In October, 1997, the First Year Program will travel to Newport to observe the transformation in society over two centuries, from America’s Colonial origins to its great industrial strength during the Gilded Age.  Founded in 1623 by settlers seeking religious freedom, the city later gained wealth through the Triangle Trade [dealing in African slaves, West-Indian sugar, and Newport rum] and also through trade with the Far East.  The city boasts one of the first libraries, the oldest extant synagogue, homes of Governors, and mansions of the American social elite who built huge summer “cottages” for the Newport season.  Dedicated preservation of the city’s buildings allows fascinating insights into the uses of wealth, social stratification, religion, taste, gender roles, and sources of artistic inspiration.  Such a study reflects the First Year Program’s theme, In a world of contradictions, how then shall we live?
Unless otherwise noted, all photographs are by Virginia C. Raguin, Professor of Art History, College of the Holy Cross.

Hunter House, 1748, built for Jonathan Nicholas Jr.  Furnished with examples of Newport’s great colonial furniture makers, the Towsend-Goddard family.

 Brick Market- architect Peter Harrison.

 Old Colony House- architect Richard Munday.

 Touro Synagogue, 1763, oldest Jewish house of worship in North America, founded by Spanish-Portuguese Jews, and still following the Sephardic Orthodox ritual. (Link to Touro Synangogue)

 Redwood Library and Athenaeum, 1748-50, oldest library building in the United States in continuous use, designed by Benjamin Harrison. Bronze statue of George Washington by the French sculptor, Houdon. (Link to Redwood Library)

Château-sur-Mer  Built in 1852, although large, the house is not a summer collage, but a family residence.  The owner, William Wetmore made his wealth in the China trade, then used it to found a banking company.  His son, George Peabody Wetmore, graduated Yale and Columbia Law school, later to become twice governor of Rhode Island and U. S. senator.  In 1870 he engaged Richard Morris Hunt, in the first of his great Newport commissions, to enlarge and modernize the house

 Château-sur-Mer, 1852, enlarged in 1871-78, front. Architect of second phase, William Morris Hunt, working for owners George Peabody Wetmore and Edith Keteltas Wetmore.  Family fortune first acquired in China trade, then banking and real estate.

Marble House 1892:  Both the design and the furnishing of the lavish house owe much to Alva Erskine Smith, who had married William K. Vanderbilt.  She told the architect Richard Morris Hunt her models and her requirements. The rooms show extremely purposeful and correct emulation of predominately French Baroque and Rococo models that Alva knew from her pre-marriage life in France.  The House itself is based on the Petit Trianon at Versailles.  She bought paintings showing portraits of French royalty.  In 1914 she built a Chinese Teahouse overlooking the ocean as the final touch to the estate.

Marble House 1892, architect Richard Morris Hunt.

Ochre Court, now Salve Regina University. Located in the historic Cliff Walk,  Built for Ogden Goelet in 1892 by the architect Richard Morris Hunt.

American Suburban Style: “Shingle” and “Stick” styles of architecture
Used by McKim Mead and White (also Boston Public Library) and H. H. Richardson (Trinity Church, Boston).  These styles set the standard for the detached suburban home found through the United States, including Worcester.  These are large, comfortable buildings 1850s-1900, with large wrap around porches, broad foyers with curved stairs, and open, flowing spaces for much communication among the room and relaxed living.

The Breakers, a summer collage of Cornelius Vanderbilt (1843-1899), grandson of “Commodore” Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877), founder of the family fortune based first on steam boats, then railroads.  The Commodore acquired control of the Hudson River Railroad and New York Central Railroad.  Richard Morris Hunt, architect of many of the great homes in Newport, designed the Breakers after Italian Renaissance models, with a large central court, that functioned as a ball room, and open-air loggias looking over the sea.

The Breakers, exterior, from the sea, the home of Cornelius Vanderbilt, architect Richard Morris Hunt.  The house is patterned after Italian Renaissance models