Julia Ward Howe’s Other House

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lawtonWe think of Julia Ward Howe at Oak Glen, a house that is still standing.  Julia had a house in Lawton’s Valley before that. 1853 was her first summer in Portsmouth.  Julia lived in Boston, but she had deep Rhode Island roots.  There was a water powered mill near by where the local farmers brought their corn to be ground.  Julia found this place an inspiration.  Her poem, “In My Valley” was her first writing in the new house.  She wrote: “My first writing in the new house, where may God help and bless us all.  May no dark action shade our record in this house, and if possible, no surpassing sorrow.”  Read the poem here:  In my valley-From sunset ridge: poems, old and new

In 1865 Julia’s husband Samuel sold the Lawton Valley house.  By 1870 the bought Oak Glen which was a short way from Lawton’s Valley.  Julia would live at Oak Glen until her death there in 1910.


Whose Home? Green Animals

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P1060542Green Animals: Brayton House c. 1859 Cory’s Lane

In 1877 Thomas Brayton treasurer of the Union Cotton Manufacturing Company (more like principal operating officer today), bought property in Portsmouth to be a summer home for his family. Thomas Brayton hired a Portuguese mill worker, Jose Carriero, to develop and manage the grounds of his Portsmouth estate in 1905. Gardener Joseph Carreiro, superintendent of the property from 1905 to 1945, and his son-in-law, George Mendonca, superintendent until 1985, were responsible for creating the topiaries. There are more than 80 pieces of topiary throughout the gardens, including animals and birds, geometric figures and ornamental designs, sculpted from California privet, yew, and English boxwood.
When Thomas Brayton died at age 96 on May 10, 1939, he this estate to his daughter Alice, age 61 and his son Edward, age 51.  Alice Brayton had re-opened the main house on the Portsmouth estate in 1936 to begin renovations to make it her permanent residence. She moved to the estate in the spring of 1939 naming it Green Animals for the topiary animals in the garden. Miss Brayton left Green Animals to The Preservation Society of Newport County at her death in 1972.

Alice Brayton

  1. During Depression she helped to found a relief program in Fall River to bring milk, food and clothing to the needy.
  2. Founded a nursing association in Fall River.
  3. Published books including contributing to “Gardens of America”
  4. Loved to garden.
  5. Loved to entertain – hosted Jacqueline Bourvier’s coming out party.