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Celebrating Irish Heritage Month in Newport

February 27th, 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!

 

Audrain Automobile Museum hits Bellevue

January 11th, 2015 by Marshall Slocum Inn

This past fall, a new addition to Bellevue Avenue opened and is a great place for those who love cars.  The Audrain Automobile Museum has opened up near the Tennis Hall of Fame, with a vision to become one of New England’s most regarded automotive museums.  It is aAudrain great place for car enthusiasts to visit, with ever changing exhibits that showcase their collection of over 112 rare and remarkable vehicles.  The museum houses fully restored vehicles from the early 20th Century to today.  Because all their vehicles are never displayed at once, each visit is a new experience.

Some vehicles in their current exhibition include: a 1929 Rolls-Royce Springfield Phantom I Brewster Ascot Phaeton, a 1930 Cord L29 Phaeton, a 1931 Lincoln Model K Convertible, a 1932 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Kellner Salamanca and more.

Adult tickets are $12 and their winter hours are from 1oam to 4pm. An annual membership can also be purchased and includes unlimited admission, access to member only events, two guest passes per year and a museum cap and shirt.

 

Christmas at the Newport Mansions

November 14th, 2014 by Marshall Slocum Inn

Starting on November 22nd and lasting until January 4th, three of Newport’s historic mansions will have their halls decked out for Christmas.  The Breakers, Marble House and the Elms will be filled with yuletide décor, complete with thousands of poinsettias, evergreens, wreaths, fresh flowers and a 28 Christmas trees reflecting the various rooms they’ll occupy.  The windows of each mansion will also be lit with white candles, in order to keep with the colonial tradition.  These three mansions will be open daily for tours during this time, except for Thanksgiving and Christmas.images[3]

Various events will be happening during Christmas at the Newport Mansions such as Holiday Evenings at the mansions, Visits with Santa, a Holiday Dinner Dance at the Breakers, and the Nutcracker at Rosecliff.

Holiday Evenings at the Newport Mansions will take place on Saturdays and include live holiday music, light refreshments and a unique experience visiting the mansions at night.  Santa will be visiting each of the three mansions on Sundays in December.  Eggnog and cookies will be served.  The Breaker’s Holiday Dinner Dance will be held on December 20th at 7pm.  The evening includes a cocktail hour, a three course seated dinner and dancing.  Finally, the Island moving company will be performing the Nutcracker at Rosecliff on various evenings.  Follow the performers through Rosecliff for a spectacular performance.

The Newport Mansions are a wonderful place to celebrate the holiday season while in Newport.

Haunted Newport

October 31st, 2014 by Marshall Slocum Inn

In lieu of today being Halloween, I decided to put together a list of some of the haunted places that Newport has to offer.  Incase you don’t already have plans for the evening, you could decide to check out some or all of these places to see what ghostly vibes you can pick up.

According to hauntedplaces.org there are a bounty of haunted dwellings here in Newport.  The White Horse Tavern, Belcourt Castle, the Rose Island Lighthouse, the Redwood Library, Beechwood Mansion, and even the Breakers are just a few that have reported otherworldly sightings.

The White Horse Tavern, America’s oldest still running tavern, dates back to the 1600’s.  There have been reports of a variety of paranormal sightings, including an elderly man in Colonial clothing who died there, who appears near the fireplace, an entity that guards the building and the staff and a third, female ghost, who has been caught in a photo above a dining table.

Belcourt Castle itself is not said to be haunted, but rather the objects inside of it are.  Recently, the chairs of Belcourt Castle were named one of the “10 Most Haunted Objects in the World,” by Channel 24.  The chairs are said to send tingles up the spines of those who sit in them, or push them out completely.  There is also a suit of armor that screams and there have been sightings of a monk in a brown robe.

The Rose Island Lighthouse has a variety of ghosts ranging from exiled cholera sufferers and the lighthouse’s former keeper, Charles Curtis.  Overnight guests have reported hearing footsteps at midnight and others report hearing voices.  The Rose Island Lighthouse was featured on Ghost Hunters where they found evidence of a figure moving from the building.  They also found a photo of Curtis, who looked similar to an image from a photograph taken inside the innkeepers quarters.

In the Redwood Library, staff has sighted a male wandering around the library at night and there have been reports of the eyes of paintings following guests as they move.  At Beechwood Mansion, there have been sightings of apparitions in a maid’s outfit and another with a yellow ballroom dress.  Alice Vanderbilt is believed to haunt the Breakers after a fire destroyed the manor house that was there before it.

If ghost hunting is your thing, these places in Newport are a great places to start.

Happy Halloween!

 

The Lady of Marble House – Alva Vanderbilt

October 24th, 2014 by Marshall Slocum Inn

The Newport Mansions are filled with the history of the wealthy families who lived in them.  Alva Vanderbilt, later Alva Belmont’s story is the one that thrives behind the heavy walls of Marble House.200px-Alava_E_Belmont[1]

Alva was born on January 17th, 1853 as Alva Ertskin Smith, in Mobile, Alabama.  She was the daughter of a cotton broker.  After the Civil War, her family moved to France, where she was educated.  Alva returned to the States in the 1870’s with her mother and sisters and settled in New York City.  She met William K. Vanderbilt at the White Sulphur Springs and agreed to marry him.  Alva played a major role in raising the Vanderbilts status in the New York elite, starting with commissioning Richard Morris Hunt to design their Fifth Avenue Mansion.

In 1888, Alva and William decided to join the Newport summer colony. Alva again went to Richard Morris Hunt to help create Marble House, which was inspired by the Petit Trianon at Versailles.  It took 4 years and $11 million dollars to complete and on August 19th, 1892, they opened Marble House to their first guests.  Unfortunately, Alva was not happy in her marriage and her and William divorced in 1895.  She was given ownership of Marble House.  After Alva remarried to Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont, Marble House was closed and she moved down the street to Belcourt Castle.

After Belmont’s death in 1908, Alva became a dedicated suffragist.  She put herself and her fortune towards the woman’s rights movement.  She founded the Political Equality Association in New York City, reopened Marble House in 1909 to raise money for the women’s suffrage movement, and traveled to England to attend rallies.  She focused on the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage, later the National Woman’s Party, in 1914 and served on the board, using Marble House for events and headquarters for a while.  After woman won the right to vote she took over the leadership of the National Woman’s Party, helping to establish a new headquarters in Washington, D.C. with her wealth.

Alva sold Marble House to Frederick H. Prince of Boston shortly before her death in 1933.

The Preservation Society of Newport County

October 17th, 2014 by Marshall Slocum Inn

The Historic Newport Mansions are some of the biggest attractions when visiting Newport and if it wasn’t for the Preservation Society of Newport County, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy these historic houses and learn about what life was like when they were private homes.

The Preservation Society of Newport County was founded in 1945 by a small group led by Mrs. George Henry Warren, as a means of saving the Hunter House.  They were concerned that the interiors of the house would be removed after being sold, so the pres society sealpurchased the house, formed the Preservation Society and restored the Hunter House.  Since then, the Preservation Society of Newport County has acquired 11 properties and landscapes, of which 7 are National Historic Landmarks.

This non-profit organization is Rhode Island’s largest cultural organization.  Their mission is to protect, preserve and present their collected of houses and landscapes.  They represent America’s architectural and social development from the Colonial era through the Gilded Age.  The Preservation Society of Newport County offers guests a view into each properties architecture, landscapes, interiors and social history.

The Preservation Society itself has it’s headquarters on Bellevue Avenue in a three-story Romanesque Revival mansion from 1888.  This building was purchased by the society in 1992 and went through a restoration and renovation to transform it into their administrative headquarters.

Halloween Happenings in Newport

October 10th, 2014 by Marshall Slocum Inn

It’s almost Halloween and Newport offers a variety of different spooky and “haunted” activities during October.  Here is a list of a few fun Halloween activities to fill your time in Newport with this October.

FEAR at Fort Adams, formerly known as the Fortress of Terror, is open on select nights from October 10th to the 26th from 6pm until 10pm.  There are a variety of scary activities including the tunnel of terror & haunted officers quarters and ghost hunts.  The tunnel of terror is a “high startle” attraction including theatrical fog, strobe lights and loud noises.  After you can explore the Officers Quarters on an unguided advenimages[8]ture, which is more low-key and shows guests a view of how the Fort Officers once lived.  If that isn’t enough, on some nights they will be taking groups out on 2-hour long Paranormal Investigations, led by the Rhode Island Paranormal Research Group.

Newport Ghost Tours have two different tour options: the Old Town Ghost Walk and Carved in Stone. The Old Town Ghost Walk is an hour an a half walking tour that takes you through historic Newport to discover “ghosts, ghouls, and legends.”  The Carved in Stone Tour is also an hour and a half and tours the Common Burying Ground, Newport’s oldest and largest colonial burying ground.  On this tour, you will find the final resting place for many of Newport’s famous souls and see interesting grace carvings, some dating back to 1672.

If that isn’t enough, on October 25th, take the Rum Runner II to Rose Island and spend the evening learning about Haunted Folklore.  This adventure includes a tour of the lighthouse and a visit to the haunted barracks that were once used as a quarantine hospital during the cholera epidemics in the 1820’s.  You’ll also learn about the spooky experiences of ghost hunters, staff and visitors.

If you want to be spooked this October, Newport has plenty of options for you!

 

 

Orchards for Picking Your Own This Fall

October 3rd, 2014 by Marshall Slocum Inn

In my opinion, the best thing about fall is all the fun outdoor activities available, such as hay rides, scenic drives to look at the changing leaves and of course apple and pumpkin picking.  Newport County has sophotome great places for those who like to pick their own apples when the trees are full of fruit, or select the perfect pumpkin in a full patch. Whether you’re picking apples for pie or pumpkins for the perfect Jack-o-lantern, these orchards will have what you’re looking for.

Rocky Brook Orchards – (977 Wapping Road, Middletown) Rocky Brook Orchards is a family run orchard open on the weekends for picking.  They have over 60 varieties of apples, many of which are unique, and are constantly growing new ones.  They also have pears and quince available for picking. Special reservations for weekday picking can be made.

Sweet Berry Farm – (19 Third Road, Middletown) Sweet Berry Farm sits on 100 acres of land and includes plenty of seasonal pick-your-own fruits as wells as a farmers market and café.  Apples are available for picking through October as well as peaches and pumpkins.

Some other orchards in the area that offer apple and pumpkin picking are: Old Stone Orchard (33 Colebrook Road, Little Compton), Quonset View Farm (pumpkins) (895 Middle Road, Portsmouth) and Hodgkiss Farm (pumpkins) (305 North Road, Jamestown)

 

October Festivals in Newport

September 26th, 2014 by Marshall Slocum Inn

October is one of my favorite months in Newport, because while the temperatures are lowering, there’s still so much to do.  Every weekend in October is filled with fairs and festivals of all sorts, celebrating food, fun and the outdoors.  Here’s a list of what’ll be going on around town.

Norman Bird Sanctuary 40th Annual Harvest Fair:  This year’s Harvest Fair will be held on October 4th and 5th right on the grounds of the Norman Bird Sanctuary.  There will be a variety of activities and entertainment such as the Mabel Express Barrel Train, Monkey Bridge, mud pit and midway, pony rides, music, crafters from around New England and plenty of food.  There will also be a variety of competitions to see who has the best single fruit and vegetable, most unusual vegetable, jack-o-lantern, best fresh flower arrangement and more.

International Oktoberfest: This year’s Oktoberfest will take place on October 11th and 12th down at the Newport Yachting Center. It’s known as the waterfronts “official sendoff to summer” and includes the sights, sounds and tastes of Bavaria.  A variety of seasonal beers and German cuisine will be available along with music all day long.  There will be three Biergartens this year and plenty of space to enjoy a nice beer… or six

Bowen’s Wharf Seafood Festival: The seafood festival will be held October 18th and 19th.  This festival honors the “harvest of the sea” and includes a variety of delicious seafood options from many of Newport’s great restaurants.  Seafood such as clam chowder, stuffies, lobster dinners, oysters and more can be enjoyed on the waterfront and will be accompanied by live music both days from 11am until 5pm.

Third Annual Newport Food Truck Festival: From 11am to 4pm on Saturday, October 25th, more than 20 of New England’s best food trucks will be serving up great eats at the Newport Yachting Center.  There will be live music and drinks to accompany the wide array of choices from BBQ to seafood to ice cream sandwiches.

The Museum of Newport Irish History

September 19th, 2014 by Marshall Slocum Inn

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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]

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