Blithewold's Site History-Primary Themes

         The Greenhouse Complex                                             The Loggia                                                 Marjorie's Bedroom

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Blithewold provides a unique and seamless design aesthetic, both sophisticated and personal, from its gardens to its architecture, from its wealth of unusual plant specimens to its collection of furnishings, decorative arts, costumes and even garden equipment. The letters, diaries, photographs and ephemera preserved in the archives allow visitors to feel the presence of the estate’s owners. They serve as a primary source for scholars, and ensure a high degree of authenticity for interpretation, exhibits and other programming.

Blithewold’s aesthetic is individual, but also closely tied with the larger Arts and Crafts Movements in Great Britain and the United States. The family’s love of things English is demonstrated on many levels, from the naming of the site to the decision to rebuild the mansion after the 1906 fire “on the lines of the English Manor of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.” Architectural elements and furnishings imported from English stately homes, as well as Colonial Revival details, family heirlooms and bedhangings of Blue and White Needlework created by the Deerfield Society, are just a few examples of the family’s embrace of an old-fashioned lifestyle promoted among the upper and middle classes on both sides of the Atlantic. Blithewold is unique in the degree to which these ideas extend into the landscape.

In siting and landscape, Blithewold offers a unique expression not only of the Arts and Crafts aesthetic, but also what has become known as the Country Place Era. In contrast to the showplaces of Newport and the Gilded Age, Blithewold’s house and gardens offer an atmosphere of intimate informality, serenity and joie de vivre that were typical of many Rhode Island coastal communities at the turn of the century, and remain appealing to visitors today.

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