignitaries from around the colony.

During the American Revolution, the British occupied Newport and many of the Jewish residents fled the city.  Isaac Touro kept watch over the synagogue and it became a hospital for the British military as well as a public assembly hall.  British troops were desperate during the cold winters and tore down and burned a number of local residences and buildings, however, since the synagogue was used as a hospital and meeting place, it was saved from the same fate.  British troops evacuated Newport in October of 1779 and within the next few years many of the Jewish families returned.

The war took a toll on the regions economy and rival ports quickly overshadowed Newport.  Many of the Jewish merchants had business interest in these other cities, and by the end of the War of 1812, most of the families had moved.  The synagogue was used occasionally for holy days and funerals.  The congregation decided to lock the doors and left Stephen Gould as caretaker.  Legal oversight and its deed were given to Congregation Shearith Isreal of New York, with whom there was already a close relationship.  Even with the distance from the synagogue, Newport natives Abraham and Judah Touro both provided aid to maintain the properties. Abraham had a brick wall built around the cemetery in 1820 and bequeathed $10,000 to the State of Rhode Island for the support and maintenance of the “Old Jewish Synagogue” when he died.  He also bequeathed $5,000 for the maintenance of the road connecting the cemetery and the synagogue.  Because of his generosity, this street was named Touro Street the synagogue took on the name of Touro Synagogue.  Judah died in 1854 and had previously replaced the wall his brother had made which had fallen into disrepair.  His will included $10,000 towards the ministry and maintenance of the synagogue.

In 1881, the “new” Jewish community of Newport petitioned the New York congregation to reopen the synagogue for services and to appoint a permanent rabbi.  Congregation Shearith Isreal in New York complied and sent a rabbi from London, but retained the rights to the building.  A lease amount of $1 per year is still paid to the New York group.  In 1946, Touro Synagogue was designated as a National Historic Site, followed two years later by the Touro Synagogue Foundation to aid in the maintenance and upkeep of the building and grounds.  Touro Synagogue remains an active house of worship and is open for tours.

Touro Synagogue Outside

 

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

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