Tour The Newport Mansions

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John Rodman, director of museum experience for the Preservation Society of Newport County talks about Newport’s famous mansions and what visitors can expect if they pay a visit in the upcoming months.

Below is a list of the mansions and a bit about each of them. For more information visit www.newportmansions.org.

The Breakers

The Breakers is the grandest of Newport’s summer “cottages” and a symbol of the Vanderbilt family’s social and financial preeminence in turn of the century America.

Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877) established the family fortune in steamships and later in the New York Central Railroad, which was a pivotal development in the industrial growth of the nation during the late 19th century.

Marble House

Marble House was built between 1888 and 1892 for Mr. and Mrs. William K. Vanderbilt.  It was a summer house, or “cottage”, as Newporters called them in remembrance of the modest houses of the early 19th century. But Marble House was much more; it was a social and architectural landmark that set the pace for Newport’s subsequent transformation from a quiet summer colony of wooden houses to the legendary resort of opulent stone palaces.

The Elms

The Elms was the summer residence of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Julius Berwind of Philadelphia and New York. Mr. Berwind made his fortune in the Pennsylvania coal industry. In 1898, the Berwinds engaged Philadelphia architect Horace Trumbauer to design a house modeled after the mid-18th century French chateau d’Asnieres (c.1750) outside Paris.

Construction of The Elms was completed in 1901 at a cost reported at approximately $1.4 million. The interiors and furnishings were designed by Allard and Sons of Paris and were the setting for the Berwinds’ collection of Renaissance ceramics, 18th century French and Venetian paintings, and Oriental jades.

Rosecliff

Commissioned by Nevada silver heiress Theresa Fair Oelrichs in 1899, architect Stanford White modeled Rosecliff after the Grand Trianon, the garden retreat of French kings at Versailles. After the house was completed in 1902, at a reported cost of $2.5 million, Mrs. Oelrichs hosted fabulous entertainments here, including a fairy tale dinner and a party featuring famed magician Harry Houdini.

Rosecliff is now preserved through the generosity of its last private owners, Mr. and Mrs. J. Edgar Monroe, of New Orleans. They gave the house, its furnishings, and an endowment to the Preservation Society in 1971.

Scenes from several films have been shot on location at Rosecliff, including “The Great Gatsby,” “True Lies,” “Amistad” and “27 Dresses.”

For more tips and to meet with travel experts from a variety of destinations be sure to visit the Ski, Sun and Travel Expo at the Crowne Plaza in Cromwell on Sunday, Nov. 24 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Presenters will have information about cruises, ski vacations, trips to the Caribbean islands as well as vacations closer to home throughout New England and New York. For more information, visit www.skisunandtravel.com.

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