NEWPORT, RI — Rhode Island has entered phase one of the incremental reopening process, which allows certain nonessential businesses to reopen and, starting next week, permits restaurants to offer outdoor dining options. For now, entertainment venues such as theaters, museums, zoos and more remain closed, though the Preservation Society of Newport County has planned a phased reopening of its historic mansions.
Trudy Coxe, the society's CEO, said the mansions are a "globally historic site," and, at a total of 3,554,901 square feet, are as large as One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.
"Our collection includes over 65,000 objects, and we are blessed with dedicated, experienced employees," Coxe said in a message to the public. "These are not burdens, but assets. We must conserve every one of them we can."
The preservation society will begin the reopening process, known as Project Relaunch, in the coming weeks, starting with The Breakers and The Elms. Marble House and Rosecliff will open at a later time.
"As many have reminded us, the success of the Preservation Society will determine the success of many small and larger businesses in our community," Coxe said. "We are determined to do all we can to help get Newport up and running again and we will do it with the public’s health and safety in mind."
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the preservation society, which was meant to be celebrated with a variety of events at the mansions, many of which have been canceled due to coronavirus. The organization now also faces a drastically reduced operating budget, down to approximately $8 million instead of the initially projected $8 million. Donations can be made on the preservation society's website.
"We are so grateful for all the support you have given us and we hope that we merit your continued backing," Coxe concluded. "If ever there were a time to help, this is it."