Living with Style, People, Places & Spaces, The Newport Diary


The Iconic Swiss Village

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It is so very exciting for me to pen, as the first blog of 2022, an event that served as a significant Christmas gift for Newport. The beloved and iconic Swiss Village Farm, a charming bit of old Europe that had, for years, belonged to one of the largest estates on our island, was donated as a 25-acre conservation easement to the Aquidneck Land Trust. Significantly, this means that this pastoral landscape cannot be developed; it will remain open space as it has been for 106 years.

This is a major gift to a highly regarded institution carrying out a time sensitive mission for saving farmland, watershed properties, wildlife habitat, and historic viewscapes, as well as open space on Aquidneck Island. Swiss Village’s rolling hills and ledge outcroppings, surrounded by stone walls, are handsome reminders of the natural beauty of this island.

Many of you will remember the whimsical Swiss Village chapter in my first book, Private Newport: At Home and in the Garden. In 1915 it was acquired by yachtsman and railroad baron Arthur Curtiss James to be added to his estate, one of the largest on Aquidneck Island.

Fast forward to 1999, when the bucolic landscape and fairytale-sized stone buildings were almost lost to developers but were rescued at the last moment by two of the island’s most ardent preservationists. One of them, Dorrance “Dodo” Hamilton, created the Swiss Village Foundation (it is she who also later restored the Blue Garden in the same neighborhood of the Village). For the past twenty years, the SVF has carried out its mission “to cryo-preserve the genetics of rare and endangered domestic livestock breeds.” Many of the interiors of these intriguing stone buildings were retrofitted to serve the needs of this undertaking.

And now, as of 2022, a third generation of owners, Ocean Hour Farm, will continue the stewardship of this beloved property that has been such a part of our island home.

Importantly, the new owners have a deep interest in ocean health and sustainability practices as well as regenerative agriculture. In taking this first step of conserving the land, they are supporting the fact that improving our ocean’s health starts on the land. This is an important point to a community that has such a high profile as an international sailing venue.

I’m so excited to share this news with all of you who follow Private Newport! May your New Year also be filled with exciting accomplishments, good health, and a positive spirit.

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Bettie Bearden Pardee

About Bettie Bearden Pardee

Author of Private Newport and Living Newport, garden furniture designer (The Parterre Bench), national lecturer, and entertaining expert. An honoree for the second year on "The Salonniere 100 America's Best Party Hosts", she was also the host and creative producer of "The Presidential Palate: Entertaining at the White House".

3 thoughts on “The Iconic Swiss Village

  1. This is great! I wished more developers understood the importance of land. I live in NC and everywhere is turning into subdivisions or shopping malls. I’ve said I don’t know how humans will survive because of no land. I’ve said I guess we will breath by some machine and eat out of containers of some sort.

  2. Oh my what bucolic scenery! So peaceful, gave me great joy and to know someone is
    going to take care of it even better. Thank you for sharing.
    I would like to thank you Bettie for your note on traditional homes and their decoration. I have been obsessing about should I go more modern as there are some beautiful photos and pieces of furniture. But truth is I love my traditional decorating especially with so many antiques I’ve collected and pieces from my family it brings me such happiness. So thank you for standing up for tradition.
    Best to you and yours, Phyllis

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