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Editor’s Note


In this issue of Newport History, both articles focus on the accomplishments of a handful of privileged individuals who left their mark on the cultural life of Aquidneck Island during the Gilded Age. These men and women of means were quite different from the better-known Vanderbilts, Astors, and Belmonts, who enlisted grand architecture and social pageantry to promote aristocratic status. Rather, the subjects of this issue of the journal pursued distinctive intellectual and personal interests, and embraced architectural styles that mirrored a lifestyle centered on quiet self-fulfillment. In the lead article, Peter Colt Josephs draws upon a large collection of family papers and photographs in exploring an unusual residence originally called Louisiana, built during the early 1880s on Easton’s Point in Middletown. Peter Colt Josephs is the youngest grandchild of the patrons of the house, Alice V. Wilson Josephs and Lyman Colt Josephs. Four of Newport’s Renaissance men—Alexander Agassiz, Raphael Pumpelly, Theodore Montgomery Davis, and William Fitzhugh Whitehouse—are the subjects of an article by Dr. Evelyn M. Cherpak, Head of the Naval Historical Collection at the Naval War College in Newport since 1974. Her intriguing discussion of the lives and careers of these men not only reveals the accomplishments of four adventurous and genial personalities of Gilded Age Newport but also paints a picture of the cultural context surrounding those not caught up in the familiar rituals of New York society.