Newport Journals

Newport - Gilt, Gold, and Greed

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An April 2006 trip to Newport by zabelle

Inn on Long Wharf Photo, Newport, Rhode Island More Photos
Quote: This period of American history is called The Gilded Age for a reason. It's all about greed.

Newport - Gilt, Gold, and Greed

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Overview

From our Timeshare Photo, Newport, Rhode Island
Quote:
Mark Twain is credited with giving the name ‘The Gilded Age" to the late 1880's. This was not meant as a compliment but rather a condemnation of what was a glittering exterior and a rotten interior. Shady deals and robber barons led to a whole class of excessively rich men who were looking for a new place to show off their wealth. Enter Newport Rhode Island. Here they built their massive mansions, each one more elaborate than its predecessor, each baron hoping to reach the pinnacle of wealth. Few found happiness, nearly all lost their massive wealth and some lost their wives and families as well. This is the story of the legacy that they left to Newport but even more so, it is the story of the regular...Read More

Inn on Long Wharf

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Hotel

Inn on Long Wharf Photo, Newport, Rhode Island
Quote:
Having purchased a week at the Fairfield Time Share on a discount site, I felt comfortable only using it for four nights since this made our average nightly rate around $50. There is no check in at The Inn. You have to go to the Marriott Resort which is located across the street. Once we had figured out where that was, I had to actually call them to find it, our check in was effortless. One of the benefits of staying here is that you get to have dinner at a discount- two for one -at the Marriott Hotel. We took advantage of this our first night.Parking is at a premium at this resort. It is a very small lot with a few spots under the building. In March this was not an issue but I can imagine...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 11, 2006

Inn on Long Wharf
142 Long Wharf
Newport, Rhode Island 02840
(401) 847-7800

Chateau-Sur-Mer

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Attraction | "Chateau Sur Mer"

Newport Historic Society Photo, Newport, Rhode Island
Quote:
This is that very rare creature, a mansion without a gift shop, I know, a shocking statement but true. If any of the houses could be said to feel like a cottage, Chateau Sur Mer has perhaps the most likeable atmosphere. This is a house where you can almost imagine yourself living. It has a warm and lived in feel that is very obviously missing in the other mansions. (Belcourt excluded.) This was not my first visit here but it was the first time I made the Wetmore connection. The Wetmore family can trace their hometown roots to my hometown. I knew that there was a street called Wetmore Place in Middletown but I never put two and two together until we were waiting for our tour to begin and I ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 11, 2006

Chateau-Sur-Mer
474 Bellevue Ave
Newport, Rhode Island 02840
+1 401 847 1000

Redwood Library and Athenaeum

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Attraction | "Redwood Library & Athenaeum"

Redwood Library and Athenaeum Photo, Newport, Rhode Island
Quote:
Guided tours of Redwood Library are offered Monday-Friday at 10:30am. We were guided by Elaine. She is an employee of the library and extremely knowledgeable. The tours are free but as you leave the library there is a box for donations and they are greatly appreciated. Designed by the first American architect, Peter Harrison at the behest of Abraham Redwood, The Redwood is the oldest lending library in continuous use in America. What I found amazing is that the exterior of the original library is made of wood. Peter Harrison is known for this style of splinter finish. It looks like stone from a distance and it was the first neoclassical building in America. Thomas Jefferson visited here and it i...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 11, 2006

Redwood Library and Athenaeum
50 Bellevue Ave
Newport, Rhode Island 02840
(401) 847-0292

Rosecliff

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Attraction

Rosecliff Photo, Newport, Rhode Island
Quote:
I have to admit that of all the Newport Mansions, Rosecliff is my favorite. The grand stair case is magnificent, certainly designed to impress. Modeled after the Grand Trianon at Versailles by architect Stanford White, this summer cottage took more than four years to build at a cost of $2.5 million. First I have to say that you visit the first floor of the house on a guided tour and our guide stunk. I have never seen a more bored and disinterested guide in my life. Luckily the rooms themselves are so outstanding that you can’t help but be awed. Tessie Oelrich was a first generation aristocrat. Her father James Graham Fair was an Irish immigrant who was a mining engineer. Her mo...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 11, 2006

Rosecliff
Bellevue Avenue
Newport, Rhode Island 02840
+1 401 847 1000

Green Animals Topiary Garden

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Attraction

Green Animals Topiary Garden Photo, Newport, Rhode Island
Quote:
Green Animals is a small county estate located on Narragansett Bay. Beyond all the amazing topiaries, it is a lovely location with wonderful views. Children of all ages will find it an amazing place to visit.In 1872 Thomas Brayton purchased the house and seven acres as a summer home. He hired Joseph Carreiro and began to plan and then execute the formal garden and most of the topiary. Joseph was a very imaginative and talented superintendent and passed his position to his son-in law George Mendonca. Between the two they served here for eighty years. Alice Brayton, Thomas’ daughter was a horticulturist in her own right and from 1940-1972 made her home here year-round.You begin y...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 11, 2006

Green Animals Topiary Garden
Corey's Lane
Newport, Rhode Island 02871
(401) 847-1000

Belcourt Castle

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Attraction | "Spirits of Belcourt Tour"

the interior Photo, Newport, Rhode Island
Quote:
There are several different tours that can be taken at Belcourt Castle. I had previously taken the very enjoyable Candlelight Tour and when I saw that the ‘Spirits of Belcourt" would be offered on Thursday evenings during April, guided by Mrs. Harle Tinney, I couldn’t pass up the chance to see the beautiful and interesting house again.Tours begin at 5pm and the doors open at 4:45. The tours are $15 per person and must be booked ahead. This can be done on their website or on the phone. You can pay when you arrive. There were only about 10 of us at first when Mrs. Tinney introduced herself and led us into the dining room, we were however soon joined by a whole bus load of young people. We we...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 11, 2006

Belcourt Castle
657 Bellevue Ave
Newport, Rhode Island 02840
(401) 846-0669

Elms

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Attraction | "The Elms Behind the Scenes Tour"

Elms Photo, Newport, Rhode Island
Quote:
If you can only take one tour while you are in Newport, make it this one. This is the only one that will take you where the family would never have gone, through the world of the servants. This is a very popular tour and you will need a reservation to take it. Even in April we had to wait so I suggest that you come here first and sign up for one of the tours. You can then either take the self guides tour of the house or go to one of the other houses.The tour begins outside in front of the house. We then walk around to the side and enter the house as the servants would have. We learn that the house was named for the elm trees that used to fill the yard. Dutch Elm diseases took care of that ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 11, 2006

Elms
Bellevue Avenue
Newport, Rhode Island 02840
(401) 847-1000

Elms

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Attraction | "The Elms"

Elms Photo, Newport, Rhode Island
Quote:
The Elms was the most modern of the Newport Mansion, it was one of the first all electric houses in Newport. It was designed by Horace Trumbauer for coal baron Edward Berwind. It is a copy of the chateau d’Asnieres in France. It cost 1.2 million to build. It was the Brewind coal that fueled the Vanderbilt trains and ships.Inside the mansion you see the work of the designer Jules Allard. The house is visited on a headphone tour. There is a basic tour and then if you want more details they are also available. One of the first extra tours has to deal with some Sevres china in an orange Turkish pattern. The conservatory is beautiful, with a white marble floor and is the most casual...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 11, 2006

Elms
Bellevue Avenue
Newport, Rhode Island 02840
(401) 847-1000

Breakers

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Attraction | "The Breakers"

Breakers Photo, Newport, Rhode Island
Quote:
Designed by Richard Morris Hunt for Cornelius Vanderbilt II The Breakers is the apex of the Gilded Age in Newport. 138,000 square feet of opulence, designed in the Italianate style of Palladio. The house is built around an interior courtyard which being New England is enclosed. The ceiling has a cloud mural to give the impression of being outside.The house must be visited on a tour. Our tour had 32 people which is, I believe, the maximum allowed. Tours are held on the hour and you can sit through a 30 minute video on the homes owned by the Newport County Preservation Society while you wait. Our tour lasted approx 50 minutes. We were on the 1pm tour. Our docent Donato met us in the Grand Ha...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 11, 2006

Breakers
Ochre Point Avenue
Newport, Rhode Island 02840
(401) 847-1000

Marble House-424 Bellevue Ave

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Story/Tip

Chinese Teahouse Photo, Newport, Rhode Island
Quote:
If any of the mansions epitomizes the Gilded Age of Newport’s wealth, it is Marble House. Designed by Richard Morris Hunt for William and Alva Vanderbilt, this cottage is modeled after the Petit Trianon at Versailles. This house is visited with a self guided headphone tour. There are numbered plaques in the rooms, you can hear just the basic numbers or if you want to know more there are additional items you can listen to. The 50 room "cottage" took three years to build at a cost of $11,000,000. They used 500 cubic feet of marble in the construction. Marble was shipped into Newport from Europe and housed in special sheds. The building was the talk of Newport and fences had to be built to ke...Read More