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History of Newport and the Mansions
Founded in 1639, Newport was an important port city, a center of the slave trade, a fashionable resort and the summer home of the Gilded Age rich.
What was the Gilded Age?
The Gilded Age was a period of unprecedented change in America. Fortunes were spent on luxuries such as the lavish "summer cottages" of Newport.
Deep Dive into the Show
Learn about the people, places and events depicted in Julian Fellowes' popular historical drama series.
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Become a Member
We invite you to become a member of the Preservation Society today. In addition to joining an active community of preservation supporters and advocates, members are offered unlimited access to all open houses.
Our mission is to protect, preserve, and present the best of Newport County's architectural heritage. Learn more about us and our work.
Wind Farm Federal Appeal: FAQs
The Preservation Society of Newport County is appealing federal agency approval of two massive wind farms off the Rhode Island coast.
Personal Photography on the Grounds
Rent our museums for commercial photography & videography, TV production, and wedding photography.
Commercial Filming or Photography
Museum Rentals & Weddings
Host your wedding, rehearsal dinner, corporate event, or other celebration at our historic museums.
Fashion is a powerful tool used to signal wealth and status. But who were the dressmakers skillfully creating the garments for privileged Newporters? Theresa Guzmán Stokes, President of 1696 Heritage Group and Executive Director of the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society, will present the life and history of dressmaker Mary Dickerson (1830-1914). Dickerson owned a “Fashionable Dressmaking Establishment” located off Bellevue Avenue and created dresses for the prominent people of Newport during the Gilded Age. She also established the first federation of African American Women’s Clubs in Rhode Island. Elaine Nichols, Supervisory Curator of Culture at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, will join us to discuss the life and work of Ann Lowe (1898-1981), one of America’s most significant designers. Lowe created the bridal gown and bridal party dresses for the Newport wedding of Jacqueline Bouvier and John F. Kennedy in 1953, although she was not credited for her work at the time. Ms. Nichols and Ms. Stokes will discuss the prejudices that Dickerson and Lowe faced and why it is important to remember their valuable contributions to fashion and history.
Theresa Guzmán Stokes is a writer, mother, historian, community activist, editor, feminist, US military veteran, and storyteller who inspires and illuminates the complex and woven narratives of African Heritage, Latin American and Jewish Diasporic histories. Utilizing the tools of history, genealogy and cultural preservation, the Guatemalan-heritage Stokes is fiercely committed to bringing to light the untold stories of the state of Rhode Island. Ms. Stokes is an innovative leader and creator with two decades of service to causes, organizations and people that are committed to moving the needle on empowering communities of color, women and youth. After service in the United States Navy, Stokes centered her professional work on creatively presenting deeply researched stories and projects on the Ocean State and its historic roots. She has participated in and supervised dozens of historic preservations, genealogical and cultural resource investigations throughout New England and Virginia. She is president and founder of 1696 Heritage Group, a historical consulting firm dedicated to helping persons and institutions of color to increase their knowledge and access to the light of truth of their unique American heritage. Stokes is also the founder of Historical Writers of America, a non-profit organization whose mission is to celebrate, support and connect ALL historical writers. Ms. Stokes’ legacy work is as Executive Director of the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society (RIBHS), the oldest African Heritage society in the United States.
Elaine Nichols is the Supervisory Curator of Culture at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) and the curator responsible for the museum’s collection of dress, fashion, textiles, dolls, toys and games. She has also served as the project curator for the Civil Rights History Project, a collaboration with the Library of Congress that collected oral histories of more than 100 grassroots activists, supporters, and national leaders who were involved in the Civil Rights Movement during the 1950s and 1960s. Prior to coming to the NMAAHC, Nichols worked at the South Carolina State Museum in Columbia as a curator of history. She helped to build its collections related to African Americans and women from the Palmetto State. Ms. Nichols has a Master’s of Art in Public Service Archaeology from the University of South Carolina and a Master’s of Art in Social Administration and Planning from Case Western Reserve University.
Event thumbnail photo credit: Executive Board Members of the Women’s League of Newport, RI. Mary Dickerson is center, back row. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.
Explore the underground systems that made this great house a marvel of technology for its time.
See and hear how the other half lived. This tour will highlight the stories of some of the men and women who worked to service the social whirl of Newport during the Gilded Age.
Explore China’s deep influence on Newport from the 18th century through the Gilded Age. This exhibition brings together more than 100 extraordinary objects and illuminates how many different people of Chinese heritage, including artists, merchants, immigrant entrepreneurs and women suffragists, shaped all aspects of life in Newport.
This outdoor spectacle of holiday lights will dazzle and delight you! The 13-acre landscape of The Breakers turns into a wonderland of color and light. Includes tour of the lavish decorated rooms inside the house. Open on select evenings through the season. Includes The Breakers interior tour during the same visit.
A great Newport tradition! See The Breakers, Marble House and The Elms dressed in their festive holiday finery. It’s the most spectacular time of the year at these awe-inspiring Gilded Age mansions.
Our annual black-tie holiday event is sold out. The waitlist is at capacity and has been closed. Happy Holidays to all!
Preservation Society members, this evening is for you! Enjoy music, food, drinks and conversation amid the holiday décor in The Elms.
After a one-year sojourn to Marble House, New England’s premier flower show returns to Rosecliff with the theme of “At Home.”
Save the dates for the 19th annual festival, featuring the Vintner Dinner, Sunday Brunch and tasty yet educational seminar experiences.
Download our tour app before your visit and bring your earbuds.
Parking is free onsite at all properties except for Hunter House and The Breakers Stable & Carriage House, where street parking is available.
Answers to some of our most frequently asked questions.
Explore the 11 properties under the stewardship of the Preservation Society and open as historic house museums.
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