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A Victory for The Breakers Welcome Center

 (July 18, 2014) A victory for The Breakers welcome center.  The authority of Newport's Zoning Officer and Zoning Board is affirmed, as the Newport Superior Court refuses to intervene in Newport's Zoning process.  Read the decision here.

The Breakers Welcome Center

On Monday, March 10, the Newport Zoning Board of Review issued its written decision upholding the Preservation Society's appeal and reversing the Historic District Commission's denial of a Certificate of Appropriateness for the welcome center. 

Click here to read the decision.

On a 4-1 vote, the Newport Zoning Board of Appeals has upheld the Preservation Society's appeal, citing the weight of the evidence presented before the HDC.

Click here to read press coverage of the Zoning Board decision.

National Park Service Retracts Letter Opposing Breakers Welcome Center

Click here to read the January 27 retraction letter.

At 4:45 p.m. on Friday, January 24, William C. Bolger from the National Park Service office in Philadelphia issued a letter regarding The Breakers welcome center.

“The letter written by William C. Bolger from the Philadelphia office of the National Park Service is filled with inaccuracies,” said Trudy Coxe, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of The Preservation Society of Newport County. “It interferes in a local process for which Bolger admits that he has no ‘review authority,’ unlike the state preservation commission that has approved the project."

"The letter is extraneous to the issues before the Newport Zoning Board and is the result of a one-sided process," added Coxe. "One wonders why he has sprung this inappropriate letter on the Preservation Society on a Friday afternoon preceding the Monday Zoning Board hearing.”

Appeal Hearing Scheduled for January 27, 2014

Read the legal briefs filed in the Preservation Society's Appeal to the Newport Zoning Board.

Existing welcome center plan is far superior to ‘alternatives’

In a Guest View column in the October 12-13, 2013 Newport Daily News, Preservation Society of Newport County Board Chairman Donald O. Ross explains why proposed "alternatives" to the Society's welcome center plans are unacceptable.   Read his column.

RIHPHC Affirms Its Approval of Welcome Center Project

In a letter dated October 2, 2013, the RI Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission has affirmed its July vote approving the Preservation Society’s plan for a new welcome center at The Breakers. In direct contradiction of an opinion by Newport Historic District Commission staff, the RIHPHC states that the plan is in compliance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and National Park Service Guidelines, and will not alter the historic character of The Breakers.   Read the decision.

Read statements of support from the Newport community, preservationists, museum, tourism and business leaders.

Preservation Society Will Appeal Newport HDC Decision on Welcome Center at The Breakers

The Preservation Society of Newport County says it will appeal the decision by the Newport Historic District Commission regarding its proposal for a new welcome center at The Breakers.

"We appreciate the complexity of the deliberations that reached this conclusion and we thank all of the commissioners for their hard work on this issue," said Donald O. Ross, Chairman of the Board of the Preservation Society. "The Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission approved this plan, and we believe there are errors in the findings of fact which have contributed to the HDC decision. We anticipate the Zoning Board will give our proposal an equally rigorous review and that it will affirm our position."

"We thank our thousands of supporters from Newport, Aquidneck Island and around the country," said Trudy Coxe, CEO & Executive Director of the Preservation Society. "We especially appreciate the donors who have already pledged 3.5 million dollars to this project."



The Breakers Welcome Center Plan

The Preservation Society of Newport County is proud to announce plans for a welcome center at The Breakers commensurate with the property’s stature as an internationally recognized historic house museum and one of the five most visited historic houses in America. After a decade of work, the Preservation Society's Board of Trustees has selected a design by the architectural firm Epstein Joslin that meets sound historic preservation criteria while providing for the comfort and orientation needs of the hundreds of thousands of people who visit The Breakers from around the world annually. Having already been visited by 20 million guests, The Breakers is now a destination itself within Newport, Rhode Island and New England. Recovery of the original character of the landscape at the entrance of The Breakers is a major feature of the project. The landscape design firm of Reed Hilderbrand has been commissioned to develop a plan to assess and protect the historic character of the site, including the preservation of historically significant specimen trees and plant and a rehabilitation of the perimeter landscape and historic path. Temporary structures added over the last 30 years will be removed, including an amusement park-style ticket booth, a portable restroom trailer, a vending machine shed, and a seasonal ticket tent. The welcome center’s one-story design adopts the curving motif of the original landscape, incorporating garden architecture inspired by the period, employing energy-efficient and environmentally friendly concepts and materials. Adjacent to the existing service structure from the 1895 Richard Morris Hunt building campaign and embedded along a wooded pathway, the welcome center is situated to provide immediate access for visitors of all ages and abilities, including fully ADA-compliant facilities not always available at historic sites. Occupying a modest 3,650 square feet, the welcome center will offer visitors information about The Breakers, other properties of the Preservation Society and the city of Newport itself, along with refreshments and comfortable restrooms. Construction techniques have been selected to ensure no irreversible alteration to the landscape occurs, no historic fabric is lost and the historic viewsheds – both inside and outside the grounds – are preserved. Also protected from any permanent alteration is the property’s unique historic underground boiler room and coal bunker complex. The welcome center’s colors and materials have been selected to work with the design and siting to screen the structure from The Breakers itself and from Ochre Point Avenue.


Reed Hilderbrand Honored

The American Society of Landscape Architects has chosen Reed Hilderbrand for its 2013 Landscape Architecture Firm Award, the highest award that ASLA bestows in recognition of distinguished work that influences the profession.