Opening Day at Gilbert Stuart Birthplace & Museum
If you’ve got $1, you know artist Gilbert Stuart’s work – his unfinished Athenaeum portrait of George Washington is the one you see on the front of the bill. But a visit to the great 18th century portrait painter’s birthplace has a lot more to offer than just art – and it won’t cost you a lot of Washingtons, either.
April 29, 2018 is the official annual opening date for one of Rhode Island’s best-kept secrets. The Gilbert Stuart Birthplace and Museum is situated on 23 acres in the woods of Saunderstown, Rhode Island on a beautiful millpond and stream, with a fresh water fishing pond (which members can access via rented rowboats – see below.) Opening day includes a Spring Fair and Fish on the Run.
The main feature is the 1750 home and snuff mill of the Stuart family – an authentically restored 18th-century, gambrel-roofed workingman’s home furnished with period antiques and reproductions of Stuart’s works. While Stuart is the headliner, the building itself is unique because it was both a family dwelling and a place of industry -- it’s the first snuff mill in the American colonies.
The house itself isn’t all there is to do here. There’s a historic grist mill, 23 acres of nature trails with scenic views, an herb garden, a fish ladder, and a pretty little art gallery. Gallery hours are from 10 am to 4 pm with admission charged.
The museum is open Thursday through Monday (closed Tuesday and Wednesday) from 10 am – 3 pm (last admission.) $10 adults; $6 for children 6-12. Guided tours are given on the hour and get raves; don’t miss them. Ponying up for a family membership ($60) allows you to rent a rowboat to explore (or fish) the pristine 57-acre Carr Pond, which is tranquility itself. Visit www.gilbertstuartmuseum.org for more information.