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.