BHS students visit Rhode Island

Pauline Alterio, Social Media and Website Manager

Students from Bellefonte Area High School’s Social Studies Department toured the historic town of Newport, Rhode Island as a part of a day-long field trip December 10. Students visited several grand mansions, each renowned for their stunning detail and opulence from construction during America’s Gilded Age. The trip was led by government teachers Mr. Edward Fitzgerald and Mrs. Allyson Durney, who wanted students to explore older American architecture and the importance of the great, wealthy families who defined both such architecture and American history itself.

Students explored the homes as a group, with electronic tours guiding them through grand halls and verandas. They learned both about the families who built the mansions – the Vanderbilts and Trumbauers among them – the daily routines and duties of guests and staff, and of the significance of the homes’ architecture and particular styles. 

“It was interesting to see the size of the houses and architecture,” senior Analise Uhring said. “The fireplaces and sunset at the last house were really cool.”

After morning tours of two homes were complete, students were given the afternoon to explore the town of Newport through its dozens of local restaurants and shops.

“I loved the International Tennis Hall of Fame. [The Hall] came out of nowhere but the facilities were beautiful and it was awesome being able to explore it on my own,” senior Affina Garvin said. “I would love to go back.”

The students later regrouped for a final tour of The Breakers Mansion, a home commissioned by Cornelius Vanderbilt II in 1893 that features over 50 enormous rooms and grand halls in a Versailles-inspired construction.

“The paintings in The Breakers were beautiful. There were many different artists from different locations around Europe that came together for an astonishing collection. The stained glass, gold-work, and mosaics were also breathtaking,” Affina said.