Rovensky Park & Its Neighbors: Open Space Preserved

Rovensky Park & Its Neighbors: Open Space Preserved (HMWS3)

Location: Newport, RI 02840 Newport County
Country: United States of America

N 41° 27.61', W 71° 18.389'

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Endowed with spectacular natural scenery and a gentle climate, Newport was a gardener's paradise. This section of Bellevue Avenue reflects the rich horticultural heritage of the city and centuries of garden design, estate development, and land conservation. Beaulieu's extensive acreage was continually subdivided to make way for more summer cottages. The Widener family demolished three Victorian cottages to build the grand Miramar estate, famed for its formal French gardens. Today, Rovensky Park ensures the preservation of the area's historic character from being altered by new construction.

Voices from the Past
"The Island is exceedingly pleasant and healthful; and is celebrated for its fine women. Travelers, with propriety, call it the Eden of America"
Jedediah Morse writing on Newport and its environs in The United States of America, 1789

1. ? Rovensky Park

· The only undeveloped space on Bellevue Avenue, Rovensky Park was never the site of a building. Several prominent China Trade families with cottages on Bellevue Avenue owned parcels of the land that became Rovensky Park.
· In 1956 Mae C. Rovensky's will left a bequest to The Preservation Society of Newport County to acquire and maintain a park, creating what the bequest described as "breathing space for the city." Mrs. Rovensky's gift preserved the historic character of the district from further development.

"There is very little land available for such public use within the city limits . . . and the trend has been to convert all spaces in some utilitarian purpose like housing."
Robert Kerr, Director of The Preservation Society of Newport County, 1960.

2. ? Weetamoe
(c. 1872)
Architects : Peabody and Stearns

· Alfred Smith owned much of the farmland along Bellevue Avenue and promoted the area in the mid-19th century as a fashionable summer resort. He subdivided lots and encouraged the cottage construction boom during the 1870s.
· He sold the site of Weetamoe to Hannah Swift, who hired the prominent Boston firm of Peabody and Stearns to build her Stick Style cottage.
· Nathaniel Thayer III, grandson of a noted Massachusetts clergyman, purchased the house in 1902. The Frazer family eventually named it Catnip Cottage.
· The house remains a private residence.

3. ? Four Winds
(c. 1871)
Architects : George Champlin Mason, Sr.;
remodeled by Ogden Codman, Jr. in 1895

· George Champlin Mason, Sr. built a Stick Style house in 1871 for Harriet Crowninshield. She was a member of a prominent family of successful merchants and political leaders descended from some of the first Massachusetts settlers in 17th century Salem.
· Mason remodeled the house with Queen Anne Revival style additions in 1881 for Boston-based railroad investor Nathaniel Thayer, Jr., whose son later lived in the house to the north. In 1895, Thayer hired Ogden Codman, Jr. to design a Classical Revival style addition to keep up with the latest fashion.
· The house remains a private residence.

4. ? The Beeches
(c. 1870)
Architect : George Champlin Mason, Sr.

· George Champlin Mason, Sr. designed this Second Empire French style house for sugar merchant Moses Lazarus of New York, who lived in the house in the 1870s.
· Lazarus' daughter Emma became a prolific writer and feminist. An excerpt from her sonnet The New Colossus (1883) is inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free . . . ".
· Moses supported Emma's writing both intellectually and financially. Transcendentalist writer Ralph Waldo Emerson also mentored and encouraged her.
· The Beeches remains a private residence.

5. ? Beaulieu
Architect : Calvert Vaux

· Peruvian ambassador Frederico Barreda built this Italianate style house in 1854 on his estate, which included about 15 acres now occupied by Clarendon Court and Miramar.
· Architect Calvert Vaux, who also designed Mrs. Astor's Beechwood two lots to the north, was renowned for his work on New York's Central Park with Frederick Law Olmsted.
· Mr. and Mrs. William Waldorf Astor owned Beaulieu from the 1870s to 1901, when it was sold to Brigadier General Cornelius Vanderbilt III and his wife Grace, a leading society hostess.
· The house remains a private residence.

6. ? Clarendon Court
Architect : Horace Trumbauer

· Horace Trumbauer modeled this Georgian Revival style house after an 18th century design by Colen Campbell. Clarendon Court was home to Edward Collins Knight, Jr., son of a Philadelphia sugar refiner and director of the Pennsylvania Railroad.
· The estate was acquired in 1930 by Mae Cadwell Hayward, who later married the powerful New York banker and financier, John E. Rovensky.
· The entrance gates to Clarendon Court were featured in the 1956 movie High Society starring Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby, and Frank Sinatra.
· Mr. and Mrs. Claus von Bulow owned Clarendow Court from 1970 to 1988.
· The house remains a private residence.

7. ? Miramar
Architect : Horace Trumbauer

· One of the last grand Gilded Age cottages, Miramar opened in 1915.
· George Widener, a Philadelphia transportation magnate, commissioned Horace Trumbauer to design the Classical Revival style Miramar. Although he had no formal training in architecture, Trumbauer had designed The Elms (1901), Chetwode (1903), and Clarendon Court (1904) on Bellevue Avenue.
· Mr. Widener and his son Harry died on the Titanic in 1912. George's widow, Eleanor Elkins Widener, completed Miramar. She also funded Harvard University's Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library in her son's memory.
· Mrs. Widener died in 1937. Upon her second husband's death in 1957, Miramar passed to the Rhode Island Episcopal Diocese and later to a girls' school.
· Today, Miramar is a private residence. The house and grounds are undergoing extensive conservation.

Bellevue Avenue: A Preservation History

The Preservation Society of Newport County.

Bellevue Avenue National Historic Landmark District

Bellevue Avenue is a treasury of American architecture from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Generations of the nation's leading architects made Newport a laboratory for design during the city's "cottage" construction boom. This remarkable architectural legacy in American culture was almost lost through demolitions and neglect during the latter half of the 20th century.

This self guided walking tour consists of several history markers along both sides of Bellevue Avenue. Most of the buildings on this tour are private residences. Please respect their privacy.

The Bellevue Avenue History Marker Project is sponsored by The Preservation Society of Newport County, a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to preserving Newport's architectural heritage.

For more stories and photos of the architecture, history and preservation of Bellevue Avenue, visit and click on education.
HM NumberHMWS3
Placed ByThe Newport Restoration Foundation & The Preservation Society of Newport County
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Friday, October 3rd, 2014 at 8:22pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)19T E 307370 N 4592409
Decimal Degrees41.46016667, -71.30648333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 41° 27.61', W 71° 18.389'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds41° 27' 36.60" N, 71° 18' 23.34" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)401
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 601-633 Bellevue Ave, Newport RI 02840, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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