Selected Writing - Public Relations

Public Relations  ~  Media  ~  Creative  ~  Scripts  ~  Corporate  ~  Web
Press Release for Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretum

A Restoration Collaboration

The Champlin Foundations awarded Blithewold a grant of $75,000 to stabilize and restore Blithewold's 100 year old Summer House and bordering historic landscapes. Working in partnership with Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretum, the project will utilize the combined resources and expertise of both Roger William's University's Historic Preservation Program in Bristol, RI, and the Institute of Preservation Technology, Goodwill Industries Historic Preservation Division in Providence, RI., through an educational and crafts training collaborative. The project will follow the Secretary of Interior Standards for Rehabilitation, and be defined according to the extensive historic documentation in Blithewold's archives and existing structural evidence, while considering the building's current and future use.

The mission of the Roger Wiliams University Historic Preservation program is to provide students with the knowledge, skills, and understanding necessary to meet succesffully the challenges involved in preserving our physical and cultural heritage, while providing students with a broad liberal arts background throug hthe University Core Curriculum. The students study topics such as architectural conservatio and preservation planing, gaining professional experience and hands-on training through internships, laborartory and field works, and group projects Under the aegis of professor Kevin Jordan students from RWU Historic Preservation program will participate in the project, through crafts training, research, and project documentation.

IPT's objective is to incorporate the professional practices of historic preservation with on-site crafts training and site specific curricula. Their goal is to exchange professional experiences with organizations and individuals through historic preservation project collaborations. Working with the Roger Wm. University students from the Historic Preservation Program, the IPT preservation staff and the preservation network is providing the necessary instruction and training.

The Institute for Preservation Training (IPT) is a program of Goodwill Industries of Rhode Island. IPT's mission is to incorporate the professional practices of historic preservation with on-site crafts training and site specific curricula. IPT's goal is to exchange professional experiences with organization and indivudals through project collaboratives. Since 1995, IPT has had several student exchanges with RWU, providing the guidance and expertise for each preservation project activity. IPT is providing the necessary craftspeople to accomplish this project's scope.

The summer House is part of the original estate serving as a vital landscape element and social centerpiece. An octagonal building, measuring approximately 12 feet on ea ch side incorporates desing features typical of the late 19th century. The building is integral with the surrounding landscape, with a columned proch a single step off the path to both the Enclosed Garden the the wodland Bosquet. The Summer House, was a retreat built to provide the family with a place to not only entertain but to enjoy the surrounding beauty of their home. In prior years, Blithewold had used the Summerhouse for educational programming. Within in recent years, the structure had fallen into serious disrepair and was in danger of collapse.

The Summer House had become a victim of love. The owners of the Blithewold were avid horticulturists who worked hard on landscaping the grounds. Over the years the Summer House had become dwarfed by the many maturing exotic trees, shrubs and herbaceous plantings which surrounded it. All of this contributed to an encroaching damp which over the years caused the center masonry to shift, carpenter ants to infest the woodwork, and biological decay of the roof and decorative elements. The grant award from the Champlin Foundations for the Summer House project is divided between four categories of support. It includes $45,000 for the Stabilization and restoration work of the building, $10,000 for a maintenance endowment, $5000 for consultants, and $15,000 for the stabilization and replacement of surrounding vegetation of the woodland known as The Bosquet, and The Enclosed Garden, home to the east coast's largest mature Giant Redwood, the Sequoia. The Summer House project began work in Late February under the supervision of Kevin Jordan, Professor in the Historic Preservation program at RWU, Robert Cagnetta, Project Manager for IPT, and Alexandra O'Donnell, Project Supervisor for Blithewold. The summer House restoration will be completed by June 1st by the craftsmen of IPT. As RWU students sign off they will hand over to Blithewold a written and photographic documentation report and a maintenance program and schedule for the coming years. The stabilization and replacement of historic vegetation will take place over the next year according to optimum planting times.