At the Old Colony House, Washington Sqaure many Architectural Forum members joined the kick off of "Christmas in Newport" at the Newport Historical Society open house. Ths was a great opportunity to see the upstairs rooms including the magnificent Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington that has hung in the building for more than 200 years! It was also a great chance to view the exhibit "Handwritten History: Correspondence of Great Americans." (which featured large-scale reproductions of 11 letters and documents from the NHS collections all by or about family individuals or events in American history" before the exhibition closed! After the open house closed attendees gathered in Washington Sqaure park for the annual lighting of the Christmas Tree.
Annie Robinson, author of Peabody and Steans: Country Houses and Seaside Cottages, delivered an entertaining and informative lecture about the architecture of Peabody and Stearns. At the Rosecliff Mansion her lecture drew upon the many sketches, plans and photographs done by members of the firm (and by their contemporaries) that she collected as part of her thesis work and book project.
A Distinguished Steward Award was presented to Mrs. Marion Oates Charles, a longtime personal friend and preservation collaborator of Doris Duke and the longest serving trustee of the NRF. Two Preservation Awards were also bestowed: the first on James and Alice Ross for their painstaking restoration of McKim Mead and White’s Berkeley House and the second to Channing Memorial Church for the restoration of the structure’s steeple and bells. It was a wonderful evening of food, drink and celebration of architectural preservation here in Newport!
The Preservation Society of Newport County held a community discussion panel at Rosecliff Mansion concerning Bellevue Avenue's historic gates and fences. Participants were able to explore some of the most elegant gates and fences to line an historic American street. From the c.1840 Egyptian-Revival obelisks at the Touro Synagogue Cemetery, to the gates of The Elms (which were nearly demolished in the 1960s) to the rows and rows of Victorian cast iron pillars and posts, decide for yourselves whether the gates and fences of Bellevue Avenue are an essential part of Newport's historic character. The panelists included: Michael Kathrens, Author, Newport Villas; Moderator: Karen Jessup, Ph.D, Landscape Historian; Mack Woodward, Architectural Historian, RIHPHC; and Robert Foley, Director of Preservation, NRF. This was a colorful presentation and discussion of these historic objects.
Thanks to the work of the Washington Square Route Initiative and members of the Newport Architectural Forum, a grand new tradition was established! In the morning, there was a self-guided tour of the many historic building that sit along a parade route originally established two hundred years ago in 1810. Following that, more than 500 people gathered at the end of Longwharf in front of the Old Colony House for a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence from the very building where it had been read from in 1776! The Newport Artillery company then celebrated the day with a 21-gun salute by firing of their four great canons in Eisenhower Park before the assembled observers. It is hoped that this tradition will continue to grow each year and become an event that both visitors and Newporters will look forward to each and every July! In the meantime, be sure to join in the celebration of the return of Washington Square as a center of both the commercial and civic life of the community by coming down to the area to see the renovations that have been completed and to enjoy the many shops and restaurants that can be found there!
Thanks to the generosity of the Carnegie Estates and Woodmeister Master Builders, Newport Architectural Forum members were invited to a lovely cocktail party and tour of Out-to-Sea, one of the buildings featured in (Architectural Forum member) Cheryl Hackett’s new book, Newport Shingle Style. The book is a lovely photographic examination of fifteen houses, both new and old, that epitomize this elegant resort style of architecture. Out-to-Sea, the gracious structure shown on the cover of the book, was designed by two other Forum members, John Grosvenor and Paul Weber and the evening was both elegant and delightful. Cheryl was on hand to sign books that the Woodmeister graciously gave to all the guests who attended the event.
Each year the Swiss Village is open for tours to the public for one single day. This year that day was June 12! The SVF Foundation's "Swiss Village" sits on 35 acres in Newport, Rhode Island with an adjacent 11 acre site which was formerly part of Hammersmith Farm. It was built in 1916 by Arthur Curtiss James and was designed by the famous architect Grosvenor Atterbury to resemble a rustic village from the Italian region of Switzerland. Along with a self-guided tour of the historic architecture and rare breed displays, the scientists were offering liquid nitrogen demonstrations as well as in-depth explanations of the science behind cryo-preservation and the need for genetic diversity in agriculture to Architecture Forum members and others who attended.
Have you ever wanted to know more about the buildings that you drive past every day here in Newport? We are surrounded by some of the most important and historic buildings anywhere in America and the entire American architectural history, particularly the period from 1680 until the late 1920s, is beautifully illustrated in the buildings that still exist here in the “City by the Sea.”
Participants learned how to recognize the Georgian, Federal, Queen Anne and many other styles of architecture and get a better picture of how architecture and broader cultural developments are interlinked and expressed in one another. The classes included: “The Colonial Period,” “Rise of the Republic,” The Gilded Age,” and the “Modern Era.”
In celebration of the Newport Casino 130th anniversary, the Tennis Hall of Fame held a one day symposium on the Shingle style of McKim Mead and White and put together a first class group of panelists and arranged for participants to visit some of the firm’s most notable works of architecture here in Newport. Architectural Forum members received a $10 discount to the symposium and about 30 Forum member were in attendance of this sold-out event! After lectures in the morning, a private tour of the Casino Theatre that is currently undergoing renovation and an elegant lunch served on the Casino horseshoe piazza, the attendees had the opportunity to tour some magnificent McKim Mead and White homes, many of them private, to see the work of these master architects first hand. The event was such a success that it is hoped that this symposium will become an annual event so be sure to clear your calendar in future years. Visit this LINK to learn more
The impossibly picturesque buildings surround the town center of Little Compton were the site of the 25th annual RI preservation Conference. Nearly 300 planners, architects and preservation leaders from around the state gathered for a well planned day of education and networking. As the Architectural Forum was one of the sponsors, our members got a 25% discount of the standard cost of $40 for a day of key note lectures, seminars and tours and lunch. If you missed the conference this year, be sure to clear your calendar in future years.
Simeon Bankoff, Executive Director of the New York City Historic Districts Council (a not-for-profit organization that strives to preserve the history of New York City by advocating for the protection of historic buildings and neighborhoods) addressed more than 100 Architectural Forum members, politicians and leading Newport citizens with his lecture on the history of Historic Districts and their role in helping preserve neighborhoods within the 5 boroughs of New York Mr. Bankoff stated that preventing important buildings from being torn down was simply the beginning of a longer term effort. He observed that groups must be formed to find long term uses for the structures and to provide funding for ongoing rehabilitation and maintenance. He further went on to say that, in his experience, the most preservation has been accomplished in those New York neighborhoods where the grass roots effort was strongest.
The lecture was followed by an elegant reception with passed hors d’oeuvres and cocktails in the beautiful morning room which adjoins the Rosecliff Ballroom. Attendees of the event were able to gather, meet Mr. Bankoff and chat about the ideas discussed in the lecture. What a spectacular evening of important ideas and sumptuous entertainment!
Opening: Feb 5 Newport Art Museum, 75 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI Exhibition: “The Art of Architecture & Design”The members of the Newport Architectural Forum hung their first annual exhibit in the Studio Gallery of the Newport Art Museum and it was a fabulous show! There were nearly thirty works of Historical architectural drawings lent by sister institutions, Art used by architects in their work and Art inspired by architecture.
Rosecliff, 75 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI Screening: The Great Gatsby. The screening took place in the very ballroom where many scenes in the 1974 production of The Great Gatsby, starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow, were filmed.
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