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.
Tuesday, April 05
- Friday, May 13
Afternoon Tea in the Dining Room
Wednesday, April 06
- Wednesday, October 05
Friday, April 15
- Friday, May 06
Daffodils at Dusk
Saturday, April 16
- Saturday, May 28
Exploring the Spring Garden
Saturday, April 16
- Saturday, October 08
Saturday, April 23
- Friday, April 29
Gateway to Spring: A Botanical Exhibition
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. […]
(Apr 22, '16)
Daffodil Days here at Blithewold are in full swing. The soft, sweet fragrance of the flowers wafts toward me whenever I walk near the Bosquet. It’s positively enticing! I could wax poetic about each daffodil variety we have here, but I thought it would be better to let them speak for themselves. So, in lieu […]
(Apr 15, '16)
This post is written by Gail Read, the Gardens Manager here at Blithewold. She has been here at Blithewold for over 25 years and is a fountain of knowledge about the plants and the property. Daffodils lift our spirits when they bloom each year. They signal the end of our weary winter and the […]