An ornate staircase in an ornate building.

Preservation Society of Newport Gilded Age fall programs

The Preservation Society of Newport County’s educational offerings for early autumn will include a treat for flower lovers at Green Animals Topiary Garden and a lecture series on Gilded Age transportation at Rosecliff and via Zoom.

On Friday, September 30, from 10 a.m.-11 a.m., Green Animals Chief Horticulturist Dan Christina will present “Dahlias with Dan,” an exclusive tour of the property’s dahlia garden during its peak season. Christina will share tips and tricks on growing this favorite late-blooming flower. The tour is limited to 18 participants and advance registration is required through Tickets cost $10 for Preservation Society members and $15 for non-members.

Transportation will be the subject of The Preservation Society’s Gilded Age Fall Lecture Series, beginning Thursday, October 6, at 6 p.m. with “The Advent of the Automobile.”

Other lectures in this series include “Night Boats to Newport: Remembering the ‘Floating Palaces’ of the Illustrious Fall River Line” on Thursday, October 20, at 6 p.m., and “The Legacy of the Transcontinental Railroad” on Thursday, November 3, at 6 p.m.

Attendance to these lectures in person in the Rosecliff Ballroom is $15 per member, $20 per non-member. Attending via Zoom costs $10 per person. Visit to learn more and to register.

In “The Advent of the Automobile,” expert panelists will discuss the rise of automobile industries from Detroit to Newport. Historian and author Howard Kroplick will relay stories of William K. Vanderbilt Jr. racing in Newport and the prestigious Vanderbilt Cup Race held on Long Island. Madelyn Rzadkowolski, Curator at Meadow Brook Hall in Rochester, Michigan, will share stories about the Dodge brothers and early car shows. Robert Signom III, Curator of America’s Packard Museum, will reveal the heated exchanges that resulted in the creation of the Ohio Automobile Company. 

The series continues October 20 with “Night Boats to Newport: Remembering the ‘Floating Palaces’ of the Illustrious Fall River Line,” presented by award-winning journalist and author John Henry. The former reporter for Newsday and the New York Daily News will discuss the year-round overnight passenger steamboat service between New York, Newport and Fall River, Mass., from 1847 to 1937. Noted for their reliability, impressive size and sumptuous public rooms, the company’s elegant white steamers offered a means of transportation befitting the Gilded Age, attracting the patronage of many of the most powerful and prominent people in the country, as well as ordinary folks. 

The series concludes Thursday, November 3, with “The Legacy of the Transcontinental Railroad.” Panelists Dr. Betsy Fahlman and Dr. Manu Karuka examine the impact to American industry, art and migration that followed the completion of America’s first transcontinental railroad in 1869. 

The Preservation Society of Newport County, Rhode Island, is a nonprofit organization accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. It is 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.


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