Have your ever wondered how many of America’s wealthiest families spend their summers?
In the lovely book, Living Newport Houses, People, Style, author Bettie Bearden Pardee shares an insider’s view into Newport, the playground of America’s elite. Pardee does an exceptional job of drawing the reader into a world of old-world homes, gate houses, garden follies and stables and carriage houses. What is most intriquing about the book is the stories of how this fabled City by the Sea has been built, generation by generation, while having the ability to evolve and keep its identity. What I find most endearing about this book is that Pardee pays reverence to the tenants held by Hadley Court of gracious living, timeless design and family traditions.
The book, Living Newport Houses, People, Style, is broken down by seasons featuring four to five subjects per season. The first chapters of the book opens with Spring and “Opening The Garden For the Season.” It seems only fitting being that the gardens are the first glimpse one sees of priveledged set who lives here. Few places in our country still maintain the kind of lifestyle which requires preparing the garden for the season. This way of life seems completely foreign to me. Being from the West Texas dessert, the idea of a lush, green gardens is only a dream.
One of the many chapters you will enjoy is the story of WM. K. Vanderbilt’s Firehouse. Cory and Matt Plumb could have lived in many places, but chose to settle in Newport. The couple fell in love with the old firehouse that Vanderbilt and his friends had erected in 1890 to keep fire fighters close at hand if the need arose. The Plumbs lovingly restored the old fire house into a family home and honored the Newport tradition of filling the house with friends.
Another chapter you won’t want to miss is Return to Camelot, profiling the long history of Hammersmith Farm. The 300 year old farm is the oldest working farm on the island. The Auchinclosses owned the property when Jacqueline Bouvier became part of the family when her mother married Hugh Auchincloss Jr. In 1953, following Jacqueline’s marriage to John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the farm became a “summer White House.” The most recent owners of the farm, the Kiernans, purchased the home because it truly gave a sense of embracing a family. Hammersmith’s restoration was extensive and was taken back to its original appearance of 1887. The Kiernans take pleasure in the fact that two-thirds of the original Auchincloss and Kennedy family furnishings have been refurbished.
Those fortunate to summer in Newport might have the priveldge of partaking in Coaching Weekend. The festivities center around impeccable antique coaches driven by appropriately dressed Whips accompagnied by footmen sporting colorful costumes played against the sparkling blue ocean. Its all about entertaining and being entertained, in the true tradition of Newport. Hospitality takes many forms, including breakfasts, picnic lunches, black-tie dinners and the Coaching Ball dinner dance at The Breakers, Cornelius Vanderbilt’s seventy room “cottage.”
Friends, this is just a small sampling of the delights awaiting you in Living Newport Houses, People, Style. I could go on and on about the many treasures you find in this book, but I don’t want to spoil the fun for you. This book will truly transport you into a seldom seen life of America’s elite with its velvety lawns, sandy beaches and grand architecture. I urge you to buy a copy Living Newport House, People, Style today!