The Queen Mary 2 arrived in New York City around 6 am. A ship is a great way to travel. We gained an hour almost every night so jet lag was not a problem.
The ship docked right downtown. We wheeled our bags about 7 blocks to a Hertz office to pick up a car. Rush hour in the city is a challenging way to get to know a car’s GPS system but we were soon on our way. After visiting chateaux in France we wanted to take a look at how wealthy Americans adapted European ideas to build their “summer cottages” in Newport, Rhode Island. We visited 5 Newport Mansions.
Some cottage! The Breakers was built in 1895 by Cornelius Vanderbilt II. I think this was the largest house we saw (70 rooms) and it’s over the top inside – actually they are all over the top! It has a huge central hall and a magnificent dining room with gigantic chandeliers. Taking photos inside the mansions was not allowed but if you’re interested you can Google them to see lots of pics – inside and out on sunnier days!
Marble House was built in 1892 by William K. Vanderbilt. This one has a pagoda in the back yard.
Rosecliff was built in 1902 by Theresa Oelrichs, whose father discovered the Comstock Silver Lode in NV. “The Great Gatsby” was filmed here in 1974. It has a ballroom 80 feet long with French doors along both sides.
Here’s a back yard view of the neighbors!
Chateau-sur-Mer was the oldest house we visited, built in 1852 by William S. Wetmore who made his fortune in trade with China. His son enlarged and remodeled it in 1872. It’s typically Victorian and dark inside, especially on the gray day we were there!
This yard had the most magnificent trees! And a Chinese Moon Gate.
Last but in no way least – this one may have been my favorite – The Elms. It was built in 1901 by Edward J. Berwind, a coal industry tycoon. It has a large, lovely conservatory besides the obligatory massive ballroom. It also had very pretty grounds.
The heyday of these summer homes lasted only about 30 years. We were told the owners could expect to spend, in today’s dollars, over 4 million dollars each to entertain friends and family at lavish dinners and balls over the 12 week summer season. It isn’t any wonder this lifestyle was short lived. Many Newport mansions were close to being bulldozed before being rescued by or donated to the Preservation Society of Newport County.
The town of Newport is worth a visit too. There are lots of restored colonial homes and an historic shopping district.
We took a drive along picturesque Ocean Ave.
The Pell Bridge reminded us of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.
And that brings us to the end of a wonderful trip.
I hope you’ve enjoyed it too.
I’ll add pictures from past trips to this blog over the summer.