via Preservation Society of Newport County
Today, The Preservation Society of Newport County (PSNC) delivered its 40 millionth tour of the Newport Mansions since its founding in 1945. David Denmark and Robin Levine Denmark, residents of Cross River, New York, became the 40 millionth tour visitors when they entered The Breakers at approximately 10:00 this morning. After completing their scheduled tour, the Denmarks were honored in the Great Hall of The Breakers by a host of dignitaries and was awarded a special ‘Gilded Age’ package by Preservation Society CEO and Executive Director Trudy Coxe and Preservation Society Chairman Monty Burnham, which includes an array of Newport experiences including two round-trip airline tickets on United Airlines, a two-night/three-day stay at a deluxe Newport property, a $150 gift card from Newport Restaurant Group, membership in the Preservation Society of Newport County for one year, a private tour of the mansions for two and a $250 gift card to The Newport Mansions Gift Shop. The Preservation Society first began giving tours in 1948, but it was not until 1965 that the organization reached the cumulative total of one million tours. It took 17 years to reach the first million tours, at an average rate of just under 59,000 tours a year, and now hosts an average of one million tours annually.
“We are so proud of achieving this milestone. Elevating our attendance numbers from 59,000 tours annually to one million per year is quite a feat,” said Trudy Coxe. “We were created to preserve the buildings and landscapes of Newport. I’m sure our founder, Kathryne Warren, would be so proud of this moment. The truth is, even with this kind of growth, we still do not raise all the funds we need to keep the buildings and grounds in good condition.”
To allow the public to join in the celebration of this milestone, The PSNC is launching an educational social media contest today on its Instagram page @newport_mansions, which will culminate in a grand prize winner to be announced on August 19th. The contest seeks to raise awareness of the organization’s educational programs, historic mission, and economic impact. Entrants will have the opportunity to win a variety of prizes with two winners being named each week. Upon the conclusion of the contest, one grand prize winner will receive a “Newport Experience” package similar to the surprise gift given to the 40 millionth tour visitor.
“This milestone is proof that Americans still care about history and the rest of the world still cares about American history,” said Monty Burnham, Chairman of the Board, The Preservation Society of Newport County. “People come from all 50 states and 125 countries every year to tour the mansions.”
“It would be hard to overstate the economic and cultural benefits to the Aquidneck Island community from The Preservation Society,” said Paul O’Reilly, CEO, Newport Harbor Corporation. “They are not only the number one tourist attraction in Newport that the local Hospitality Industry absolutely relies on, they are also quite possibly the largest and most consistent investor back into our community due to the funds they spend maintaining a large portfolio of treasured community real estate assets.”
The Newport Mansions currently consist of nine houses, The Breakers Stables and the Green Animals Topiary Garden. The Breakers was the first property to open for tours in 1948 with the purpose of raising money to save Hunter House. Not long afterward, Hunter House opened for tours along with The Breakers Stables, and in 1962, The Elms joined the lineup. In rapid succession, Marble House, Chateau-sur-Mer, Kingscote and Rosecliff also opened to tours. Green Animals Topiary Garden followed suit, followed by Chepstow, and the Isaac Bell House in 1996.
“Perhaps no other stakeholder in our destination has done more to attract visitors from around the globe to our destination than the Newport Mansions,” said Evan Smith, President & CEO, Discover Newport. “I don’t think there is any other place in the world that better showcases the confluence of America’s illustrious Gilded Age history with European-inspired architecture and on such a grand scale. As Rhode Island’s largest cultural organization, The Preservation Society of Newport County’s efforts to protect, preserve and most of all, share these properties with visitors is a treasure beyond compare and we send our sincere congratulations on your 40 millionth tour.”
The Newport Mansions are one of the most visited tourism destinations in New England, delivering more than one million tours annually which places it in the top four most-visited museums in New England. It is the largest member-supported organization in the state of Rhode Island with more than 40,000 members and is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. Of the 30,000 museums in the United States, approximately 1,000 are accredited by this prestigious organization.
“The impact that The Preservation Society of Newport County has had on the local economy by attracting visitors and growing our tourism industry for the Greater Newport region cannot be overstated,” said Erin Donovan-Boyle, Executive Director, Newport County Chamber of Commerce. “Kathryne Warren, in initially working with the support of the Newport Chamber of Commerce, was a visionary who knew the value of historical preservation and the importance of keeping our community intact for generations to come. Receiving the 40 millionth visitor exemplifies the relevance of that vision and the importance of placemaking and good public policy relative to well rounded community development, growth and preservation.”
Photo Caption (from left to right): Monty Burnham, Chairman of the Board, The Preservation Society of Newport County; Bill Corcoran, Attorney of Record, The Preservation Society of Newport County; Robin Levine Denmark, 40 millionth tour visitor; David Denmark, 40 millionth tour visitor; and Trudy Coxe, CEO/Executive Director, The Preservation Society of Newport County.
Photo Credit: David Hansen Photography