A Night at the Opera
Bessie and William McKee spent their winters in Boston at their large, elegant townhouse on Commonwealth Avenue. Among their favorite entertainments was the Opera. They were members of the Boston Opera Company which performed at the Opera House, and they attended every week during the season - often twice a week. To learn more about the Opera and what will be exhibited visit our blog by clicking here.
Sculpture Embraces Horticulture
This summer, six regionally known sculptors will create original installations in Blithewold's Gardens. Rhode Island sculptor and RISD graduate, Allison Newsome, will curate the three-month outdoor sculpture show. Click here to learn more about the exhibit and specielf events associated with it!
Blithewold was designed, indoors and out, to entertain and delight friends and family. Our exhibits and programs this season will focus on celebrations both elegant and casual.
A Wedding to Remember
This exhibit located in the newly expanded second floor exhibit space of the Mansion, will showcase Bessie & Augustus Van Wickle’s wedding. On display will be Bessie's 1882 wedding dress, gifts, and trousseau.
Picnics, Parties & Playtime
Visit the Summerhouse in the Enclosed Garden for a photo exhibit of weddings, Fourth of July picnics and clambakes at Blithewold from the same era, as well as photographs and home movies of family fun from the early 1900s.
Blithewold's unique location on Narragansett Bay, with its protected deep-water harbor for boats, superb sailing on the Bay, and easy access to the Atlantic Ocean was the primary reason Augustus and Bessie Van Wickle purchased the property in 1896. The dock and bathhouse allowed Augustus to pursue his love of yachting and provided easy access to his growing collection of Herreshoff boats, the 78-foot steam yacht, the Marjorie, and the racing sailboats, the Esperanza and the Wild Swan.
In recognition of Blithewold's spectacular waterfront setting, the family's enjoyment of Narragansett Bay, and Augustus Van Wickle's distinction as Commodore of the Bristol Yacht Club and member of the New York Yacht Club, we are celebrating summers on the Bay, both past and present, through both our programs and special exhibits.
The exhibit “Summertime by the Bay” was a celebration of summer activities at Blithewold dating back to 1894 when the Van Wickles bought the property and went on their first cruise on the family’s new Herreshoff yacht, Marjorie. For the next eighty years, summertime at Blithewold was a golden time, full of laughter, sunshine, and exhilarating activities: sailing, swimming, and kayaking; tennis, lawn bowls, and croquet; chasing dogs and balls on the great lawn; dancing and dining in the evenings while the young cousins ran wild through the grounds.
The main exhibit space in the house will highlight photographs, guest books, games, and summer clothing – all from the Blithewold collection. As a special treat we have several of the family's small boats displayed in the Sleeping Porch.
The exhibit continues in the Summerhouse where the family traditionally gathered for tea and lemonade on hot afternoons. Here you will see a collection of large-format photographs of the family enjoying their summers together. This will be an ideal place for children to connect to the past and try out old-fashioned games like hula-hoop, croquet, jacks, checkers, and cards.
Wednesday, April 06
- Wednesday, October 05
Saturday, April 16
- Saturday, October 08
Wednesday, May 04
- Wednesday, June 08
Watercolor Painting at Blithewold with Artist Mary Ellen Dwyer
Wednesday, May 04
- Monday, October 10
Stephen Procter Sanctuaries and Destinations: Clay Vessels in the Garden
Tuesday, May 31
- Tuesday, July 05
Archives and Collections Tour with Curator Margaret Whitehead
Wednesday, June 01
- Monday, October 10
Bristol Explorer Multi-Attraction Pass
Ranunculus are here!
(May 27, '16)
Spring is definitely in full swing here and already hinting at summer! It was so warm this week that the lovely spring blooms we’ve been anxiously awaiting buckled a bit with the first blast of heat. They have since recovered, but not without making our hearts skip a beat thinking they may go by […]
Springing into action
(May 06, '16)
Despite the wretched weather this week, we ushered in May with a flurry of activity. The volunteers helped us pot up 100 dahlias in preparation for planting out in the gardens next month. They also transplanted Cosmos and Zinnia seedlings that will eventually be planted in the Cutting Garden. We are trialing about a dozen […]
A Boy’s Trip to Europe, 1869
(Apr 27, '16)
In 1869, 16-year-old Israel Pardee left his home in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, for a one-year educational journey through Europe, accompanied by his younger sister Anne. Israel (known in the family as Izzie) was Bessie McKee’s older brother and became Marjorie Van Wickle’s favorite Uncle. Izzie and Anne had joined the family of their father’s friend, Dr. […]