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 The furnishings and decorative arts found at the estate reflect a quest for historical reference and authenticity that was an undercurrent of the Arts and Crafts style.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.
Saturday, March 28
Bristol Parks and Recreation Town Easter Egg Hunt
Saturday, March 28
Children's Easter Bunny Tea
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
Sunday, April 12
A Jazz Celebration of Spring
(Feb 27, '15)
Even though it feels like winter has stalled over New England and we might never see the ground again, we are moving ahead towards spring. Our engines are revving and we’ll be ready to hit the ground running at the first sign of thaw. We’re sowing seeds, taking cuttings, and keeping up with the insect activity in the greenhouse […]
(Feb 20, '15)
It’s awfully hard to feel optimistic about spring when the snow is knee-deep and deeper and the temperatures are in the single digits. It feels for all the world like winter will go on forever. This is what our world looks like right now… Beautiful, yes… But I think most of us are ready to move on. […]
(Feb 06, '15)
Last week’s blizzard seem to open the gate to a real winter complete with snow storm after snow storm, and hard-core cold. We’re being tested on our ability to stay upright on icy patches, and on keeping our cool when we can’t get where we’re going on time. But we’re also being reminded about what we love about […]