2009-06-04 / About Town

Hunt work is the focus of preservation lecture

The Preservation Society of Newport County will host a lecture by architectural historian Richard Guy Wilson, Ph.D, on the life and work of iconic American architect Richard Morris Hunt tonight, Thursday, June 4, in the Great Hall of one of Hunt's greatest creations, The Breakers.

What to call the architecture and the art of the period 1870 to 1910 has been controversial, with terms as diverse as Gilded Age and the American Renaissance perhaps the most common. Both speak to the attempt by Americans to try to rival the Old World and its cultural supremacy.

Architect Richard Morris Hunt took this competition as his agenda, and in his various houses, such as The Breakers, created a distinctive American expression. Professor Wilson's talk, Gilding the American Renaissance, will explore Hunt's work, with particular focus on Newport.

Richard Guy Wilson holds the Commonwealth Professor's Chair in Architectural History at the University of Virginia, where he is also the chair of the Department of Architectural History. His specialty is the architecture, design and art of the 18th to the 20th century, both in America and abroad.

He has received a number of academic honors, among them a Guggenheim fellow, prizes for distinguished writing, and an honorary membership in the American Institute of Architects. He has directed the Victorian Society's Nineteenth Century Summer School, which has been located in Boston, Philadelphia, and currently Newport, since 1979. He has served as an advisor and commentator for a number of television programs on PBS, C-Span, the History Channel and A&E. Professor Wilson is also the author or joint author of 14 books that deal with American and modern architecture.

The lecture will take place at The Breakers, 44 Ochre Point Ave., at 7:30 p.m. on June 4. Admission is $10 for Preservation Society members, $15 for the general public. Advance registration is requested, online at www.NewportMansions. org, or by calling 847-1000, ext. 154.

The Preservation Society of Newport County, Rhode Island is a non-profit educational organization accredited by the American Association of Museums and dedicated to preserving and interpreting the area's historic architecture, landscapes and decorative arts. Its 11 historic properties—seven of them National Historic Landmarks— span more than 250 years of American architectural and social development.

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