2017-10-05 / Mainsheet

Reliving Life of the Past

Photos courtesy of Newport Historical Society


Susan and Ernest Jacquet Susan and Ernest Jacquet In the summer of 1869, President Ulysses S. Grant met Ida Lewis, the Keeper of Limerock Light and famous as "America's Bravest Woman," in Newport, Rhode Island. Miss Lewis had achieved national renown for her life-saving feats on Narragansett Bay.

This September, the Newport Historical Society imagined what it might have been like if this meeting included a banquet at the Colony House. Drawing on historic menus, McGrath Clambakes created a five-course Victorian meal, much in the spirit of an 1870s celebratory, formal banquet. It was revised for modern tastes by reducing the number of courses by half. Bellevue Wine & Spirits paired the wines for a truly period experience.

President Grant, embodied by Kenneth Serfass, was a gracious presence, humble and knowledgeable about matters military and political. Miss Lewis (Alyssa Potter) and her friend Mrs. Bucklyn (Rebecca Donohue) were a delight to all in attendance.


Taylor Stoermer and historic interpreter Rebecca Donohue portraying Mrs. J.K. Bucklyn Taylor Stoermer and historic interpreter Rebecca Donohue portraying Mrs. J.K. Bucklyn Newport Strings had several pieces of music from the NHS collections, transcribed for the event. During the course of the evening, 130 guests met the president and Miss Lewis, consumed period-appropriate food and libations, and listened to Newport Strings play the "Ida Lewis Waltz," "The Ocean Waves Dashed Wildly High," and other pieces of 19th century music.



President Ulysses S. Grant portrayed by Ken Serfass President Ulysses S. Grant portrayed by Ken Serfass
Guests are seated for their culinary dinner Guests are seated for their culinary dinner

Betsy West, Kimberly Palmer and Elena Kissel Betsy West, Kimberly Palmer and Elena Kissel

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