Found a nice surprise this morning . My niece Regina and her husband Mike have come up to spend the weekend. Regina always has interesting stories to tell !
After breakfast, Mary and I once again ventured to Bristol to visit more of their famous attractions. We made a stop on the way in Portsmouth at Green Animal Topiary Garden - the oldest topiary garden in the U.S. The house and the gardens sit on 17 acres of prime property overlooking Narraganset Bay. The sad story of the house, built in 1872 by Thomas Brayton, is that once Mr. Brayton's wife died, just a few years after the house was built, he never returned to the property. Twice a week, he would send a car to pick up fresh fruits and vegetables grown in the huge garden . His Portuguese gardener, Joseph Carreiro, created the topiaries in the early 1900's. There are over 80 animal or geometric shaped boxwood, privet, and yew. The work was carried on by his daughter and her husband, the Mendoncas, until their death ( which happened on the same day three hours apart). The last heir donated the house to the Preservation Society. Even though the only flowers still blooming were dahlias and Montauk daisies, the topiaries made the garden a worthwhile stop.
When we arrived in Bristol we lunched at Aiden's Irish Pub - a good choice. The sandwiches were delicious and oh those potatoes! Yummy!
Next stop - Linden Place built in 1810 by George DeWolf - a famous slave trader and privateer. The DeWolf family was the subject of a 2007 documentary "Traces of the Trade". The house is a classic Federal style home occupied by the DeWolf and Colt family descendants for 177 years. Mr DeWolf's daughter, Theodora, married Sam Colt founder of Industrial Trust Co ( became Fleet Bank). Their son, Pomeroy, was the founder of US Rubber ( now Uniroyal) . His son, Russell, married actress Ethel Barrymore and had three children - and it goes on and on. In 1980, the last heir to the property was living in Arizona and was offered 2 million dollars for the estate. She really didn't want to destroy this historic house so she asked Senator John Chaffee if he would help her get a referendum on the ballot and let the people of Rhode Island decide if they wanted to buy the house. The people voted "yes" and one and a half million dollars of taxpayer money was used to buy Linden Place. The heir then turned around and generously donated all of the original contents ( worth a fortune) to stay with the house.
On our way home, we made sure to drive through Colt State Park which is 2 miles down from Linden Place. The park started out as the Colt Farm and on the incredibly beautiful marble gates there is a sign that reads : Colt Farm - Private Property, Public Welcome. This 464 acre piece of prime shoreline property is gorgeous. Biking paths, beach areas, and picnic tables in the loveliest grove settings. The 3 mile drive around the perimeter is one way with many pull offs for fabulous views of the water. Before becoming a state park, the Colt family was offered a fortune for this prime property. There was disagreement, but the faction that said - "it's always been available to the public and should stay that way" won out and the land was given over and made a state park.
Homeward bound - stopped off at Belmont Market for fixings for our delicious flounder dinner after which the five of us played cards. What a wonderful day.