The Preservation Society of Newport County 2022-2023 Residential Fellow Projects

Apr 28, 2022 • Views -
2019-2020 fellow Mathilde Tollet investigated the ironwork produced by Jules Allard et Fils for Marble House (1892).

Sponsored by The Preservation Society Of Newport County

Of Important Note: Successful candidates will demonstrate a willingness to build community partnerships, as well as locate, identify, and collate primary resources. Through collaboration and guidance from staff, these research projects will result in new information the Preservation Society can use to improve its offerings of tours, exhibitions, and publicly shared information.

The Preservation Society of Newport County is a non-profit organization whose mission is to protect, preserve, and present an exceptional collection of house museums and landscapes in one of the most historically intact cities in America.

The Preservation Society of Newport County 2022-2023 Residential Fellow Projects offers scholars and emerging professionals the opportunity to conduct focused research and undertake projects inspired by and relevant to the Preservation Society’s mission, strategic plan, and annual goals.

Social History Fellowship: The Many Lives of Kingscote 

Newport’s landmark Gothic Revival mansion Kingscote (1839) has largely been interpreted through the history of the King family, who purchased the property in 1864. However, the complicated history of its genesis and first ownership period, when the house belonged to southern plantation and enslaver George Noble Jones, has been largely overlooked. We know a good deal about Jones’s time as a plantation owner in Georgia and Florida, where he enslaved hundreds of people, but his time in Newport, and the lives of enslaved men and women he may have brought here, remain relatively unknown. The 2022-2023 Social History fellowship will focus on identifying and locating information to develop a more complete picture of Kingscote during the Jones era. Investigation into the site’s built and natural environment will be critical, as will an assessment of the home’s place within the summer colony of antebellum Newport and Newport’s social and economic connections to the plantation South. The stories of enslaved people will be central to this research effort. They will provide direction for further evaluation of the structures and landscapes of Kingscote and pre-Civil War Newport more broadly.  The Fellow will benefit from the Preservation Society’s ongoing partnership with Salve Regina University’s Cultural and Historic Preservation Department. 

To be eligible for the 2022-2023 Social History Fellowship, a M.A. degree is required in American history, African American history, social history, anthropology, historic preservation or other related fields. 

Landscape History Fellowship: Estate Gardens

Newport, Rhode Island, located at the southern tip of Aquidneck Island, is surrounded by the Atlantic waters of Narragansett Bay. The mild maritime climate along with loamy, upland soils make for prime agricultural land which has been prized for centuries. When the first English colonists arrived in Newport in the seventeenth century, they found land cultivated by the Native peoples for crops of maize, squash, and beans. During the Colonial era Newport land was redeveloped using European models: farms, orchards, grazing meadows, nurseries, and pleasure gardens gave rise to Newport’s reputation as the “Eden of America.” By the mid-19th century, Newport was primed to blossom into the “Queen of Summer Resorts.” As a burgeoning and fashionable summer colony, the Colonial-era landscape was reconfigured by subdivision and the construction of showplace cottages unsurpassed in their architecture, interiors and gardens. A windswept and rugged coastal landscape became blanketed by a dense arboretum that enveloped boulevards, velvet lawns and refined gardens. This transformation was driven by the concentration of immense wealth, the coming of age of landscape architecture as a design discipline, newly available exotic nursery stock and emerging technologies in greenhouses design and landscape equipment. 

With institutional efforts already underway to present our landscapes as integral to an understanding of life in Newport during the Gilded Age, The Preservation Society’s 2022-2023 Landscape History fellowship will examine the estate landscapes, designs, and maintenance of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with specific focus on stories that relate to or support Preservation Society sites. The Fellow will research the original and evolving horticultural displays, along with the people who designed, supported, and maintained these impressive features that were created for peak enjoyment during a mere six weeks of the year due to the social season, while the job of an estate gardener or gardeners would be a year-round obligation. Remnants of these designs, support structures and stories are quickly disappearing, and this fellowship will be critical in capturing data and narratives before they are lost forever. 

To be eligible for the 2022-2023 Landscape History Fellowship, a M.A. degree is required in Landscape Architecture, Landscape Design, Urban Planning, Architectural History, Horticulture or relevant field. 

Curatorial Fellowship: Newport & China

The fine and decorative art collections of The Preservation Society of Newport County are vast and varied, including a remarkable number of objects imported from China or influenced by Chinese artisanship. They reflect the deep connections to the China Trade of Newport families like the Wetmores of Chateau-sur-Mer and the Kings of Kingscote, as well as Newporters’ broader fascination with Chinese culture, from the eighteenth century to WWI. An upcoming exhibition in the second-floor galleries at historic Rosecliff (1902) will focus on artistic and social exchanges between China and Newport from the colonial period through the Gilded Age. In preparation for the exhibition, The Preservation Society of Newport County seeks a Research Fellow to examine its collections from China and Chinoiserie across our historic properties. The Fellow will identify and research key objects in the collections, including paintings, photographs, ceramics, textiles, furniture, and lacquerwork—of which a comprehensive survey has just been completed in 2021-2022. The Fellow also will assist with targeted research on topics concerning the China Trade; Western imperialism and missionary activities in China; the Boxer Rebellion in the American imagination; the fast-growing Chinese American community of late nineteenth-century Newport; the travels of American architects Richard Howland Hunt and Joseph Howland Hunt to China in 1912/13 in advance of the construction of the Chinese Tea House (1914) at Marble House; and the influence of Chinese American women on the American Woman Suffrage Movement, particularly suffragist Alva Vanderbilt Belmont of Marble House. 

To be eligible for the 2022-2023 Curatorial Fellowship, a M.A. degree is required in art history, American history, Chinese studies, or related fields. Chinese language skills are preferred.

Collections Fellowship: Jules Allard Furniture Survey

The Preservation Society of Newport County holds the largest collection of works by designer Jules Allard, whose businesses in Paris and New York catered to a clientele of wealthy, socially ambitious Americans. This collection comprises interior paneling and architectural designs as well as furnishings and decorative objects. The curatorial and conservation teams are embarking on a long-term study of objects from Allard’s workshop in our collections, which will begin with a thorough survey of all furniture attributed to Allard. Spread across four sites—Marble House (1892), The Breakers (1895), The Elms (1901), and Rosecliff (1902)—this survey project will examine properties of Allard furniture, including their materials, construction, ornamental vocabularies, as well as their measurements and proportions. Background research into Allard and his workshop will be encouraged to interpret findings from the survey. 

This survey will be done with and without supervision and requires a heightened attention to detail, experience working with historical furniture, object handling experience, and a desire to understand and pose new questions about artisanal knowledge and practice. 

To be eligible for the 2022-2023 Collections Fellowship, a M.A. degree is required in art history, the history of design, architectural history, or related fields.

To Apply & Notification Dates

Step 1: Prepare Materials

Application form:
Complete the application form.

Project proposal:
Please provide an abstract (250-500 words) describing your interest in the project, qualifications to undertake the proposed scope of research, and ability to realize deliverables. We welcome preliminary ideas and resources you would use to approach the chosen subject. Please keep in mind that there may be restrictions to visiting archival collections considering the ongoing pandemic.

Curriculum Vitae:
Please provide a copy of your current curriculum vitae.

Submit two (2) letters of reference from scholars or advisors who are familiar with your work.

*Candidates who are selected as part of the final round of consideration will also be asked to provide personal references from current and/or former landlords and appropriate individuals. Please have these references in order. 

Step 2: Submit Materials

Reference letters:
Please instruct your reference writers to submit their letters via email to [email protected]. The email subject line should include the word “reference” followed by your last name.

E-mail your complete application, including application form, essay, and vitae, to [email protected]. Please put your name in the subject line.

You may submit your materials directly via the online application form, or download a PDF of the application form here and email it along with your supplemental materials to the address above.

Application deadline for all materials is Monday, May 30, 2022. Incomplete applications will not be eligible for consideration. Applicants who are selected for further consideration will be notified by Friday, June 10, 2022.

All Fellowship offers are contingent on the successful completion of a background check which will be conducted with the authorization of the Applicant immediately following acceptance of the Fellowship

Not ready to apply? Bookmark the Preservation Society of Newport County’s Research Fellows Program to your ProFellow account.

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