Diversions and Entertainments in 19th Century: Broadsides from the Newport Historical Society’s Collections
Museum and Shop at Brick Market, November 6th through January 31st.
Did you know that a Mummy was put on display in the Old Colony House? That lectures on astronomy were given in Newport’s 4th Baptist Meetinghouse? Or that the city was a center for live entertainment hosting musicals, comedies and Shakespeare’s plays? The Newport Historical Society will present the exhibit Diversions and Entertainments in 19th Century Newport, which features historic advertisements and highlights some popular forms of entertainment.
The advertisements featured in Diversions and Entertainments in 19th Century Newport, which were known as broadsides, promote the wide range of entertainments available to 19th century Newporters. The broadsides highlight how people learned about activities in town while showing how Newporters from over a hundred years ago spent their free time. Diversions and Entertainments in 19th Century Newport runs from November 6th through January 31, 2012 at the Museum of Newport History, located in the Museum & Shop at Brick Market, 127 Thames Street, Newport, RI. The Museum is open daily from 10am to 5pm, and is closed on major holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day). Museum admission is by donation; suggested donation is $4 per person.
Diversions and Entertainment in 19th Century Newport is part of the Rhode Island Center for the Book’s 2012 Art of the Book Program “Rhode Island’s Broadsides Rule!” which offers statewide exhibits and events celebrating Rhode Island’s broadside history. Participating organizations include: John Hay Library at Brown Univeristy, Pettaquamscut Historical Society, Providence Public Library at the Providence Athenaeum, Redwood Library & Athenaeum and the University of Rhode Island Special Collections. The sponsors are: Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, John Russell Bartlett Society, American Printing History Association and The Rhode Island Historical Society.
On display for the holiday season at the Newport Historical Society’s Museum & Shop at Brick Market wss an elegant table setting in a recreated corner of an 18th century merchant’s parlor.
The large and beautiful dining table was made in Newport for the Marchant family. Henry Marchant was a lawyer and farmer who practiced law in Newport and farmed in South County. He was State Attorney General of Rhode Island in the 1770s, a delegate to the Continental Congress, a delegate to the Rhode Island General Assembly after the war, and was the first judge of the US District Court for Rhode Island. Marchant’s son, William, practiced law in Providence, and this table stood in his office there. It was passed down from father to son until 2010, when it was donated to the Newport Historical Society by Jane Cole.
The table was recently added to the Society’s museum. Laid out on the table was the dessert course of a period holiday meal, featuring items such as Chinese export porcelain and Newport-made pewter from the 18th century.
The mid-18th century was a prosperous time for Newport. Residents enjoyed access to a wide array of goods through world-wide trade, and the merchants conducting that trade became quite well off. Depending on one’s relative wealth, dining could be a simple affair or quite elaborate with several courses including dessert. Newporters in the 18th century were influenced by European styles in food and tableware, with the wealthiest residents most closely following the trends. The winter holidays however were celebrated in a more subtle manner (if at all). Rather than decorate with elaborate ornaments, a prosperous family might set the table with their finest china and serve sumptuous meals.
You can read an early federal period Newport recipe for Fruit Gingerbread here.
The Museum & Shop at Brick Market, 127 Thames Street, is open daily 10am – 5pm. For more information phone 401-841-8770.
Newport, RI – (September 2010) – The Newport Historical Society debuted two additions to the Museum & Shop at Brick Market on Tuesday, September 28th at 4PM. An important early 18th century portrait by Nehemiah Partridge of Abigail Ellery, grandmother of the signer William Ellery, and an 18th century Newport-made dining table once owned by the Marchant family of Newport were installed in the exhibits.
The Aquidneck Island Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution adopted the painting of Mrs. Ellery, and their generosity funded a cleaning of the painting and restoration of the early 18th century frame. Mrs. Jane Cole, now of Florida, donated the Marchant table earlier this year. The public is welcome to view the works, and the Museum during its regular hours. Mrs. Ellery now hangs next to a Partridge portrait of Benjamin Ellery Sr., her husband.
Portrait of Abigail Wilkins Ellery (1647-1742)
Project Budget: $20,000
Raised to Date: $0
Increasingly, guests with mobility limitations are frustrated by the stairs to the Museum of Newport History; and this access would create better conformance with ADA for the NHS. A stair lift can be installed onto the Brick Market staircase.