Events

   Events

Bringing History to Life in Unique Ways

Through Hearthside’s creative and entertaining programs, learning about history can be both engaging and fun. Each year, a different schedule of events is developed, with some programs being annual favorites, while others may only be offered every other year. The result is an ever-changing menu of themes and innovative ideas being presented that offer appeal to a wide range of interests and audiences.

Please enjoy browsing the images in our events gallery below, and check our 
Annual Calendar to plan your visit.
"Such unique events from the World's Fair to Victorian mourning to tea time. A beautiful building with a ton of interesting history."

Services List

Hearthside's Tribute to the 1904 World's Fair

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The 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis has been referred to as the “Greatest World’s Fair ever” and in 2014, Hearthside paid tribute to that international event with a special exhibit and event that featured Rhode Island’s important role in it. An extensive exhibit, funded by the RI Council for the Humanities, was displayed throughout the rooms in the house, included photographic displays, interpretive panels, video presentation, and memorabilia that were donated to Hearthside by the Murch family of St. Louis. Patrons learned about Hearthside’s connection to this international exhibition, as it was the model for the Rhode Island Building (and later became a home to the Murch family after the Fair).

The exhibit continued outdoors with a “festival-like” atmosphere reminiscent of “The Pike,” with entertainment, games, and foods found at the 1904 Fair. This event provides a nostalgic look back at a time when airplanes, automobiles and ice cream cones were new inventions and the simple pleasures of old-fashioned games of skill kept everyone engaged and entertained, which is not an easy thing to do in this digital age. With our permanent collection of 1904 World’s Fair artifacts and because of the overwhelming popularity of the event, the event was repeated in 2015 and will continue to be a featured offering by Hearthside in the future.

Color & Light: Early 20th Century Portraits of Hearthside

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During the summer of 2012, Hearthside hosted a photography exhibit, Color & Light: Early 20th Century Portraits of Hearthside, which was later nationally recognized with a “Leadership in History Award” given by the American Association for State and Local History, as well as written up in an article in the National Endowment for the Arts magazine. The exhibit booklet for the event was also given an honor by the New England Museum Association with a Publications Award. The beauty of Hearthside was captured 100 years ago in a new photographic process at the time known as “hand-colored photography.” 

Fifty photographs by nationally-renowned photographer David Davidson and Rufus Waterman, a lesser known photographer who emulated Davidson’s work, had recently been discovered in their original pristine condition by descendants of the Talbot family, who were living at Hearthside at the time. With a grant from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, Friends of Hearthside was able to mat and frame the artwork and hosted a major exhibit featuring these extraordinary pieces, displayed in the same locations in which they were taken between 1907 and 1912.

For the first time, a glimpse of what the rooms in this home looked like was available. In addition to the photographs, the exhibit also included displays of Davidson’s original box style camera and artifacts from his Providence studio, and even the shawl worn in many of the photographs. The Color & Light exhibit was a unique blend of art and history. While the artifacts were on loan from the Davidson family and have been returned, the 50 photographs that were donated to Hearthside by the Talbot family remain in our collection.

Gone But Not Forgotten: Victorian Mourning Customs

2016 Dates: Oct. 15, 23, 29, & 30
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Each October, Hearthside, and all of its volunteers, get draped in black, giving all who pass by the message that this is a house in mourning. The occasion is the wake and funeral of former Hearthside owner, Simon E. Thornton, who died on May 2, 1873. His body was prepared at the house by the undertaker, who came with his equipment and a portable embalming table. The coffin was displayed in the Drawing Room where visitors would come and pay their respects. Following the ceremony, the coffin would be carried out of the house and into a waiting hearse to bring it to the gravesite for burial.

Hearthside re-creates the Victorian mourning customs practiced during the time when Simon Thornton passed away, with displays in each room of the house that include mourning clothing, mourning clothing, jewelry, artwork, stationery displays, post mortem photography, and other funerary exhibits. To kick off the inaugural exhibit in 2012, a funeral ceremony was featured, complete with an 1868 hearse.

Old Fashioned Christmas

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There’s no place like Hearthside at Christmas time. The house is decorated so beautifully that it is no wonder it was selected to be featured in Yankee Magazine, Worcester Living Magazine, and two books about “Christmas at Historic Houses.” Each year, volunteers spend weeks decorating to transform the mansion back to a turn-of-the-century Christmas. Visitors to Hearthside delight in the magic of a Christmas from long ago as they enter the house and are greeted by our volunteers dressed in period attire.

Each room is elaborately decorated with Victorian ornamentation of lace and gold, festive garlands, and countless poinsettias and many special personal touches brought in by the volunteers from their own holiday collections. The festive atmosphere is enhanced with live seasonal music and caroling, homemade cookies and hot cider, and a gift shop stocked with holiday gifts. The amber glow of candlelight and the white lights of the gaily decorated trees add to the warmth of this beautiful home, making it a popular destination to visit after Christmas for candlelight tours during the vacation week before New Year’s.

Afternoon Teas

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It’s a return to the gentle splendor of a bygone era at Hearthside, with spring flowers, elegant hats, delicate lace, dainty teacups and fancy finger foods as Friends of Hearthside hosts its annual Afternoon Tea on the second Saturday in May. This popular event, especially as a Mother’s Day celebration always sells out so early ticket purchase is recommended. A different theme is featured each year, such as “the history of hats, the language of the fan, the language of flowers, the history of the parasol, and more recently, a “Downton Abbey Tea” based on the popular tv series. Prizes are awarded and raffle baskets are always a feature.

American Girl Doll Events

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In the spring of 2007, Hearthside introduced the American GirlTM Doll Tea Party for young girls along with their mothers and grandmothers as a special event they can share with their dolls. Wearing their Sunday finery and toting their favorite doll, the Tea has proven to be so popular that it now is held over two days, with four seatings in order to accommodate the numbers of guests who come each year. The tea is an elegant afternoon of tea, lemonade, miniature sandwiches and dainty sweets, as well as a crash course in proper Victorian etiquette. The Tea event led to a Christmas event, and eventually to a Garden Party held in August.

All of the American Girl Doll events continue to be quite popular and have given hundreds of girls and their families some very special memories from their experience. All three of these annual events center around the American Girl DollTM historical character Samantha Parkington, a nine-year old orphan raised by her wealthy and very proper grandmother in 1904. That story coincides with the year that Hearthside got its name and really captures the essence of what it was like growing up in Victorian America. History comes to life and is made more interesting for the girls as they experience firsthand in an actual mansion how Samantha lived during the first years of the 20th century.

Spirited Evenings at the Hearthside

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Everyone who visits an old house invariably asks the question “Is the house haunted?” Some have hinted that they have experienced strange feelings in one room or another, or heard noises while in the house alone. On occasion, Hearthside hosts programs to explore spiritual happenings with psychics and spiritual readers. In each case, the featured guest presenter provides some reading from Hearthside, giving us even more information to ponder about its history.

Reenactments

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The cannons thunder through the air, uniformed soldiers charge at each other while firing their guns, and in the end, bloodied bodies were littered among the countryside “battlefields” of Chase Farm Park . This has been the recurring theme during the Civil War Re-enactment held in Lincoln for 20 years with the last one in 2013, which brought in over 3,000 visitors to Chase Farm Park and Hearthside and over 300 re-enactors from all over New England and beyond. Hearthside had [has] been used as part of the re-enactment in recent years, featuring an extensive Civil War collection on loan, and even turned into a field hospital by the soldiers. History lessons go beyond the battlefield to the encampments to learn what a soldier’s life was like.

Hearthside has hosted other events that commemorate Civil War history such as lectures, museum exhibits, and the annual School of Instruction and Confederate Memorial Day, a kick off to the re-enactors’ season at the end of April. We’ve also held “Christmas in the Camp,” a look at how Christmas was celebrated during the time of conflict. During the summer, Hearthside has hosted the civilian re-enactors as they enjoy an old-fashioned picnic on the grounds.

Earlier periods are also part of the reenactment offerings at Hearthside and Chase Farm Park. The War of 1812 has been explored, with the help of the U.S.S. Constitution Museum.

Tribute to The Great Gatsby

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In a tribute to the 40th anniversary of the 1973 filming of The Great Gatsby in Newport, RI, Hearthside hosted a special event, “Great Gatsby Revisited,” in the summer of 2013. A large contingent of Rolls Royce’s and Bentleys convened on the grounds as part of the Rolls Royce Owners Club Summer Meet. Hearthside’s event featured an afternoon of extraordinary cars, roaring 20’s fashions and live jazz music.

The Great Gatsby movie had featured Hearthside’s last resident, E. Andrew Mowbray (1927- 1996), and his 1922 Rolls Royce. Mowbray was an avid antique car collector and enthusiast, especially of Rolls-Royce and Bentleys. His 1922 S111BG Springfield Silver Ghost Permanent Salamanca, which once belonged to beer tycoon August Busch, appeared in the movie, and he drove it throughout the movie, playing the role of Daisy’s (Mia Farrow) chauffeur. Mowbray was a long-time member of the Rolls-Royce Owners Club, and he also published “Rolls Royce in America” by the late Arthur Souter.

Victorian Dinner Parties

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With the donation of a 10-burner stove came the ability for Hearthside to be able to host elegant dinners. In 2013, a series of elegant Victorian Dinners was started as a special fundraiser for the organization. Seated in the Music Room and Dining Room, guests enjoy a variety of fresh foods from the yearly harvest of local farms and Narragansett Bay waters, prepared by professional chefs in our colonial kitchen. The extravagant 5-course meals feature authentic menu items often found on the Victorian table. Carefully selected wines will accompany the different courses.

Hosted by Victorian costumed staff, served at tables with elegant linens, flowers, candlelight, and the special historic ambience in this 200-year old house, this exclusive dinner party is like no other. All monies raised through these dinners, held seasonally, go toward the Capital Improvement Fund, providing funds for Hearthside’s most critical restoration needs.

Antique Fairs

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Visitors to Hearthside love history and antiques, so in 2009 Friends of Hearthside hosted an Antiques Fair. What better setting for browsing antiques than on the picturesque grounds at a historic site that is located along one of the country’s oldest and most scenic roadways in the state. The Fair featured quality antique and collectible dealers. Volunteers in period dress greeted the visitors to the Fair and provided history and tours. Blacksmithing demonstrations, with the sound of metal on the anvil, enhanced the feeling of antiquity of the objects being shown. Another event, an Antiques Appraisal Day, was added because of the increasing interest in antiques. In searching for answers to “What’s It Worth?”, people from all over the state carried in their precious keepsakes from grandma’s attic to find out if what they had was truly valuable or something only of sentimental value.

Heritage Crafts

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Focusing on the forgotten crafts and chores of long ago, Hearthside has sponsored events featuring demonstrations of weaving, quilting, basket making, spinning, embroidery, stained glass, use of herbs, silhouettes, gravestone etching, stenciling, rug hooking, rope making, cooking over the open fire, washing clothes in a washtub, and blacksmithing. A country stand with hot apple crisp and hot cider on a cool fall day, provided a popular family day. An old-fashioned Spinning Frolic in 2012 featured a contingent of spinning wheels and sheeps’ wool on the front lawn of Hearthside, while Celtic tunes played by local musicians provided rhythm and relaxation for the spinners on a summer day.

What's Great on Great Road

With historic houses, farms and mills, the Great Road Historic District in Lincoln, Rhode Island, retains much of the Blackstone River Valley’s early nineteenth century rural character. Through a collaborative effort, historic sites along Great Road and nearby area open for tours with free admission to the public on a special tour day at the end of September. This is a great opportunity to connect the history in this part of the Blackstone Valley and discover what’s so great about Great Road.

Participating sites have been the Arnold House, Captain Wilbur Kelly House, Hearthside, Saylesville Meeting House, and Valentine Whitman Jr. House, the Blackstone Valley Historical Society at North Gate and the Arnold Bakery, the Hannaway Blacksmith Shop, the Moffett Mill, and history hikes from Gateway Park to Chase Farm Park. The Lodge Restaurant on Breakneck Hill Road partners in this event to promote tourism to the area
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