My Newport

Howard and Nora Cushing with their sons, Jamie and Howard, at The Ledges. The property, one of Newport's most spectacular locales, has been in the Cushing family for over four generations. Howard is the current President of The Spouting Rock Beach Association. Photo: Nick Mele.
My Newport
by Sam Bolton
Photographs by Nick Mele and Alex Kendall


Ward McCallister, in referring to Newport, the summer resort of the Gilded Age, once said, “The most charming people of the country had formed a select little community there.”

Newport “Society” is a bit reserved compared to the Hamptons. Also what was once considered a 10-week summer colony in those palatial “cottages,” has become a year-round community for many who used to spend just 3 months out of the year.

A Plan of the Town of Newport in Rhode Island, 1777.
One of the first schools I attended, originally the Seaview Terrace, currently the Carey Mansion.
Thousands of spectators converge on Narragansett Bay for America's Cup World Series.
Today Newport is equally known for its diverse and varied architecture. During the last few decades, many of the great old houses of McAllister’s select little community were either torn down, or had been subdivided and turned into condos. In the past 10 years or so we have seen a change with a new generation rediscovering Newport and restoring houses back into private homes. The town was first settled in 1639.

In the 1970s, Doris Duke, the tobacco heiress and philanthropist, also financed the restoration of many of the 18th century houses, in the historic Point section of town.  

Growing up in Newport, one of the first schools I attended  was located in a dilapidated old mansion, whose facade can be seen in the opening credits to the 1960’s TV show “Dark Shadows.”  

The summer months in Newport have always thrived on events, this summer being no exception. Every weekend and continuing into the week the town was at capacity, hosting one event after the other — the Newport Jazz and Folk festivals, the Tennis Hall of Fame, Tall Ships, Coaching, and the new to the mix, Newport's own film festival (NewportFilm) featuring documentary film series all year long.

Let's not forget the event that helped put the town on the map, the sailing map that is: The America’s Cup sailing race. For a number of years the race left town and went “down under,” but the trials returned this past summer with a totally new vitality and spot on national television no less!

Thousands were able to watch the races from the shoreline of Narragansett Bay with cocktails in hand without ever stepping aboard a boat. The multi-hulls careened around short courses at dangerously high speeds for short intervals a mere stone's throw from shore. They were all followed by a flag-flying spectator fleet, a melange of yachts of every conceivable size and shape, speed boats, canoes, even kayaks.

When I tell people I grew up in Newport they automatically assume I sail on boats on a regular basis. Actually most of my friends who live here rarely ever set foot on a boat. I did sail a bit as a child, so I was happy to be able to see one of the races with all the masses.
Slim Aarons enjoying a day yachting.
I was inspired by the great photographer Slim Aarons — who shot a lot of Newport through the years — to shoot a pictorial on some of the people I know here in town.  Although there are not many of the Old Guard left, we were lucky enough convince a few to pose.

Nick Mele had been shooting some wonderful pictures up here, including the one of his Grandmother Oatsie Charles, so I enlisted him and another friend Alex Kendall, who grew up here as well, to shoot the portraits for the story.

Alex Kendall lives and works in Breckenridge, Colorado. She studied photography at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Nick Mele graduated from Georgetown University and studied photography at ICP in New York. He currently lives in Newport with his wife Molly.
Betty Blake at her home, Indian Spring. Betty, known to her friends as "Boop," spends her winters in Dallas, Texas. She is a noted collector of contemporary art. Photo: Nick Mele.
Nick shot this portrait of his grandmother Oatsie Charles. After many years of living in Washington DC, Oatsie now lives in Newport full time. Photo: Nick Mele.
Daisy Briggs and Brooke Blake in the garden of Betty Blake's (Brooke's grandmother) Indian Spring. Daisy attends the Wheeler School in Providence and Brooke attends Pomfret School in Connecticut. Photo: Alex Kendall.
Ruth Buchanan Wheeler at Beaulieu, her house in Newport. Ruth and her late husband, Wiley T. Buchanan, purchased and restored the house in the early '60s. Mr. Buchanan was Chief of Protocol under President Dwight Eisenhower and served as Ambassador to Austria and Luxembourg. Photo: Nick Mele.
Mary Brown "Brownie Warburton" at Merrillto with her Dachshund Bunny. Originally from Philadelphia, Brownie has lived in Newport for over 30 years. Photo: Alex Kendall.
Ruth Orthwein at her home, Mailands. Ruth is on the board of the Newport Woman's Resource Center and is active in the Newport Music Festival. Photo: Nick Mele.
Helen Winslow. Helen's late husband, John J. Winslow, served as President of the Spouting Rock Beach Association [Bailey's Beach] as well as the Preservation Society of Newport. Photo: Nick Mele.
Pamela O'Connor lives between Newport and Palm Beach, where she works in the real estate business. Photo: Nick Mele.
Ames Yates is the grandson of Claiborne and Nuala Pell. He is currently an on-air reporter for WCTV in Georgia. Photo: Nick Mele.
Edward "Rigley" Beck at Plaisance, in front of a portrait of his mother Mary, painted in the 1930s by Philip Alexius de László. Rigley's godparents were the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Photo: Nick Mele.
Victoria and Joe Mele photographed by their son Nick. Victoria is an artist. She and Joe live at Land's End, formally the home of Edith Wharton. Photo: Nick Mele.
Mrs. Claiborne "Nuala" Pell at her home, Pelican Ledge. Nuala's late husband was U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell. Photo: Nick Mele.
Hilary Dick at her mother [Nicole Limbocker's] house. Hilary grew up between Newport and New York. She lives in New York with her two daughters. She is also a fashion editor at What2wearwhere.com. Photo: Nick Mele.
Yusha Auchincloss at The Castle at Hammersmith Farm. Yusha was a groomsman at the wedding of his stepsister Jackie Bouvier to John F. Kennedy. Photo: Nick Mele.
Freddy Cushing is an artist and videographer, often working with his wife Caterine Milinaire. They divide their time between Newport summers and Costa Rican winters. Photo: Nick Mele.
Topsy Taylor photographed on the dock of her private escape, The Island, once known as the Graves Point Fishing Club. Topsy pilots her own helicopter and often lands right off the house on the Island, where she hosts intimate gatherings with friends and family. She founded a private helicopter service in 1985 called HeliNY. Photo: Nick Mele.
Lila Warburton divides her time between New York  and Newport and St Barts. She works in the field of film finance. Photo: Nick Mele.
Nina and Pieter Taselaar in the ballroom at their home, Oakwood. Pieter is a businessman and an avid sailer. Nina is a family therapist with a practice in New York City. Photo: Nick Mele.
Amanda and Claudia Taselaar on the grass tennis court at their parents home, Oakwood. Amanda is in high school and Claudia is attending Georgetown University. Photo: Nick Mele.
Ryan Mazin is currently studying medicine at the University of Florida, Gainsville. He spends his summers in Newport. Photo: Nick Mele.
Andrea Van Beuren and Roger Kass with their son Lucian. Andrea is one of the founders and artistic director of NewportFilm [NewportFilm.com], a year-round documentary film series. Roger Kass is a motion picture producer and an entertainment and media lawyer, in addition to producing plays on and off Broadway. Photo: Nick Mele.
Courtney Moss and her sons George and Oliver at Fort Adams on their boat. Courtney and her husband George split their time between Newport and New York. Courtney co- founded the fashion line, Glamourpussnyc. Photo: Nick Mele.
Annie Owen-Pontez and Hal Pontez at their home, Watermelon House, with her brood of Lurchers. Hal is President of HPI, LLC. They live between Houston and Newport. Photo: Nick Mele.
Abigail Owen-Pontez grew up in Texas and Newport. She attends Yale University, studying psychology and neuroscience. On her free time, she rides with the Yale Equestrian Team. Photo: Nick Mele.
Annie and Ryan Warren. Their great grandmother, Mary Warren, was founder of the Preservation Society of Newport. Annie attends the University of Richmond. Ryan graduated from Brown and is now living and working in New York as a clinical research assistant at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. Photo: Nick Mele.
Michael McCarty and Dale Tatum Mercer. Michael owns and operates the popular restaurant and bar, McCarty's in Palm Beach. He spends his summers in Newport. Dale is an interior designer. Photo: Nick Mele.
Earl and Elizabeth McMillen live between Newport and Beaufort, South Carolina. Earl restores and charters classic yachts for his company, McMillenYachts, Inc. Elizabeth is an interior designer. Photo: Nick Mele.
Molly Douglas Mele. Molly grew up in Newport and Washington D.C. She married Nick Mele this past July in Newport. Molly runs a premium men's raw denim company, LockSicker.com, with her father. Photo: Nick Mele.
Kelly Cushing on the rocks at The Ledges. Kelly is a designer and entrepreneur. She also lives in Palm Beach with her son Oliver. Photo: Nick Mele.
Jonna Chewning photographed  in the garden of her home. Ms. Chewning splits her time between Newport and Vero Beach. Photo: Alex Kendall.
Kate Brierly at her dress shop "Isoude" on Bellevue Avenue, which she opened 2 years ago. Kate studied fashion at FIT in New York and at The Rhode Island School of Design, and worked in New York for the design house Chado Ralph Rucci prior to launching her own line. She divides her time between a farmhouse in Jamestown and New York. Photo: Alex Kendall.
Diana Oehrli at her mother Lisette Prince's house. When not visiting Newport, Diana lives in Gstaad, Switzerland with her 2 children. She works at Consenda AG and is in the process of writing a novel. She also has her own blog [Lifeintheswissalps.com]. Her great great grandfather, Frederick H. Prince, purchased the "Marble House" in 1932 from Alva Vanderbilt. Photo: Alex Kendall.
Matt and Cory Plumb with their children. Cory is a jewelry designer and Matt is a driver and team manager for Rum Bum Auto Racing. Photo: Alex Kendall.
Aletta Cooper at her home Sunnycroft. Aletta lives year-round in Newport and owns the home furnishings store Spring Fever. Photo: Alex Kendall.