2013-09-19 / Opinion

Society Ignores History


To the Editor:

Last year I wrote to the editor in opposition to the Preservation Society’s plan to build a welcome center on the historic grounds of The Breakers. In response, the management of the Society berated me in public and in private for writing the letter.

As many people know, my husband John Winslow was the chairman of the board of the Preservation Society for many years. He devoted his life to the Society and worked to build it so that it would endure forever and preserve the beauty and architecture of Newport. In my view, he would have strenuously opposed building a welcome center, including a 70- seat restaurant, on the grounds of The Breakers.

In retaliation for my letter, the Preservation Society has made an effort to eliminate all reference to the name Winslow, despite his long and valuable service to the organization.

This is not unique. It appears to me that there is a campaign to eliminate any reference to the contributions of many who established and nurtured the Preservation Society from its inception. Countess Szechenyi, Mrs. Warren, Countess Szapary, Mrs. Drexel, and others besides my husband are being erased from the institutional memory of the Society. The present management takes credit for everything but fails to preserve the long history that created and supported the Society.

In view of this peevish behavior, one must question the mania to build a new visitor’s center on the hallowed grounds of one of Newport’s greatest treasures¬≠– the one cottage that pumps blood throughout the Preservation Society.

Thanks to the good judgment of the Historic District Commission, the Board of the Society should take note and put a stop to the feckless course that management has set.

Helen Winslow


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