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June 15, 2017

Visit Newport: Newport Mansions

The Elms
A visit to the Preservation Society of Newport County's Newport Mansions takes you back in time to get a glimpse of life from the Colonial Era through the Gilded Age.  Touring any of the 11 properties showcases not only the extravagant lifestyle of the homeowners, but also provides insight into the architectural and social history of that time period.

We were fortunate to receive 5 House Tickets, which allowed us to visit any five properties, excluding Hunter House.

The first property we visited was The Elms, a French-inspired summer "cottage" (as they were called) of Mr.and Mrs. Edward Julius Berwind of Philadelphia and New York.

The Elms







Walking through the mansion, all I could keep saying was "Wow!"

Everyone in our family couldn't get over just how amazing the mansion was - the murals on the ceilings, the ornate furniture, the elaborate sculptures, the antique artwork - each room was like a mini museum.  We couldn't help but imagine how life would be to live in such a lavish home, even if just for a day.

It was so neat to see the different types of rooms - the sitting room, the cold kitchen, the butler's pantry, and even the bathrooms!  I enjoyed how the the personality of each household member was reflected in the colors and decor used in each of their bedrooms.

The remaining properties were just as impressive, with the same kind of opulence that just blew us away.  The grounds outside were stunning as well.  Impeccably maintained landscaping with breathtaking ocean views only added to the magnificence of each property.

Next up was Theresa Fair Oelrich's Rosecliff, which has been seen in movies such as The Great Gatsby and 27 Dresses.

The home had a huge ballroom frequently used for entertaining, and the property continues to be a popular venue for special events today.

Rosecliff




A special Pierre Cardin, 70 years of Innovation exhibit was housed in the Mansion, with many colorful fashions on display.


The Marble House was my favorite of the Mansions. 500,000 cubic feet of marble was used for this cottage that belonged to Mr. and Mrs. William K. Vanderbilt. I loved the different rooms in the mansion, which included a Gothic Room, an immaculate Grand Salon, and even a Trophy Room.

The Marble House




The drapery, the wall coverings, and the artwork in each bedroom created such a luxurious setting!





A Chinese Tea house was also built on property.

The last mansion we visited was the grandest of them all - The Breakers.

The Italian Renaissance-style 70-room summer cottage of the Vanderbilt family was indeed majestic.

The Breakers
The palatial property, with its numerous columns and arches, is a prime example of the Gilded Age, with gold leaf just about every where you look.










Our last stop was the Green Animals Topiary Garden, which is about a 20-minute drive from where the Mansions are located.

Here guests can explore the Brayton House on property, as well as the gardens, which not only is home to more than 80 different topiary pieces, but also boasts a variety of vegetables, berries, dahlias, roses, and more.









Each of the mansions we visited offered self-guided audio tours, which made the visits to the mansions even more intriguing.  I loved hearing about the different people, rooms, and objects that made each property unique.  Listening to the personal stories, discovering the owners' passions, and learning about the history of the mansions was simply fascinating.


The Breakers also offers a "Family Tour," which engages little ones as they seek out specific objects throughout the tour.
Audio handheld set at The Breakers
Guided Tours are available at Chateau-sur-Mer, Chepstow, Hunter House, Kingscote and Isaac Bell House.

Chateau-sur-Mer
The Elms Servant Life Tour and Beneath the Breakers Tour are also offered.

Non-flash photography is allowed throughout the properties, and visitors must not touch any objects.

Strollers are not permitted, so if you have a tiny one, a carrier is the best option to use when touring one of the mansions. The mansions are within walking distance from each other, but we drove to each property (parking lots available at each mansion we visited).

I truly enjoyed exploring the grandiose homes, as well learning about Newport's history. The kids had fun too. The audio tours really helped in keeping things interesting for them, and they were surprised with just how enormous the homes were, and how things (like the toilet!), looked back then.

Whether you visit a single mansion or five, it will be hard not to walk away without a feeling of awe (and maybe a little envy!).

To learn more about the Newport Mansions, click here.


Mahalo to the Newport Mansions for our tickets.

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