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NARRAGANSETTâ€”Much of Narragansettâ€™s physical past today is manifest in monuments such as The Towers and Kinney Bungalow, throwbacks to a town which saw the most wealthy and influential icons of the Gilded Age pass among its streets. There were numerous structures, however, that have been lost to present generations, and their memory exists only in the minds of nostalgic historians or, more commonly, on postcards.
Federico Santi and John Gacher, co-owners of The Drawing Room Antique Shop in Newport, discovered a number of postcards depicting Narragansettâ€™s past, and decided upon displaying them for the public to see on their website.
â€śWeÂ purchased theseÂ (Narragansett) post cardsÂ earlier this past year and thought they were so interesting that I created a web site for them,â€ť said Santi. â€śWe have listed NewportÂ Mansion postcards online for years as a publicÂ service and have created YouTube videos of turn of the century downtown Newport, Newport Beaches, snf Newport's Washington Square.â€ť
The grandeur of Narragansettâ€™s once world-famous hotels are fully depicted on the four by six message cards. There is the old Casino, where tennis matches were once played on fertile lawns as Towers stood nearby. The Matthewson Hotel, built in 1868, could hold up to 500 guests. The Imperial Hotel was considered one of the most luxurious hotels around. That history remains apparent in the many postcards that Santi and Gacher have collected and displayed on their website.
â€śPost cards are really photographs, often of places and buildingsthat no longer exist,â€ť said Santi. â€śUrban renewal, demolition, and changes in economic climates all canÂ change the face of a resort community like Narragansett.â€ť
â€śSome people are surprised to see the largeÂ hotels, tourist venues and mansions that once 'made' the community an important touristÂ destination,â€ť he added.
The buildings of turn-of-the-century Narragansett are long gone, grasped by destructive fires or time-worn neglect. Their images, however, persist to the present day, a reminder of the past which the town has borne.
If you go
The Drawing Room Antique Shop is located at 152 Spring St., Newport, and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. throughout the year. The poscards of Narragansett can be views at www.drawrm.com/narry.htm.