Blithewold Estate, located in Bristol, RI, is one the most intact and fully-developed examples in history of the Country Place Era in America. The estate is also nationally significant for its representation of the influence of the Arts and Crafts movement in the United States. A combination of decorative arts, horticulture, landscape architecture, and architecture, Blithewold is one of only a few New England estates from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century that retains its authenticity and integrity down to the fine details of interior furnishings, artifacts, family archives, and plant materials.
The Mansion, gardens, and outdoor buildings together form a significant precedent in the landscape of the New England country home that developed during the twentieth century. The vision for the Blithewold Estate was a park that contained distinctive features with the mansion as its center. The original intent was created in the Great Lawn, as well as the surrounding gardens. The aesthetic vision was also established in the name that was given to it, which means "happy woodland" in Old English.
Both the layout of the 1909 Garage, with its repair and fueling facilities, and the Mansion, with its laundry, kitchen, and other features, are reflective of the sensitive adaptation of both nineteenth century and medieval precedents to meet modern needs. These two buildings joined the site elements of the eighteenth and nineteenth century together to establish an appearance of a family retreat that had grown over two generations and several decades.
The gardens of the Blithewold Estate today feature a fusion of contemporary and historic gardening. The Cutting and Vegetable Gardens, Orchard, Enclosed Garden, and ten-acre Great Lawn were established during the late 1890's. In 1901, the Lord and Burnham Greenhouses were built, followed by the creation of the Water, Rose, and Bosquet Gardens during the early years of the 1900's. In 1911, the North Garden was laid out, followed by the Rock Garden during the 1920's.
Today, the Vegetable Garden continues to produce a plethora of crops every summer. Every season, Blithewold donates more than one thousand pounds of produce to the East Bay Food Pantry. Summer camp participants visit the garden to learn about growing and harvesting their own produce. The estate's Water Garden features a pond filled with water lilies as its centerpiece. The Asian-inspired elements of the landscape, the small island featuring an iron lantern, and the arched stone bridge all come together to create a beautiful garden.
The expansive ten-acre Great Lawn offers amazing views of Narragansett Bay, and is the ideal setting for more than five hundred different kinds of shrubs and trees. The Arboretum at Blithewold Estate's Bosquet, or "woodland" in French, features evergreen groundcovers, a tall deciduous tree canopy, and open views between the two. The Bosquet has been integral to the landscape of Blithewold since its conception in 1895. During the springtime, visitors can delight in seeing daffodils in the woodland space. Ferns and wildflowers appear when summer arrives, and colorful foliage is everywhere during the fall.
101 Ferry Road, Bristol, Rhode Island, Phone: 401-253-2707