Chepstow, a Significant George Champlin Mason Newport Villa

ARCHITECTURE


The magnificent Chepstow

Chepstow, the 1860-61 Italianate villa just off Bellevue Avenue, Newport, designed by architect George Champlin Mason, Sr., was bequeathed to the Preservation Society in 1986 by Alletta Morris McBean.   Chepstow is open for public touring every year,  for a shorter operating schedule than the Gilded Age houses.  Currently, it is  preserved as it was when last used by a member of one of America’s most historically important families. Chepstow was recently opened early for one day  in April for the Neighborhoods of Newport House Tour, benefiting St. Michael's School. Like Hunter House, and Isaac Bell House, its regular operating season will begin on May 26.

 

Touring the charming mansion is an experience of another, more gracious era, as furnishings, paintings, and window treatments have been left as they were when the house was last lived in.

 

A first floor parlor at Chepstow

Newport resident Alletta Morris Cooper is the niece of Alletta Morris McBean (1912-1986), who owned Chepstow and summered there from 1950-1986.  The Alletta Morris McBean Charitable Trust has been instrumental in the preservation of many historically significant buildings located in Newport, as well as the preservation of open space on Aquidneck Island. Recently, the trust awarded a $100,000 grant to the Newport Performing Arts Center to assist in it efforts to restore the Opera House Theater on Washington Square, Newport, to a live entertainment venue.

 

Mrs.  Cooper chatted with members of the Parents Association recently on the grounds of St. Michael’s Country Day School (where she herself once attended!) to share her memories of visiting her aunt at Chepstow in the 1960s-1980s.

 

A formal fireplace with a portrait of George Washington

Alletta was a child when she and her mother (Frances Elizabeth Morris,  Alletta Morris McBean’s sister) moved to Newport in the 1960s, and she remembers going to dinner parties at Chepstow and playing charades in the big sunroom.

 

“The windows were always open, and fresh air was always blowing through. It was truly a lived-in house,” said Alletta.

 

“When you go to Chepstow today, it looks very much like it did when my aunt lived there except that there were fresh flowers everywhere. She loved roses. She also would have the porch done up as another room, with awnings, rugs, and rattan furniture with brilliant yellow and green fabric on the cushions.”

 

The vivid garden porch

“Even though she had fabulous furniture and collections, this was her summer house, and it was casual and fun. She entertained a great deal. She wanted it to be a place where people had fun, and came to parties.”

 

Chepstow is filled with things Aunt Alletta collected and things she inherited, and they were all things she loved. She lived with her collections and enjoyed them, whether it was Sevres china or William Trost Richards paintings,” says Alletta.

 

Alletta Morris Cooper has inherited the Morris family love of decorative objects. Her “Spring Fever” shop, on Newport’s Spring Street, is filled with new and vintage decorative objects, and for many years she was an antiques dealer as well.

 

Afternoon sun on the latticed porch

 

 Her name is one more thing Alletta shares with her aunt as it is a Morris family tradition to give the name “Alletta” to the first girl in each generation. “The tradition has been carried on for 18 or 19 generations, and supposedly the first female child born in New Amsterdam was an Alletta in our family,” says Alletta Morris Cooper.

 

And just as her aunt once enjoyed welcoming friends and family to Chepstow, Alletta Morris Cooper was happy the doors were opened for the Neighborhoods of Newport event: “I’m thrilled Chepstow is on the House Tour so people  enjoyed the house.”

       

                                                                        -- Jill Cooper

 

 Chepstow image by Stephen Mattos, photo courtesy of The Preservation Society of Newport County


 

For a complete list of Preservation Society of Newport properties available to tour in 2012, go to www.NewportMansions.org
 

 

Chepstow's rear aspect

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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