Hearthside - The House That Love Built


View the 2015 Events Calendar

Hearthside StaffHearthside is open from March through December. Tours for the public are scheduled each month along with specially-themed events which help bring history to life. See our Annual Schedule of Events for current information. Docents in period attire provide guided tours as they interpret the entire house, including the third floor attic space where the antique looms which once produced fine woven products may still be seen. During the tour, learn about the history of the house and the Great Road, the families who lived here, and the unusual architecture. With an impressive collection of antiques and artifacts along with the costumed docents, family life in the 19th century is easily envisioned. Tours last one hour and admission is $8/adult; $6/seniors; $4/ages 10-17; under 10 and members of the Friends of Hearthside are free. Admission for special exhibits and events varies according to event. Members of Friends of Hearthside receive free tours all year and discounts on tickets for special events as well as the opportunity to purchase prior to the public.

Hearthside is the site of many different types of events throughout the year which have a specific historical theme. While some events are held annually, others may vary year to year in order to accommodate special exhibits at the Museum. The types of past events have included: Afternoon Teas, Early American Crafts demonstrations, Victorian Christmas Open House, and Victorian Mourning Customs. For antique lovers, Friends of Hearthside has hosted the Antiques Fair, held on the picturesque grounds of Hearthside, and Antiques Appraisal Day. Hearthside also hosts a full-scale Civil War Re-enactment on the neighboring Chase Farm property, which also features activities at the Museum. Be sure to watch this website for details and announcements of upcoming events.

Victorian Christmas

Hearthside HostsThere's no place like Hearthside at Christmas time. The house is decorated so beautifully that it is no wonder it was selected to be featured in Yankee Magazine, Worcester Living Magazine, and two books about "Christmas at Historic Houses." Each year, volunteers spend weeks decorating to transform the mansion back to a turn-of-the-century Christmas. Visitors to Hearthside delight in the magic of a traditional Victorian Christmas as they enter the house and are greeted by our volunteers dressed in period attire. Each room is elaborately decorated with Victorian ornamentation of lace and gold, festive garlands, and countless poinsettias and many special personal touches brought in by the volunteers from their own holiday collections. The festive atmosphere is enhanced with live seasonal music, homemade cookies, and a gift shop stocked with holiday gifts. A special children's holiday program is also scheduled each year. The amber glow of candlelight and the white lights of the gaily decorated trees add to the warmth of this beautiful home, making it a popular destination to visit after Christmas for candlelight tours during the vacation week before New Years.

Afternoon Teas

It's a return to the gentle splendor of a bygone era at Hearthside, with spring flowers, elegant hats, delicate lace, dainty teacups and fancy finger foods as Friends of Hearthside hosts its annual Afternoon Tea in May. This event has become our most popular one, and always sells out so early ticket purchase is recommended. A different theme is featured each year, such as "the history of hats, the language of the fan, the language of flowers, the history of the parasol, etc. Prizes are awarded for most beautiful hats and raffle baskets are always a feature.

Tea has also become popular with the younger generation so Hearthside holds a special tea for girls and their dolls. The American Girl Doll Tea, usually held at the beginning of June, provides a wonderful opportunity for young girls to bring their American Girl dolls, sometimes even dressed in the matching outfits, to an elegant tea at Hearthside. They learn the social graces of afternoon tea, just as young girls would during the 19th century. Like the adult tea, there are raffle baskets and shopping in the gift shop as part of the event.

American Girl Doll Events

American Girl Doll EventsIn the spring of 2007, Hearthside introduced the American Girl™ Doll Tea Party for young girls along with their mothers and grandmothers as a special event they can share with their dolls. Wearing their Sunday finery and toting their favorite doll, the Tea has proven to be so popular that it now is held over two days, with four seatings in order to accommodate the numbers of guests who come each year. The tea is an elegant afternoon of tea, lemonade, miniature sandwiches and dainty sweets, as well as a crash course in proper Victorian etiquette.

The Tea event led to a Christmas event, and eventually to a Garden Party held in August. All of the American Girl Doll events continue to be quite popular and have given hundreds of girls and their families some very special memories from their experience.

All three of these annual events center around the American Girl Doll historical character Samantha Parkington, a nine-year old orphan raised by her wealthy and very proper grandmother in 1904. That story coincides with the year that Hearthside got its name and really captures the essence of what it was like growing up in Victorian America. History comes to life and is made more interesting for the girls as they experience firsthand in an actual mansion how Samantha lived during the first years of the 20th century.

Tribute to the 1904 World's Fair

Tribute to the 1904 World's FairThe 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis has been referred to as the "Greatest World's Fair ever" and in 2014, Hearthside paid tribute to that international event with a special exhibit and event that featured Rhode Island's important role in it. An extensive exhibit, funded by the RI Council for the Humanities, was displayed throughout the rooms in the house, included photographic displays, interpretive panels, video presentation, and memorabilia that were donated to Hearthside by the Murch family of St. Louis. Patrons learned about Hearthside's connection to this international exhibition, as it was the model for the Rhode Island Building (and later became a home to the Murch family after the Fair). The exhibit continued outdoors with a "festival-like" atmosphere reminiscent of "The Pike," with entertainment, games, and foods found at the 1904 Fair.

This event provides a nostalgic look back at a time when airplanes, automobiles and ice cream cones were new inventions and the simple pleasures of old-fashioned games of skill kept everyone engaged and entertained, which is not an easy thing to do in this digital age. With our permanent collection of 1904 World's Fair artifacts and because of the overwhelming popularity of the exhibit, Hearthside plans to repeat the event on a regular basis.

Victorian Dinner Parties

Victorian Dinner PartiesWith the donation of a 10-burner stove came the ability for Hearthside to be able to host elegant dinners. In 2013, a series of elegant Victorian Dinners was started as a special fundraiser for the organization. Seated in the Music Room and Dining Room, guests enjoy a variety of fresh foods from the yearly harvest of local farms and Narragansett Bay waters, prepared by professional chefs in our colonial kitchen. The extravagant 5-course meals feature authentic menu items often found on the Victorian table. Carefully selected wines will accompany the different courses.

Hosted by Victorian costumed staff, served at tables with elegant linens, flowers, candlelight, and the special historic ambience in this 200-year old house, this exclusive dinner party is like no other. All monies raised through these dinners, held seasonally, go toward the Capital Improvement Fund, providing funds for Hearthside's most critical restoration needs.

Color & Light: Early 20th Century Portraits of Hearthside

Victorian MourningDuring the summer of 2012, Hearthside hosted a photography exhibit, which was later recognized with a "Leadership in History Award" given by the American Association for State and Local History, and also written up in an article in the National Endowment for the Arts magazine. The exhibit booklet also was recognized by the New England Museum Association with a Publications Award. The Color & Light exhibit was a unique blend of art and history.

The beauty of Hearthside was captured 100 years ago in a new photographic process known as "hand-colored photography." Fifty photographs by nationally-renowned photographer David Davidson and Rufus Waterman, a lesser known photographer who emulated Davidson's work, had recently been discovered in their original pristine condition by descendants of the Talbot family, who were living at Hearthside at the time.

With a grant from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, Friends of Hearthside was able to mat and frame the artwork and hosted a major exhibit featuring these extraordinary pieces, displayed in the same locations in which they were taken between 1907 and 1912. For the first time, a glimpse of what the rooms in this home looked like was available. In addition to the photographs, the exhibit also included displays of Davidson's original box style camera and artifacts from his Providence studio, and even the shawl worn in many of the photographs.

While the artifacts were on loan from the Davidson family and have been returned, the 50 photographs that were donated to Hearthside by the Talbot family remain in our collection.

Tribute to The Great Gatsby

Great Gatsby TributeIn a tribute to the 40th anniversary of the filming of The Great Gatsby in Newport, RI, Hearthside hosted a special event, Great Gatsby Revisited, in the summer of 2013. A huge contingent of Rolls Royces and Bentleys convened on the grounds as part of the Rolls Royce Owners Club Summer Meet. Hearthside' s event featured an afternoon of extraordinary cars, roaring 20's fashions and live jazz music.

"The Great Gatsby" movie had featured Hearthside's last resident, E. Andrew Mowbray (1927-1996), and his 1922 Rolls Royce. Mowbray was an avid antique car collector and enthusiast, especially of Rolls-Royce and Bentleys. His 1922 S111BG Springfield Silver Ghost Permanent Salamanca, which once belonged to beer tycoon August Busch, appeared in the movie and he drove it throughout the movie, playing the role of Daisy's (Mia Farrow) chauffeur. Mowbray was a long-time member of the Rolls-Royce Owners Club, and he also published "Rolls Royce in America" by the late Arthur Souter.

Civil War Re-enactment

Civil War Re-enactmentThe cannons thunder through the air, uniformed soldiers charge at each other while firing their guns, and in the end, bloodied bodies were littered among the countryside "battlefields" of Chase Farm Park . This has been the recurring theme during the Civil War Re-enactment held in Lincoln every two years for the past 20 years.

Hearthside has been used as part of the re-enactment in recent years and even turned into a field hospital by the soldiers. History lessons go beyond the battlefield to the encampments to learn what a soldier's life was like. President and Mrs. Lincoln have attended our events and interacted with spectators throughout the weekend, a Civil War Ball has been held, and a special exhibit of Civil War artifacts has been featured at Hearthside.

This event typically brings in over 3,000 visitors to Chase Farm Park and Hearthside, with well over 300 re-enactors from all over New England and beyond participating in this living history event. Hearthside hosted the most recent Re-enactment on September 14-15, 2013. In 2015, the re-enacting groups are holding their Civil War event in nearby Webster, Massachusetts during the weekend of September 11-13th.

Hearthside has hosted other events that commemorate Civil War history such as lectures, museum exhibits, and the annual School of Instruction and Confederate Memorial Day, a kick off to the re-enactors' season at the end of April. We've also held Christmas in the Camp, a look at how Christmas was celebrated during the time of conflict. During the summer, Hearthside has hosted the civilian re-enactors as they enjoy an old-fashioned picnic on the grounds.

Fall Festival of Heritage Crafts

WeavingFocusing on the forgotten crafts and chores of long ago, Hearthside has featured demonstrations of weaving, quilting, basket making, spinning, embroidery, stained glass, use of herbs, silhouettes, gravestone etching, stenciling, rug hooking, rope making, cooking over the open fire, washing clothes in a washtub, and blacksmithing. A country stand with hot apple crisp and hot cider on a crisp fall day, makes this a popular family day. Neighboring properties provided an opportunity for visitors to tour other significant historic sites, such as the Friends Meeting House,Eleazer Arnold House, and the Hannaway Blacksmith Shop.

Antiques Fair and Antiques Appraisal Day

Visitors to Hearthside love history and antiques, so in 2009 Friends of Hearthside launched a new event, the Antiques Fair. What better setting for browsing antiques than at a historic site that is located along one of the country's oldest and most scenic roadways in the state. The Fair, set on the picturesque grounds of Hearthside, featured quality antique and collectible dealers. Volunteers in period dress greeted the visitors to the Fair and provided history and tours. Blacksmithing demonstrations add to the antiquity of objects being shown. Another event was added because of the popularity of antique collecting and that was an Antiques Appraisal Day. In searching for answers to "What's It Worth?", people from all over the state carried in their precious keepsakes from grandma's attic to find out if what they had was truly valuable or something only of sentimental value.

What's Great on Great Road

Road SignCalled "Great" because it was so much more substantial than other routes through the valley, Great Road was built in 1683 as the major thoroughfare from the Port of Providence on into Mendon, Massachusetts along the west side of the Blackstone River. With historic houses, farms and mills, the Great Road Historic District in Lincoln, Rhode Island, retains much of the Blackstone River Valley's early nineteenth century rural character. Through a collaborative effort, eight sites along Great Road will be open free to the public on special tour days. Take tours, explore the area, and discover what's so great about Great Road.

Tours are at Arnold House, Captain Wilbur Kelly House, Hearthside, Saylesville Meeting House, and Valentine Whitman Jr. House, the Blackstone Valley Historical Society at North Gate, the Hannaway Blacksmith Shop and history hikes from Gateway Park to Chase Farm Park. Visitors are invited to start their journey at any site, and pick up a "Passport to Great Road". At each site, the passport will get stamped. Completed Passports, whether done all on one day or over a period of time, may be brought to The Lodge Restaurant on Breakneck Hill Road and receive a free dessert.

Gone But Not Forgotten: Victorian Mourning Customs

Victorian MourningHearthside, and all of its volunteers, is draped in black, giving all who pass by the message that this is a house in mourning. The occasion is the funeral of former Hearthside owner, Simon E. Thornton, who died on May 2, 1873. His body was prepared at the house by the undertaker, who came with his equipment and a portable embalming table. The coffin was displayed in the Drawing Room where visitors would come and pay their respects. Following the ceremony, the coffin would be carried out of the house and into a waiting hearse to bring it to the gravesite for burial. In October, Hearthside is set up to re-create the Victorian mourning customs practiced during the time when Simon Thornton passed away. Each room in the house has displays of mourning clothing, jewelry, artwork, stationery displays, post mortem photography, and other funerary exhibits. A funeral ceremony concluded the exhibit, complete with an 1868 hearse.

Spirited Evenings at Hearthside

Everyone who visits an old house invariably asks the question "Is the house haunted?" Some have hinted that they have experienced strange feelings in one room or another, or heard noises while in the house alone. On occasion, we have hosted programs to explore spiritual happenings. Learn more!

Return to top