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 HorticultureThis 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.
Sunday, November 02
Pruning Practices and Winter Interest Plant Walk
Thursday, November 06
Garden Design Luncheon The Slow Flowers Movement: From Field to Vase
Friday, November 07
Eco-Floral Hands-On Workshop with Debra Prinzing
Friday, November 14
Dahlia Days with Rick Peckham's Greenhouse, Little Compton, RI
Saturday, November 22
Children's Thanksgiving Floral Workshop
Friday, November 28
- Sunday, January 04
Christmas at Blithewold
(Oct 24, '14)
I’d prefer to think that the season is in transition rather than ending but when we start throwing some of summer’s best blooms into the bed of Blithewold’s truck, it definitely feels more like a goodbye than a see-you-later. This week, once again, the rain and a woolly nor’easter held off just long enough for […]
Celebrating Our Arboretum
(Oct 23, '14)
There’s something very new and exciting going on this year in Blithewold’s Visitor’s Center during Christmas at Blithewold. Gail Read, Gardens Manager, Kris Green, Interpretive Horticulturist, and Betsy Ekholm, Horticulturist, have partnered with the garden volunteers to design a display to Celebrate Our Arboretum. Essentially, they are pulling different natural features from throughout the Grounds, preserving […]
A rabbit’s eye view with Noel Kingsbury
(Oct 17, '14)
We are so lucky that yesterday’s rain held off just long enough to take a ground-level tour of Blithewold’s gardens with British garden designer/plantsman/author, Noel Kingsbury. He showed us, plant by plant, exactly what to look for to help predict how different plants will behave in our gardens. He reminded us that plant growth falls along […]