Breakers welcome center rejected by historic district commission

The Preservation Society of Newport County plans to appeal a decision by the Newport Historic District Commission that blocks construction of a $4.2 million welcome center on the grounds of The Breakers mansion. More

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Breakers welcome center rejected by historic district commission

COURTESY PRESERVATION SOCIETY OF NEWPORT COUNTY AND EPSTEIN JOSLIN ARCHITECTS
THE PROPOSED WELCOME CENTER on the grounds of The Breakers in Newport has been rejected by the Newport Historic District Commission, although the Preservation Society of Newport County plans to appeal the decision.
Posted 8/30/13

NEWPORT – The Preservation Society of Newport County plans to appeal a decision by the Newport Historic District Commission that blocks construction of a $4.2 million welcome center on the grounds of The Breakers mansion.

“The Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission approved this plan, and we believe there are errors in the findings of fact which have contributed to the Historic District Commission decision,” Donald O. Ross, chairman of the preservation society, said in a prepared statement. “We anticipate the Zoning Board will give our proposal an equally rigorous review and that it will affirm our position.”

The Historic District Commission voted 4-to-3 to deny the visitors center plan during an Aug. 27 special meeting.

The plan has generated controversy about adding a building on what some historians and residents consider the almost-sacred grounds of The Breakers, one of Newport’s most famous landmarks of the Gilded Age.

Some neighbors voiced concerns at the meeting about building a visitors center on the grounds of the 13-acre property, according to the Newport Daily News.

The Preservation Society proposed the pavilion-style welcome center, designed in the style of garden pavilions for the late 19th and early 20th centuries, to replace tents set up 12 years ago to sell tickets, and to replace port-a-potties.

“We especially appreciate the donors who have already pledged $3.5 million to this project,” preservation society CEO Trudy Coxe said in the prepared statement.

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