Blithewold's Site History
The Enclosed The Bosquet The Wellhead The North Garden
In developing the site history and considering how Blithewold relates to other historic properties of the era, a number of themes have emerged.
Blithewold has a rich legacy, which has evolved over time. While features from the past 120 years are most evident, the underlying layers from more than 400 years of continuous land use can still be traced on the land. New owners have shaped the property to meet their own needs, just as fires and hurricanes have created dramatic transformations. New gardens were created, plantings have matured and new programs have been developed to serve its changing mission from private to public enjoyment.
Unlike many estates of the period, where earth was moved and forests were planted to shape Nature to the tastes of its owners, landscape gardener (who sometimes referred to himself as a landscape architect) John DeWolf and Bessie Van Wickle McKee subtly transformed the natural topography and vernacular landscape structure at Blithewold that date to Colonial times. Some landscape features, such as the Enclosed Garden, appear to have been in place since the mid-19th century, before it was purchased by the Van Wickles. Bessie’s vision of creating “an estate in which new beauties are constantly revealed, and the perfect accord between architecture and grounds is ever apparent” remains in evidence today.
Wednesday, May 15
- Wednesday, June 19
Introduction to Watercolor
Thursday, May 23
Tree Mob at the Arnold Arboretum
Saturday, May 25
Behind the Scenes Tour
Marjorie’s dove tree turns 40
(May 16, '13)
It’s a lucky visitor whose gaze turns east along the path between the mansion and the Enclosed Garden, instead of west across the blooming North Garden and Great Lawn to Narragansett Bay. The western view is a compelling one to be sure and even I am caught up short by it every time I walk ...
The Costume Collection
(Jan 07, '13)
Many of you already know about the fabulous collection of gowns and accessories belonging to Bessie Van Wickle McKee that came home to Blithewold last year. Forty-one dresses with accessories, coats, and hats, had been given to the Colonial Dames … Continue reading