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.
Tuesday, March 31
- Sunday, May 17
Friday, April 03
- Friday, May 01
Daffodils at Dusk
Tuesday, April 14
- Friday, May 15
Afternoon Tea in the Dining Room
Wednesday, April 15
- Wednesday, October 07
Wednesday Walk-Around, a Guided Tour of Blithewold
Tuesday, April 28
- Tuesday, May 12
Sogetsu Ikebana 3-Part Course at Blithewold
Thursday, April 30
A Walk with the Director
(Apr 24, '15)
All of our predictions (and hopes back in February and March) about the daffodils putting on a show for vacation week were spot-on. It has been a real spring spectacular! Not only did the daffodils come through for us but other beauties have joined the party too, including a few very early tulips. And just […]
Fresh air and exercise
(Apr 17, '15)
This past week was just what the doctor ordered. Sunshine and temperatures in the 50s and 60s made being up and out absolutely irresistible — for us and the spring flowers we’ve been waiting so (im)patiently for. Everything that, as of last week, still seemed tightly budded and winter-stunted is suddenly busting to bloom. The daffodils have started opening and, depending […]
(Apr 10, '15)
I don’t want you to get too excited by the title of this post. Signs of spring are popping out, bit by bit, but we’re not seeing many flowers yet. We’re still waiting for the daffodils to make an appearance. That said, feel free to do a little dance if you want to (I do) because it won’t […]