The stunning beauty and eloquence in Lori Schmitt’s Red Brick House immediately takes me back to the spectacular mansions on Bellevue Avenue in Newport, RI., that I just visited last week with my family from Sicily. Like me, many of you who have been drawn to see this gorgeous ten-mile drive along the Atlantic Ocean, probably fantasize about occupying one of these residences even for a day. Lori strikingly accentuates the tall chimney and the front of her beautiful brick house by the use of a vivid red watercolor to draw attention to the same brick which is also very much a part of the mansions in Newport with their peaks, turrets, towers and multiple chimneys. The blue skies and manicured greenery in her painting are remnant of the perfect landscaping that surrounded each mansion, much like Doris Duke’s famous gardens at Rough Point.
One such mansion that comes to mind when I see Lori’s painting is Kingscote, built in 1839 by a Southern plantation owner, George Noble Jones. It marked the beginning of the “cottage boom” and set the path as the first Newport summer mansion which stretched throughout the 19th century. These mansions and their residents made Newport equivalent to wealth and leisure in the early 20th century.
The Breakers, Chateau-sur-Mer, The Elms, Kingscote and the Marble House are among some of the buildings which have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Kingscote is an unusual example of a landscape and residence preserved untouched with original collections belonging to the family. It is open seasonally for tours.
Would you ever like to live in one of those colossal homes on Bellevue Avenue? When you look at homes like Lori’s “Red Brick House”, don’t you wonder how many rooms there might be and how big they are? Would you like to sail a yacht and play tennis during the day for six weeks in summer? Do you ever wonder what it was like to grab a top hat and a fancy gown and attend an extravagant party with the elite families named Vanderbilt, Astor and Morgan with a full staff taking care of your every whim?
I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t but I can look at Lori’s painting and have it take me there anytime I’d like to dream!
Pleasant dreams and have a nice weekend.
See you Tuesday!