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]

Classic Cruises of Newport

June 8th, 2013 by Marshall Slocum Inn

There are a variety of boat tours that leave from the Wharfs, located only a short, 10 minute walk from our Inn.  Located on Bannister’s Wharf, Classic Cruises of Newport offers two different cruise options: The Madeleine and The Rum Runner II.  Each offers a unique cruising experience for guests.  Enjoy the excitement of taking to the water in the Sailing Capital of America, where you will enjoy great views of Newport Harbor and Narragansett Bay.  All cruises last between 60 and 90 minutes and run every two hours.

The Madeleine is a classic 72 foot schooner sailing yacht, which was designed and built to easily carry passengers and safely sail in Newport waters.  This yacht combines the comfort and convenience of a 21st century sailing yacht with the style of a 19th century sailing yacht.  A sunset cruise can be enjoyed aboard the Madeleine and includes complimentary champagne, beer and soft drinks.madeleine[1]

The Rum Runner II was built in 1929, at the height of Prohibition, for two New Jersey mobsters.  This high speed motor boat cruises by mansions and former speakeasies where “seaborne smugglers” dropped their goods in the 20′s and 30′s. The Smugglers Cocktail Cruise includes a complimentary beverage.Rum Runner II Excursion Tours[4]


Newport Lighthouses

May 29th, 2013 by Marshall Slocum Inn

Rhode Island is home to a number of lighthouses, four of which are right here in Newport.  The Rose Island Lighthouse, the Lime Rock (Ida Lewis) Lighthouse and the Newport Harbor (Goat Island) Lighthouse can all be seen from various spots in downtown Newport, while the Castle Hill Lighthouse is located off Ocean Drive, next to the Castle Hill Inn.

Castle Hill Lighthouse photo

Castle Hill Lighthouse

Rose Island Lighthouse – This lighthouse was built in 1870 and stands 35 feet tall.  It was abandoned after the Pell Bridge was built and was the victim of scavengers, vandals and the weather until the Rose Island Lighthouse foundation was founded and restored it in 1984. This lighthouse can be accessed by ferries from Newport and Jamestown.  Tours are held in the lighthouse museum from 10am to 4pm, and features rooms that were restored to replicate what it would look like if the lighthouse keepers still lived there. The lighthouse and museum run on wind power electricity and a rainwater collection system.

Lime Rock Lighthouse – This lighthouse station was established in 1854, but was discontinued in 1927.  Standing 13 feet tall, it is now the home of the Ida Lewis Yacht Club.

Goat Island Lighthouse – The Goat Island lighthouse is situated on Goat Island, and while it is not open to the public, the grounds adjacent are.  The current lighthouse was built in 1842 and is 35 feet high.

Castle Hill Lighthouse – The Castle Hill Lighthouse was established and built in 1890 and stands 34 feet tall.  While the lighthouse itself is not open to the public, the grounds around it are.

There are many boat tours that highlights these lighthouses and if you want to see all the lighthouses of Narragansett Bay, there is a 90 minute boat tour – “10 Rhode Island Lighthouses of Narrangansett Bay” – which operated out of Quonset Point, North Kingstown, which is about a 30 minute drive from our Newport Inn.  Many of these lighthouses can also be seen from tours that are right out of the downtown Newport area, such as Newport Majestic Cruises or Classic Cruises of Newport.

Maple Syrup

May 25th, 2013 by Marshall Slocum Inn

Pancakes and French Toast are great to begin with, but drizzling pure maple syrup over the top makes them that much better.  Since Rhode Island isn’t known for producing the sweet treat, we’ve looked to New York to help us deliver an even better breakfast.

Mountain Winds Farm is a 140 acre farm nestled in the hills of Berne, NY and has been owned by the Grippin family since 1961. Today, second generation – Randy Grippin and his family are running the farm. Randy started his maple syrup production in 2005 with 50 pails and it has grown to a production with 50,000 feet of pipeline and 1,300 taps, with the capacity to make 500 gallons of syrup each spring. Although his production has grown, he still maintains the independence of a small, family owned farm, teaching his children the ways of making premium maple syrup.  Each batch is made by hand with his wood-fired evaporator, and his farm is 100% hormone, pesticide, antibiotic and GMO free.

Enjoy this delicious syrup with your breakfast at the Inn, and if you just can’t get enough, we have half-pints available in our giftshop to take home.shapeimage_6[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.

Newport Vineyards

May 12th, 2013 by Marshall Slocum Inn

What’s better than a nice relaxing evening, sitting on the porch, drinking a nice glass of wine after a busy day of cliff walking and mansion visits?  For many of our guests the answer to that is, nothing.  While there is no lack of liquor stores, you may find visiting the source to try some local wines more appealing.

The seeds of Newport Vineyards were planted in 1977 in a field that overlooks the Rhode Island Sound.  The goal of the planters was to produce wine in order to save precious agricultural land from development.  Aquidneck Island has one of thnewportvineyards3[1]e best growing climates, allowing for a long, cool growing season for the grapes.  These first grapes were planted by Captain Richard Alexander who later teamed up with the Nunes family to build a winery in 1988.  That same year their first vintage was produced.  In 1995, When Alexander retired from wine making, the winery was aquired by John and Paul Nunes.  It was then that they established the brand “Newport Vineyards”, which now encompasses 60 vineyard acres.  Newport Vineyard wines have won many awards throughout the years and the most popular wine is their “Great White”.  They have a large selection of white, red, blush, dessert, sparkling, and reserve wine, as well as their own brand of hard cider called “Rhody Coyote”.

Newport Vineyards is open 7 days a week from 10am to 5pm (Monday-Saturday), 12pm to 5pm (Sunday), with summer hours extending to 6pm starting Memorial Day weekend.  They offer guided tours of the vineyard at 1pm and 3pm Sunday-Friday and hourly on Saturdays between 11am and 4pm.

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


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.