Tucked away in one of my closets is an antique wicker doll carriage abandned many years ago by my now grown-up daughters. My mother-in-law, the late Dorothy Hogan, gave us the carriage when our daughter, Casey, was born. Casey was the first girl in two generations of Hogans, and Dorothy saved that carriage hoping someday she’d have a granddaughter to enjoy it. The fabric is worn and frayed, but the metal wheels and hinges still operate smoothly after all these years.
It was an expensive toy, elegant and built to last. In the early 1900s it belonged to a little girl who summered in a Newport “Cottage” off Ocean Drive. Sometime in the 1930s it was given to Dorothy’s mother, Ethel Rabatin, a Hungarian immigrant who served as upstairs maid to the Bruygere family.
At the turn-of-the-century European immigrants came to Newport in droves settling in tight knit communities in the Fifth Ward and on The Point. They were gardeners, governesses, chamber maids, cooks, grooms, master carpenters, masons and others who kept the mansions humming.
I imagine there are many stories sitll alive in the memories of Newport families descended from “The Help.” If you have a Newport mansion story of your own, please share it here: