JHS Tea Party a portal to the past

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It was a classic example of yesteryear, back when people enjoyed cucumber with dill cream cheese sandwiches and scones with clotted cream, strawberry, butter and tea.

It was held inside the extraordinary elegance of the Clouds Hill Museum, a Victorian mansion that’s listed on the National Register of Historical Places that was built in 1872 by William Smith Slater, founder of Pawtucket’s Slater Mills, for his daughter Elizabeth Slater on her marriage to Alfred Augustus Reed, Jr. back in 1872.

Clouds Hill, which offers visitors a portal of the past, has remained in the family ever since and has become an important part of the City of Warwick and State of Rhode Island and offers groups like the Johnston Historical Society such events as last Friday afternoons High Tea.

There is no paid staff at Clouds Hill, which operates as a 501©3 non-profit at 4157 Post Road in Warwick and has passed from family to family until reaching its current owner Anne D. Hoist.

Hoist, along with her fellow corporate partners Wayne A. and Christine E. Cabral, treated JHS members to a taste and tour – replete with tea sandwiches, scones, fruit compote, mini desserts and black tea – of Clouds Hill that even offers a breath-taking view of Narragansett Bay from its location high above Post Road.

“What an elegant setting,” said Louis McGowan, the JHS’ president who sat at a table inside the formal parlor with Ida Silva, Linda Jackson and his wife Bel McGowan. “There is so much epic detail here.”

People like Anthony Ursillo and Tim Kee, in fact, marveled at the hand-carved fireplace mantles and original furniture that dates back to the years when Slater Mill was built.

Other JHS members were somewhat in awe of the marvelous Victorian setting and as Ursillo said later, “Today was both educational and delightful.”

During a self-tour of Clouds Hill, JHS members marveled at the textile exhibit and extraordinary woodwork and furnishings throughout the three-floor Victorian mansion that’s available for a number of private and corporate events as well as the unique carriage museum during those warm weather months.

“I felt like I was back in the good old days,” Ursillo, whose family still owns the one-time Shang Bailey Roadhouse (circa 1798) and what was once the Log Gift Shoppe on Hartford Avenue, offered while enjoying a smoked turkey tea sandwich with raspberry mayonnaise. “Today was special; sitting at a table that has hand-crocheted doilies, embroidered placemats and conversing with our good friends in surroundings that are ever so elegant.”

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