Blithewold Mansion, Gardens and Arboretum

The Blithewold Mansion, Gardens and Arboretum is an arboretum of 13 hectares (32 acres), located at 101 Ferry Road, Bristol, Rhode Island, midway between Newport and Providence, Rhode Island, on Bristol Harbor with views over Narragansett Bay. It includes a mansion, with a 4 hectares (9.9 acres) lawn and over 300 species of woody plants in its arboretum and gardens, including both native and exotic species.

Blithewold Mansion.jpg
Blithewold Mansion (west elevation)
LocationBristol, Rhode Island
Coordinates41°39′15″N 71°15′58″W / 41.65417°N 71.26611°W / 41.65417; -71.26611Coordinates: 41°39′15″N 71°15′58″W / 41.65417°N 71.26611°W / 41.65417; -71.26611
ArchitectDewolf, John; Kilham & Hopkins
Architectural styleLate 19th and 20th Century Revivals
NRHP reference No.80000074 [1]
Added to NRHPJune 27, 1980

The Mansion and its grounds were established in the 1890s by Augustus and Bessie Van Wickle as their summer retreat. Augustus Van Wickle was from Hazleton, Pennsylvania, with a fortune in the coal-mining business and a donor of the Van Wickle Gates at Brown University. Today's grounds are primarily the design of John DeWolf, and date between 1896 and 1913.[2] The property was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.[1]

Blithwold's grounds include species from North America, Europe, China and Japan. Specimen trees include magnolia (Magnolia spp.), linden (Tilia spp.), Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba), Black Tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica), Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides), Franklinia (Franklinia alatamaha), Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), various oaks (Quercus spp.) and beeches (Fagus spp.). Other notable trees include a weeping Pagoda Tree (Styphnolobium japonicum 'Pendula'), Hiba (Thujopsis dolabrata), Katsura (Cercidiphyllum japonicum), and Sugi (Cryptomeria japonica). The grounds also include English Yews (Taxus baccata) and Eastern Junipers (Juniperus virginiana), as well as what is claimed to be the largest Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) on the East Coast, planted in 1911, and currently about 100 feet (30 m) tall.

Blithewold's Bamboo Grove covers an area nearly the size of a tennis court, and is planted with Phyllostachys aureosulcata, the Yellow-groove bamboo, which grows to 10 metres (33 ft) tall.

Blithewold has maintained contacts with the Arnold Arboretum ever since 1926, when staff botanists visited Blithewold to see the Chinese toon tree (Toona sinensis) in flower for what was believed to be the first time in the United States.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 15, 2006.
  2. ^ "NRHP nomination for Blithewold" (PDF). Rhode Island Preservation. Retrieved 2014-07-05.

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