Blithewold’s landscape embraces active recreation and quiet repose, integrating indoor-outdoor living spaces in a way that anticipates a more casual 20th century lifestyle. The Dock Complex, tennis courts and former Golf Clubhouse reflect Augustus Van Wickle and his passion for sports. Photos, descriptions and home movies—as well as kayaks and croquet sets—that remain in the collections demonstrate the active lifestyle of his two daughters and a turn-of-the-century feminist spirit. The Summerhouse and open-air breakfast room, sleeping porch and piazzas offered ample opportunities for less active family members to enjoy the benefits and beauties of the outdoors.
The extensive use of works of art and artifacts collected by the Van Wickles in their travels around the world, as well as family heirlooms or items specially commissioned for the site, imparts a rich and lively unity to both outdoor and indoor spaces. The furnishings and decorative arts found at the estate reflect a quest for historical reference and authenticity that was an undercurrent of the Arts and Crafts style. The intimacy of the site, its gracious and quiet beauty, have ensured its relevance for generations of visitors from all walks of life, who find inspiration for their own homes and gardens.
Blithewold’s buildings and grounds are the result of an interdisciplinary collaboration between its owners and several talented architects and designers. The gardens are the only known example of the work of landscape designer John DeWolf, a Bristol native involved over nearly two decades on the site. Architects Francis Hoppin and Walter Kilham were both nationally-prominent domestic architects who were involved there at early points in their careers. The estate buildings were published in national architectural and lifestyle periodicals soon after construction, and the gardens cited in books in the 1920s. Both Kilham and interior designer Samuel Bridge Dean shared Bessie and Will McKee’s interests and lifestyle and were actively involved in the American Arts and Crafts Movement.
Sunday, March 29
The Shop at Blithewold Members and Friends Preview Party
Tuesday, March 31
- Sunday, April 26
Friday, April 03
- Friday, April 24
Daffodils at Dusk
Saturday, April 11
Newport Flower Show Events: Horticulture Workshop: Preserving America's Beauty
Saturday, April 11
Daffodil Days Walking Tour of Mansion and Grounds
Sunday, April 12
A Jazz Celebration of Spring
Sight for sore eyes
(Mar 27, '15)
Winter’s mess has me craving tidiness (I understand the whole spring cleaning thing now and have gone a little nuts clearing surfaces at home) and its palette of whites, greys, browns, and bronzy greens has made my eyeballs hungry for super-saturated rainbow colors. You too? I had both wishes fulfilled during one dark, rainy day yesterday. Betsy and I […]
The littlest things
(Mar 20, '15)
Pretty soon only the biggest bonanzas of blooms and armfuls of harvests will knock our socks off but right now, on the first official day of spring, it doesn’t take much to get us excited. Any evidence of the growing season, no matter how small, is huge. Especially considering there’s snow in our forecast today (ugh-gain), piles of old stuff jammed in […]
(Mar 11, '15)
Suddenly it seems like it won’t be too long before we see the ground again… Fingers crossed. Is winter on its way out of your garden too?