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March 16, 2005
Marble House is modeled on the Petit Trianon with a healthy dose of good old American gaudiness thrown in). But the Petit Trianon doesn't have a downstairs covered entirely in guilding and imported marble.
The grand entry hall is golden marble from floor to ceiling; the dining room is red marble, with gilded bronze chairs that required a footman to move them, and a gargantuan table.
The Gold Room, elaborately carved and gilded and hung with green silk velvet hangings, was the site of many sumptuous balls and receptions. The adjoining Gothic room, built to house Alva's collection of Medieval art, is sombre, with stained glass and gray stone tracery.
The family rooms are no less richly decorated. The forceful Alva's room is improbably swathed in lavender silk.
The bedroom of Alva's daughter, Consuelo, was hung with deep red damask and furnished with heavy Elizabethan furniture, for everything had been chosen to suit Alva, rather than her daughter. "Often, as I lay on my bed," Consuelo wrote in her autobiography, "I reflected that... it was [Alva's] wish to produce me as a finished framed in a perfect setting, and that my person was dedicated to whatever final disposal she had in mind."
If you want to see this monument to one woman's driving ambition, admission to Marble House is $10 for adults, $4 for kids. In the summer, you can get one of a variety of combo passes that allow you to see five mansions for $31 adult, $10 kids; in the winter you can see Marble House, The Breakers, and The Elms for $25.
From journal Newport, Rhode Island
New York, New York
November 21, 2000
From journal Newport Mansions