The Point Association’s Oral History Project
In connection with the 60th anniversary of the Point Association, the History and Archives Committee is conducting a series of conversations with longtime residents of the Point. We are also talking with people about their businesses that have been an important part of the fabric of our community.
Our goal is to capture the cultural aspects of our neighborhood as well as the impact of important events that occurred during the past 60 years including Operation Clapboard, Newport Restoration Foundation and the Navy pull out from the area. We are grateful to the participants and thank them for sharing their memories with us.
We will be adding to this collection over time and welcome those who would like to participate in the project to contact us at HistoryandArchives@thepointassociation.org. We also welcome your comments.
We would like to thank Lindsay French, PhD, Associate Professor, RISD for her guidance and Thomas Ricci for technical training.
Oral History Conversations
Click on the links to hear the conversations.
Jane MacLeod Walsh, a lifelong Pointer, talks about growing up on the Point—a time when catboats were popular, visitors arrived by ferry and the train tracks were located where the Visitor Center is now located. She also talks about early restoration efforts of Operation Clapboard. Jane researched many of the houses and provided signs for the owners. Jane’s tells many stories of the interesting and talented neighbors that make up our beloved neighborhood.
Click here to hear the oral history: Jane MacLeod Walsh Oral History
Anne Ramsey Cuvelier, owner of Villa Marina talks about her family the Goddards and Covells, the history of the Villa Marina and of her life on the Point.
Click here to hear the oral history: Ann Ramsey Cuvelier Oral History
The associated Green Light Article is in the Summer 2016 issue.
Ilse Nesbitt, artist and owner of The Third and Elm Street Press talks about her art training and her 50 years on The Point running the Elm Street Press and raising a family.
Click here to hear the oral history: Ilse Nesbitt Oral History
Robert Foley, Preservation Director, Newport Restoration Foundation talks about Operation Clapboard and his own experience restoring his home on the Point.
Click here to hear the oral history: Robert Foley Oral History
Read the associated Green Light article in the Spring 2016 issue.
Allan Manuel talks about growing up on the Point including the hurricane of 1938, the shops on the Point, his summer job at the Torpedo Factory, and the building of America’s Cup and The Claiborne Pell Newport Bridge. (Photo: Norma and Allan Manuel sitting on playhouse porch, 7 Walnut Street, August 2, 1936.)
Click here to hear the oral history: Allan Manuel Oral History
Green Light Article: Allan Manuel Oral History Article.pdf
Beth Cullen, past President, The Point Association of Newport, RI talks about living on the Point and the Point Association.
Click here to hear the oral history: https://youtu.be/9M3CDwYWxtM
Oral Histories From the Point Association’s Archives
The Point Association has been fortunate to have many individuals over the years who helped restore and preserve our neighborhood. They also took the time to archive our history in photographs, documents and oral histories and discussions. Our committee found a number of cassette tapes in the archives which we had digitized. Dan Titus, IT, Salve Regina University and Salve IT student Jeffrey Peiczarka converted these files to MP3 format which we share with you below. Our many thanks to Dan and Jeffrey for their outstanding work in helping us make these oral histories available to you.
1983 Oral Histories Conducted in 1983
Admiral and Mrs. Eccles 11/3/83
The Admiral discusses how he and Mrs. Eccles arrived in Newport and what it was like in the forties. He later discusses the new roadways in Newport and “interesting character” Tom Crawley the ironworker.
Jack (John J.) Martins 11/8/83 Jack’s family operated Martin’s Liquors on Third and Walnut for 50 years. Jack organized shoreline clean-ups in the Point and was always available to help neighbors. Newport honored Jack by naming a park after him. Jack Discusses the changes in the neighborhood after the Navy pull-out, Doris Duke’s restoration and the building of the bridge. An article about Jack was recently published in our Green Light. Jack Martin.pdf
View on YouTube: Jack Martins Oral History
Gwen (Mrs. George) Behan was born in Newport on May 29, 1910 and was a lifelong resident of The Point. She died at 92 years old. She was the widow of George P. Behan, and celebrated 54 years of marriage together. Gwen attended Rogers High School and Newport Hospital Nursing School. She was a communicant of St. Joseph’s Church. She was an avid reader and traveled widely.
An article by her daughter of Family Memories recently was published in our Green Light. The interview took place on 2/24/97
Here are two articles about Gwen that were published in our Green Light:
Gwen Behan Memories of a Lifetime on the Point.pdf
Suzanna Aubois 3/7/97
Suzanne Marie Henriette Aubois, was born in 1913 and died Monday, February 7, 2005. She was the wife of the late Jean Aubois. Born in Lyon, France, on January 9, 1913, she was the daughter of the late Charles P. and the late Marie F. (Fromenteau) Welte. She worked as a French tutor, teacher, and translator through the years. She lived in Hunter House until 1958 when she moved to 86 Washington Street.
Part 1 Part 1: Suzanna Aubois 1997
1976 An Interview with Gladys Bolhouse
This video was produced by and given to the Point Association Archive by Ned Sherman , formerly of Video Image Productions (VIP) of Newport, Rhode Island. Ned has been living in The Point since 1976.
Dan Murphy interviews Gladys Bolhouse, referring to her as, “the reigning expert on The Point” on May 14, 1990.Gladys delves into the history of the Goddard and Townsend families, along with their homes and businesses. She recalls several places of interest: the butcher shop, barber, rooming houses, early restoration efforts, and houses that were moved. She discusses Doris Duke’s connection to The Point and Operation Clapboard. Mrs Bolhouse was born and lived on the Point. She was the librarian at the Newport Historical Society.
Glady Bolhouse Oral History 1976
1980s Oral Newport Historical Society Neighborhoods of Newport
The Japanese Stroll Garden was conceived and built by Philip & Esther Burnett in the early 1980s. Esther who made several trips to Japan fell in love with Japanese gardening and Japanese tea culture and the garden was the result of that love. It encompasses the principle of seen and hidden whereas you cannot see the entire garden from any one spot. Susan and Bill Farrel now lovingly care for the garden.
1996 Leon Shaw
Leon walks around The Point on April 18, 1996 and shares stories of the houses. Leon Shaw Oral History
1996 An Evening of Restoration Stories
On May 16, 1996 The Point Association hosted an event where Point residents shared the stories of renovating their houses: Townsend House, 72 Bridge Street by Tim Sturtevant, Howland House, 6 Bridge Street, Marjoie Magrudedr, Storer Park Kay O’Brien, 103 Second Street, Frank and Betty Murphy, Caleb Claggett House, 22 Bridge Street, Bart Dunbar and Lisa Lewis, Furture Project, Van Zandt Pier, Beth Cullen, Friends of Van Zandt Pier. A video was made of the presentations.
Here is the brochure for the event: An Evening of Restoration Stories May 15, 1996
We are happy to share it with you via our YouTube Channel: An Evening of Restoration Stories
The Bensons, The John Stevens Shop
Final Marks has become a classic documentary about letter cutting since it was produced in 1978, in both monumental inscriptions and on gravestones. The filmmakers were given complete access over a two year period to the work of the craftsmen of the John Stevens Shop in Newport, Rhode Island, the oldest business in the United States still in continuous operation in the same colonial building. It chronicles the work of John ‘Fud’ Benson, then the owner and principal designer, and, arguably, one of the most accomplished letter cutters in the world, as he and his colleagues lay out and then execute the inscriptions on the then unfinished East Building of the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., designed by I.M. Pei.
Nicke Benson’s TEDx Talk
Nicholas Benson is the owner and operator of the John Stevens Shop, founded in 1705, and a third generation stone carver. He is an NEA National Heritage Fellow and a 2010 MacArtur Fellow. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.