Preservation Society of Newport County Celebrates Opening of New Welcome Center at The Breakers


Sarah & Bernard Gewirz with Susan & Donald Ross

After more than 10 years of planning, work, and  opposition, The Preservation Society of Newport County was joined by nearly 600 supporters for a ribbon-cutting to celebrate the opening of its new Welcome Center at The Breakers.

Donald and Susan Ross with Governor Raimondo

The Event was combined with the annual meeting of The Preservation Society,and was complete with fanfares, honored guests, architects, designers and builders.  And it was sensational.


"This is an investment in Newport, in Rhode Island,  in our history and in our economy," said Governor Gina Raimondo to the audience at the Annual Meeting.  "I am proud of you and filled with gratitude for your commitment to Rhode Island, and on behalf of the people of Rhode Island, I thank you."


The Thompson Middle School band


The $5.5 million Welcome Center introduces visitors to the Newport Mansions inside a light-filled, park-like pavilion, inspired by late 19th century garden conservatory architecture, embedded in a newly rehabilitated historic garden. Four hundred and fifty thousand (450,000) people a year visit the former Vanderbilt mansion, which is now a National Historic Landmark and an icon of America’s Gilded Age.

Announcing the Agenda

"The Welcome Center will operate virtually unseen as it supplies a gracious introduction to  all of the Preservation Society's properties," said Preservation Society Chairman Monty Burnham.  "It will provide the cordial hospitality that our visitors deserve, with limited refreshments, climate controlled places to rest, and clean and accessible bathrooms. The 450,000 people who visit The Breakers from more than 100 countries every year deserve nothing less.”



Saluting the national anthem

The ceremony was infused with patriotic and stirring music by the  band of Thompson Middle School.  And banners were walked in front of the eager audience by young ladies, defining the point of program.  "Grace Under Fire" awards were presented by Trudy Coxe to all who helped in the battle to support and construct the stunning edifice.


William H. Lucey speaking

The lively meeting adjourned to the ribbon cutting, participated in by designers, builders, and officers of the Preservation Society.

A long  battle had been graciously won.


For full details on The Welcome Center and its architecture and construction, go to our "History & Architecture "page.

The Preservation Society of Newport County, Rhode Island, is a non-profit organization accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and dedicated to preserving and interpreting the area's historic architecture, landscapes, decorative arts and social history.  Its 11 historic properties--seven of them National Historic Landmarks--span more than 250 years of American architectural and social development.



 Elizabeth McMillen lauding the Welcome Center




Newport Mayor Harry Winthrop congratulating the Preservation Society



  Eaddo Kiernan with Doug Reed, of Reed Hilderbrand, Landscape Architects, accepting a Laurel Award




Doug Reed detailing the process and thanking the Preservation Society


  Archie vanBeuren speaking






Mike Behan, builder, describes the construction  project






  Deborah Epstein ( back to the camera) and Alan Joslin of Epstein Joslin Architects, Builders




Trudy Coxe, Executive Director of the Preservation Society, thanking all supporters



  Applause for the supporters of the initiative



  Principals lining up for the ribbon cutting


 Ready, set........




  Chairman of the PS board Monty Burnham, former President Donald O. Ross, & Executive Director Trudy Coxe



Monty Burnham & Donald O. Ross 


  An historical display inside the Center


  The food area with Nancy & Bill Wilson





  The member meeting post-ceremony


  Randal Poirier, Kaity Ryan of the Preservation Society, and Edward MacPherson of the Island Moving Company



  Friend,  Naomi Neville, Steve Waluk & Friend



  Steven Gewirz & Bill Wilson


The program --Triumph!




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