Preservation Society of Newport County’s “Gilded Age Newport in Color” Runs Through June 30th

The Preservation Society of Newport County, alongside the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society, is set to debut the exhibition “Gilded Age Newport in Color” at Rosecliff on March 15. The exhibit will transport visitors to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, offering a unique perspective on the resort community’s urban setting, highlighting the active involvement of African heritage families during this era.

Running from March 15 to June 30 at Rosecliff, the exhibition will showcase over 150 artifacts encompassing photographs, handbills, business cards, news clippings, as well as furniture, clothing, jewelry, and ceramics from the collections of the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society, The Preservation Society of Newport County, and other institutions.

The immersive experience will delve into various aspects of daily life within the African heritage community of Gilded Age Newport. Exploring where they lived, worked, played, traveled, and worshipped, the exhibit sheds light on the unique social exchanges that occurred in the city, offering a rare opportunity for people of color from major cities like Providence, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington to engage in uninhibited social interaction.

“The ‘Gilded Age Newport in Color’ exhibition explores an important chapter in American history when African heritage families could unite and promote their economic and social well-being through self-reliance, entrepreneurism, political advancement, and cultural interchange,” remarked Theresa “Soni” Guzmán Stokes, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society. The exhibit draws upon the extensive collections of the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society, totaling over 9,000 linear feet, capturing the essence of an African heritage experience during the Gilded Age.

Trudy Coxe, CEO of the Preservation Society, expressed pride in presenting diverse perspectives on the Gilded Age. “We are proud to continue telling stories of the Gilded Age from different perspectives that give us a broader understanding of Newport during this important era,” she stated.

The exhibit highlights the contributions of Newport’s earliest African heritage professionals, including doctors, dentists, teachers, hospitality entrepreneurs, and elected officials. It showcases how African heritage entrepreneurs leveraged their commercial endeavors to promote economic security and advance political interests, laying the foundation for later civil rights movements.

Visitors will encounter historical figures such as Dr. Marcus F. Wheatland, the first known African heritage physician in Newport, journalist Lillian Susie Fitts Jeter, soprano opera singer Abbie Mitchell, and literary critic and poet William Stanley Beaumont Braithwaite.

As part of the exhibit’s launch, the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation is actively promoting the debut on a national stage, aligning with the state’s broader initiative to showcase Rhode Island’s rich and diverse history.

Anika Kimble-Huntley, Chief Marketing Officer of the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, emphasized the importance of the exhibit in portraying Newport’s comprehensive history. “This exhibition is an important step in sharing the holistic picture of Newport’s diverse history,” she noted, highlighting the vital role of the African heritage community in the economic and cultural development of the county.

This exhibition is included with admission to Rosecliff. Purchase tickets in person or through To learn more about “Gilded Age Newport in Color,” please visit




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