The city of Newport, Rhode Island is one of the oldest in the nation, meaning it’s home to a large number of the country’s most historic buildings. Working to preserve some of these important spaces is the Preservation Society of Newport County, and in Issue 86 of American Lifestyle magazine, we take a look at one of the society’s largest projects—getting the incredible Newport Mansions ready for the holiday season.
An excerpt from “Tinsel and Tradition“
The Preservation Society was founded in 1945 by a small group of concerned citizens who banded together to save an important colonial building on the Newport waterfront, the Nichols Wanton-Hunter House, built in 1748, from demolition. They organized a group called The Georgian Society to purchase Hunter House. The name of the organization was changed shortly thereafter to The Preservation Society of Newport County.
In 1948, in order to raise money to restore Hunter House, the Countess Laszlo Szechenyi (Gladys Moore Vanderbilt) agreed to open her family’s summerhouse, The Breakers, for tours. With those revenues, the Preservation Society was able to restore Hunter House and went on to save and restore other threatened colonial properties. The Preservation Society acquired the other properties it operates today between 1962 and 1994, and, in 2004, the Preservation Society was awarded accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums, a mark of excellence in the museum community. In 2016, admissions to the Preservation Society’s properties, collectively known as the Newport Mansions, surpassed one million for the first time, making the Newport Mansions the only museum in New England outside of Boston to host more than a million tours in a single year.