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 06
- Wednesday, October 05
Saturday, April 16
- Saturday, October 08
Wednesday, May 04
- Monday, October 10
Stephen Procter Sanctuaries and Destinations: Clay Vessels in the Garden
Tuesday, May 31
- Tuesday, July 05
Archives and Collections Tour with Curator Margaret Whitehead
Wednesday, June 01
- Monday, October 10
Bristol Explorer Multi-Attraction Pass
Saturday, June 25
- Saturday, August 13
Summer Vacation Camp 2016
Ranunculus are here!
(May 27, '16)
Spring is definitely in full swing here and already hinting at summer! It was so warm this week that the lovely spring blooms we’ve been anxiously awaiting buckled a bit with the first blast of heat. They have since recovered, but not without making our hearts skip a beat thinking they may go by […]
Springing into action
(May 06, '16)
Despite the wretched weather this week, we ushered in May with a flurry of activity. The volunteers helped us pot up 100 dahlias in preparation for planting out in the gardens next month. They also transplanted Cosmos and Zinnia seedlings that will eventually be planted in the Cutting Garden. We are trialing about a dozen […]
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. […]