Look for a small increase in people, traffic, and activities around the city’s museums, mansions, and historic sites. A welcome “heat wave” has arrived in Newport County following last week’s snow blast and sub-arctic temperatures. This will be a good week to get out and take advantage of learning opportunities at several history and education venues. It’s also a perfect time to explore new job opportunities opening this Spring & Summer.
CURRENT, PROSPECTIVE & FUTURE TOUR GUIDES
The relatively slow peacefulness of Newport’s Winter is an ideal time to experience several different types of tours. Guide-led tours are available in several of the Newport mansion houses – weekdays at the Breakers, the Elms, and Marble House. For a taste of professional audio tours, also try these three houses on weekends in January & February. Rosecliff offers audio tours daily through February 25th.
The winter season is also a good time to experience guide-led tours at other venues, including the Newport Restoration Foundation’s Rough Point, the Redwood Museum, Newport Art Museum, and properties of the Newport Historical Society. Experiencing a variety of tours and subject themes will give you a greater appreciation for the history and heritage of Newport and its importance in the history of our nation.
The Newport Historical Society has four great walking tours coming up in mid-February you might consider. Two tours step off on Saturday, February 17th include Rogues & Scoundrels (11am – 12 noon) and a Lantern Tour of Colonial Newport (4-5 pm). Sunday, February 18th has the popular Discover Colonial Newport (11 am – 12 noon). Monday, February 19th offers the Road to Independence tour. Tours depart from the Society’s Museum and Shop at 127 Thames Street. Additional information and reservations may be made by calling 401/841-8770.
SPEAKERS & PRESENTATIONS THIS MONTH
Check out the wide selection of lectures, exhibits, talks, classes, and workshops to add to your knowledge and increase your understanding of the people and history of greater Newport.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 14
The Redwood Library & Athenaeum
A Concert in Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The combined choirs of Community Baptist Church and Mount Zion A.M.E. Church present a program of spirituals, gospel music and brief narration of Black history. Free and all are welcome. 50 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI 02840, 401-847-0292. Information: redwoodlibrary.org
THURSDAY, JANUARY 18
On Thursday, January 18 at 5:30 pm, the Newport Historical Society will host David Kohnen of the Naval War College as he discusses the importance of baseball in WWI. A century ago, as American forces mobilized to the European front in the First World War, the President of the Naval War College, Rear Admiral William S. Sims, sailed incognito on a secret mission to London. Through a series of accidents, Sims became the first senior American commander to arrive on the European front in April of 1917.
The presentation, “‘Hot Dogs’ and a ‘Great’ War” takes place at the NHS Resource Center, 82 Touro Street, Newport, RI, and costs $5 per person, $1 for NHS members, active and retired military with ID.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 21
Motors & Mimosas will be the theme at the Audrain Auto Museum (222 Bellevue Avenue, Newport; 401/856-4420) in partnership with La Forge Casino Restaurant. Visitors will enjoy mimosas and pastries while viewing the current exhibit, Grand Touring Cars Through the Decades. 10 am – 12 Noon.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 23
Tonight is the first class in a weekly 4-part mini-course on The Architects & Architecture of the Newport Mansions. Led by Abigail Stewart, Education & Interpretive Specialist with The Preservation Society of Newport County, this education series will explore the architectural styles that define the properties of the Preservation Society. Classes held at 6 pm at the Preservation Society offices, 424 Bellevue Avenue, Newport. Advance reservations required. Register online (newportmansions.org) or call 401-847-1851.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR FOR THESE
UPCOMING NOTEWORTHY EVENTS IN FEBRUARY ⬥ MARCH ⬥ APRIL
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 15
Newport is a city known for firsts. Between 1755-1756, the first anatomical and surgical lectures in the Colonies were presented by Dr. William Hunter at the Colony House.
On Thursday, February 15, 2018, at 5:30 pm, the Newport Historical Society will recreate aspects of Dr. Hunter’s talk when they host an 18th-century medical lecture. Dr. Hunter, portrayed by first-person interpreter Seán O’Brien, will share insight on the latest medical knowledge from England while discussing remedies and cures that are available at his 18th-century apothecary shop.
A selection of Dr. Hunter’s products, made by Caswell-Massey, will be available for purchase. This event takes place at the Colony House on Washington Square, the same location where the medical lectures originally took place. General admission costs $5 per person or $1 for Newport Historical Society members along with active duty and retired military.
FRIDAY, MARCH 9
The Museum of Newport Irish History [newportirishhistory.org] will offer special opening hours (Noon to 6 pm) for six days during Irish Heritage Month in March, beginning on Friday, March 9th. The museum at 648 Lower Thames Street in Newport will be open March 9, 10, 11, 16, 17 and 18. The regular season starts with a grand re-opening Memorial Day Weekend, beginning on Saturday, May 26th. Learn here about Irish immigration to Newport County and the key aspects of Irish influence and contributions to life in Newport.
TUESDAY, MARCH 20
NEWPORT COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE ANNUAL EXPO & JOB FAIR 2018
Tuesday, March 20, 2018, 4-7 pm
Gurney’s Newport Resort & Marina ⬥ One Goat Island, Newport, RI 02840
SATURDAY, MARCH 24
Bohemian Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement & Oscar Wilde’s Newport, a new exhibit developed and organized by Audrey Householder, Curator of Exhibitions at the Preservation Society of Newport County, will open to the public at Rosecliff on March 24th. The new exhibition is scheduled to run through November 4th.
THURSDAY, APRIL 5
The Newport Restoration Foundation’s (NRF) historic Rough Point mansion will re-open on Thursday, April 5th for Guided Tours. The Foundation will celebrate its 50th anniversary this year. This year its exhibitions, as posted on its website (newportrestoration.org) will be: “‘To Preserve and Restore’: Newport Restoration Foundation at 50, an exploration of NRF’s past, present, and future as the organization reaches its 50th anniversary, and A Hand in Design: Exquisite Drawings of Jewelry and Architecture for Doris Duke, a collaboration between NRF and David Webb New York, jewelry designer to Duke and many other prominent figures from 1948 to the present.” Rough Point will be open for tours through November 11th. Don’t miss this.
NEWPORT TOUR GUIDES & GREETERS NEWS EXTRAS
The Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation’s Largest Home (Touchstone, 2017), by Denise Kiernan. This is the fascinating true story of another place and time when a wealthy family, a genius architect, a visionary landscape designer, and a vast supporting cast of friends, lovers, business rivals, and family members created a world we can only imagine today but which has been captured magically by historian Denise Kiernan. This history of the planning and building of George Washington Vanderbilt’s 178,926 square foot home at Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina is also the story of the Vanderbilt family in Newport and New York. Here are all the Vanderbilt’s, architect Richard Morris Hunt, landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted, and a thousand others who contributed to the realization of the “last castle.” For anyone who loves history and architecture and great achievement, this book offers wonderful insights and new details of an amazing era and the lives of a singular American family.
TOUR GUIDES IN THE MOVIES
Hollywood films often feature Tour Guides and Greeters. They make great characters. In the 1950 film, “The Reformer and the Redhead,” actress June Allyson, driving a modified passenger bus, plays a Tour Guide for the zoo owned by her father. A fun film that occasionally is screened on Turner Classic Movies (TCM).
June Allyson, with early oversized lavaliere microphone, drives a modified tour
bus as a zoo tour guide in the 1950 film, “The Reformer and The Redhead.”
UPCOMING SUMMER EVENTS
Add these special summer events to your calendar now so you can share them with visitors and guests and also so you don’t miss them yourself.
THE NEWPORT SHOW ∙ JULY 28-29, 2018
The annual Newport Antiques Show has a new name this year, The Newport Show. This luxury show will, as it has since 2007, feature antique furniture, fine art, jewelry, and unique vintage items from more than 40 dealers. Watch for more details about this show in the coming months. The Newport Show will again be held at the St. George’s School Ice Rink, 375 Purgatory Road, Middletown, RI, and will run July 28 and 29, 2018. Updates at www.TheNewportShow.com. Proceeds benefit the Newport Historical Society and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Newport County.
2018 WEEKEND OF COACHING ⬥ AUGUST 16-19, 2018
Every three years, aficionados of horse-drawn 19th-century road coaches gather in Newport for a big summer Weekend of Coaching. This year marks the third year since the last event. During the weekend of August 16-19, 2018 the Preservation Society of Newport County will host the biggest Weekend of Coaching ever. The weekend will feature driving exhibitions, viewing of the historic coaches as they drive around the streets of Newport, and tickets to a formal dinner dance at the Breakers on Saturday, August 18th. The weekend is led by Honorary Chair Linda Lindh with co-chairs Kenneth Lindh and Beverly Little. Ted Eayrs is the Chair of Coaching. Event updates and ticket information is available at www.newportmansions.org/events/a-weekend-of-coaching
KENNETH PROUDFOOT is a travel and tour guide, documentary film producer, and author of The Official 2018 Newport Tour Guides & Greeters Handbook.