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, 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