The Vision for Blithewold in the Future
Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretum is widely recognized as a thoughtfully conserved and authentic historic site of consequence; a cultural landscape of historical importance and contemporary relevance; and a place of tranquility, beauty, and repose.
Blithewold respects founding family member Bessie Van Wickle’s vision of creating “an estate in which new beauties are constantly revealed and the perfect accord between Architecture and Grounds is ever apparent.”
The property is:
- A destination for enthusiasts of gardens, history, the arts and the natural environment, as well as for those seeking an experience of tranquility;
- Interpreted as a cultural landscape with a variety of heritage assets including gardens, grounds, buildings and archives all closely linked to its vibrant social history;
- A model of sustainable stewardship of an historic property, continuing to evolve naturally and culturally;
- Environmentally respectful in carrying out its programs, activities and initiatives.
Blithewold’s stewards preserve the property in accordance with its cultural and environmental significance while maintaining operational excellence and integrity. The property is fully supported by the greater community, its membership, donors, visitors, scholars, and staff.
Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretum is an historic site with an unusual combination of significant horticultural, cultural, and physical assets.
- Is a sanctuary, a place of peace and repose, embodying and reflecting the quiet elegance, taste, enjoyment, and experimentation of two generations of a family who loved the place and saw it as a home rather than a testimony to their social or financial position.
- Is a nationally-distinguished arboretum with remarkable specimen trees that are considered among the finest in the United States.
- Enjoys a waterfront setting with spectacular views of Narragansett Bay, offering visitors wonderful scenic perspectives, ever-changing light and rare maritime access.
- Is distinguished by buildings, gardens, archives, furnishings and objects which together illuminate periods rich in history and provide an unusually cogent and complete perspective on the life and times of an extended family. These collections are the foundation of diverse and well-researched interpretive programs.
Blithewold’s organizational mission is “to preserve New England’s finest garden estate through excellence in horticulture and historic preservation, and by our example to teach and inspire others.” Adopted by the Blithewold Board of Directors in 2002.
Operationally, Blithewold adheres to the following principles:
- Focus on the Visitor: Blithewold is a hospitable, accessible, historic property with broad interpretation, committed to attracting, engaging and welcoming visitors and members of all ages, interests and backgrounds.
- Integrity: Blithewold makes decisions for the institution based on its mission. It is among the few late 19th and early 20th century American estates that retain completeness and authenticity, from the buildings and landscape to the details of plant materials, interior furnishings, family archives, and artifacts.
- Education: Blithewold provides creative opportunities for exploration, study, and enjoyment of the physical site, its social history and collections: in schools and online; throughout the community and beyond; in thoughtful collaborations with universities and horticultural organizations; and with other institutions in the region and further afield.
- Stewardship: While successive generations have left their imprint on the site and its features, design decisions implemented in the 1890s are largely intact and evident. The family’s desire to preserve Blithewold’s defining character is respected by the organizational mission to conserve a multi-generational family’s seaside estate for the enjoyment, pleasure, and education of adults, children, families, horticulturists, historians and the general public.
- Human Capital: Across the organization, Blithewold understands that staff and volunteers who work on the property have traditionally been one of its greatest assets. It respects their contributions and nurtures their professionalism.
Wednesday, April 15
- Wednesday, October 07
Wednesday Walk-Around, a Guided Tour of Blithewold
Tuesday, June 02
- Thursday, September 03
Yoga in the Garden
Thursday, June 04
- Wednesday, September 30
Bristol Explorer Pass
Friday, July 03
- Friday, August 21
Family Fun Friday
Sunday, August 02
Wednesday, August 05
Blithewold’s Summer Concert Series: Music at Sunset - Honky Tonk Knights
(Jul 27, '15)
Lily has to be one of the most overused descriptors in horticulture. Go figure, given how aptly it defines so many flowers: the word itself has a trumpeting flare and and if I use my imagination, a sweet fragrance too… Spring is plenty-lily-ful with trout lily, lily of the valley, checkered lilies, and lily-flowering tulips doing their thing, but starting […]
North Garden inventory
(Jul 17, '15)
I’m asked often enough to name my favorite plant and season that it’s a little strange that hardly anyone* ever asks which is my favorite garden. Not that I could possibly pick a favorite (the pollinator garden). But since I featured the Rose Garden (my other favorite) last week, I can’t let this week go by without giving Blithewold’s pièce de […]
Rose Garden inventory
(Jul 10, '15)
Thank goodness for rainy days. Without them, we stay outside and never get around to tidying the potting shed, defrosting the fridge, or keeping up with the paperwork. (Not to mention how happy the gardens are after a good downpour.) I’m grateful too that Betsy worked on the blog last week because aside from the pleasure of seeing Blithewold’s gardens […]