Warwick’s Aldrich Mansion will always be a beautiful wedding venue, but the historic former home of U.S. Senator Nelson Aldrich, completed in the early 1900s [it took 16 years to build], will be open to more members of the general public through a new and exciting events schedule.
Aldrich Mansion communications manager Elizabeth Kelley said the mansion had gained a reputation as a wedding venue and that area of the business is very successful. However, she and the rest of the team at Aldrich were looking for ways to bring more people to the mansion.
“I just want people to know we are here,” said John Gazerro, executive director at Aldrich Mansion. “Weddings are the draw here. We just wanted to expand on that.”
“We had really established ourselves as a wedding venue,” explained Kelley. “We’re at the point where we are able to expand beyond that.”
While the mansion was once the home of Senator Aldrich and showcases the beautiful architecture of the early 1900s, it is not a fully furnished museum like many of the Newport mansions. After it was the private home of Senator Aldrich, the mansion became the property of the Diocese of Providence and was used as the Our Lady of Providence Seminary for a period of time.
When the seminary moved to a smaller location, Kelley said the mansion was “laying low” until it became a venue.
“Most mansions have opened up to be more of a public format,” she said. “We don’t come from that background.”
So Kelley and the rest of the staff began to come up with ways to bring the public into the mansion to soak up its history. While they are known for hosting weddings, private parties or business conferences, the mansion has hosted a successful series of Christmas lunches and dinner dances for a number of years. Last Christmas’ three lunches and two dinner dances had total attendance of 600 people. Similarly, the Christmas Open House had close to 300 attendees.
To build off that, a series of non-wedding events have been scheduled for the public, including wine tastings, a Valentine’s Day dinner for couples, a St. Patrick’s Day social and even a Mother’s Day Brunch. More special events will be announced in May.
“I like to have events where people come and see what the mansion had to offer,” said Kelley.
Gazerro said he is hopeful these family-friendly events will catch on. With the weather warming up, he believes more people will be able to take advantage of these events as an opportunity to get out for a good time at a unique venue.
“I’m very excited about some of these new events, and having people come in and see the mansion,” he said.
These events will also bring some revenue into the mansion, but Gazerro explained weddings will always be the main draw of Aldrich Mansion.
Kelley said that people who attend a special event at Aldrich Mansion would have the opportunity to experience a unique venue. Even though the location is not a historical museum like similar estates, it is still home to a great deal of history.
“The architectural significance of this building is huge,” said Kelley, adding that even the ocean views from the mansion are one of a kind. “It is one of the only mansions in the country that has quite a view because it’s built up on a hill.”
Each event also will feature a meal, whether it is a full dinner, buffet or small plates prepared by Aldrich Mansion’s professional chef, and guests will always be treated to the mansion’s signature personal service.
“We’re very concerned about high standards,” said Kelley.
While these events are designed for the public, most will have a limited number of tickets. Kelley explained that there are different configurations of the first floor rooms that can be used for events, and they are expanding to the second floor for meetings but the mansion still cannot accommodate large crowds.
“It was not designed to hold hundreds and hundreds of people,” said Kelley. “We’re basically optimizing and maximizing the space we have.”
For example, the first annual Valentine’s Day Dinner at the Mansion was limited to 40 couples, allowing for a romantic evening of dining and dancing in the Great Reception Hall, which was lit only by LED candles.
“The response was fabulous,” said Kelley about the event. “Everyone had a great time.”
Kelley explained the evening featured dancing on the porch, and a harp player and violinist providing entertainment for the night. Since the dance floor was not inside the reception hall like at a wedding, Kelley said that is one example of these events allowing the team to find different ways to use the rooms.
Another example is the St. Patrick’s Day event scheduled for March 14. The Grand Library, which is usually only used for grand dessert displays at weddings, will be transformed into an Irish pub for the evening. Kelley called the mansion the ideal space for the St. Patrick’s Day celebration because it already reminded her of an Irish Pub.
The evening will feature a buffet with traditional Irish food, traditional Irish drinks such as beer and whiskey, and traditional Irish music played by the band Devine’s Diner. The band will play in a “seisun,” meaning a core group of players will be joined by special guest musicians throughout the performance. “Just as you would see in an Irish pub,” said Kelley.
The St. Patrick’s Irish Nigh at Aldrich Mansion will be on Friday, March 14 from 7 to 11 p.m. Tickets are $40 (including gratuity and taxes) with a cash bar for the over 21 crowd and free onsite parking. RSVP and payment is required by March 7.
Gazerro is looking forward to the Mother’s Day Brunch on May 11.
“I always felt that would be very popular,” he said, explaining it would be a good opportunity to get out with the family, have some great brunch and explore the historic grounds. “It’s always something that was talked about but never went anywhere.”
There is also a wine tasting with six wine-paired courses scheduled for March 28 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $65 per person. Kelley could picture the wine tastings as becoming a monthly event, while she hopes the holiday events will become annual traditions.
“We would like to become part of people’s traditions for celebrating these holidays,” said Kelley.
For more information about these and other events or to purchase tickets, call 739-6580 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.