Newport – Friday, March 20, 2015

Enjoyed the continental breakfast included at our hotel, checked out, and drove around to Ft. Adams, one of the Atlantic coastline defenses built after the War of 1812, just like Ft. Warren on George’s Island in Boston Harbor. The fort itself wasn’t open for tours till noon, so we just walked around outside, enjoying the harbor view – which is also the view from the main stage at the Newport Jazz Festival.

Another day, another mansion! On to Chateau Sur Mer, the precursor to the Gilded Age mansions, completed in 1852 by the Wetmore family, which made its fortune in the China trade. It’s a grand Victorian-style home, with flowering frescoes covering the ceilings and undersides of the grand staircases in the entrance-way. Richard Morris Hunt, the Beaux Arts-trained architect, remodeled the mansion in the 1870s for the 2nd generation. Its lavishness wasn’t outstripped until Hunt started working on the Vanderbilt “cottages” in the 1890s. The Moon Gate on the grounds shows the China-trade influence.

Moon Gate

Moon Gate

The Newport Art Museum is housed in the Griswold House, also designed by Hunt, in the Modern Gothic style, soon to be known as “stick style.” The Museum hosts artists with a RI connection – one Chihuly piece! Next door is the Redwood Library & Athenaeum, the oldest lending library in America, and the oldest library building in continuous use in the country, founded in 1747. It displays an impressive collection of old portraits, and old books.

Enjoyed lunch at Meg’s Aussie Milk Bar, with all kinds of Australian decor, including the proprietor. Great sandwiches, service, and friendliness.

Around the corner is a plaque marking the corner as the site of the U.S. Naval Academy, which decamped to Newport during the Civil War, since Annapolis was too close to the Confederate states. IMG_5783

Across the street is lovely little Touro Park, donated by Judah Touro – with statues, gardens, paths, and the old stone Newport Tower, built around 1650 by Rhode Island’s first Colonial governor Benedict Arnold (grandfather of the Revolutionary War traitor). Or built by Vikings – no one’s sure, but Arnold did own it. The base of the statue, designed by Hunt (he’s everywhere!), of Commodore Matthew Perry features 4 bronze bas-relief sculptures of his significant achievements – including opening Japan to trade.





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