Notes from the Field: Clouds Hill House Museum
High atop a beautiful hill in Warwick, RI, sits the Clouds Hill House Museum, perched in all its stoic glory among luscious gardens and shady trees, harkening from something out of a children’s storybook. The long, winding driveway up the hill only reveals the first glimpse of the house upon its final bend, and in June, one can’t help but be struck by the beauty of huge, white porch curtains, blowing freely in the wind.
And yet, this beauty is not unmatched by the ornamentation and designs of the house within. Stepping through the front doors, one’s jaw drops even a bit further.
The design and decor of the interior rooms of Clouds Hill feature various themes throughout the house. Close to the entry hall is the Egyptian themed reception room, lauded as one of the most important Egyptian-inspired interior design in North America, featuring a beautifully hand-painted frieze of Egyptian calligraphics, a fireplace surround adorned by two Egyptian handmaiden statues, and custom designed furniture pieces featuring an Egyptian Pharaoh’s head and other ornamentation carved for decoration.
Adjacent to the Egyptian reception room is the dining hall, where the theme is ostensibly characterized by water foul. Carved and painted birds of all varieties are perched or hung (see photo of the copper quail wall-hanging) throughout the room, each with its own significance or symbolism which would have been understood by any guest visiting the house a century ago.
While the Clouds Hill estate is still a residence for the latest descendants of the original Slater family, the main house is open for public tours. Make sure not to miss the ‘gator lounging in the attic billiards room when you visit!
The Rhode Island Historical Society’s RHODI Project is funded by a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Scholarly Communication and Information Technology Program.