FX Excursions

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Top 5: Mansions to Visit in Newport, R.I.

by Edward Mack

Apr 13, 2015

Rosecliff, a Gilded Age Mansion of Newport, Rhode Island © Demerzel21 | Dreamstime

North America

Nobody knew how to do extravagant and opulent like Newport, R.I., during the turn of the 20th century. The tiny town attracted America’s wealthiest during the Gilded Age, from the Vanderbilts to the Astors. All five of these “cottages” are on the National Register of Historic Places. A great way to see them all and experience the grandeur of Newport is to take the Cliff Walk.


The Marble House, a Gilded Age Mansion of Newport, Rhode Island © Demerzel21 | Dreamstime 50460974

The Marble House © Demerzel21 | Dreamstime


Marble House 

William Vanderbilt’s summer cottage is one of America’s great lasting tributes to the Industrial Revolution and the incredible disparity of wealth it produced. True to its name, Marble House contains 500,000 square feet of marble. It cost $11 million to build in the late 1880s.



Silver heiress Theresa Fair Oelrichs is the power behind this opulent throne. Rosecliff hosted some of the early 1900s most outrageous parties, at which Harry Houdini famously performed. Rosecliff has been used as the setting for various films, including — appropriately — The Great Gatsby.


Breakers Mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, designed by Cornelius Vanderbilt of the Gilded Age © Demerzel21 | Dreamstime 50460764

Breakers Mansion © Demerzel21 | Dreamstime


The Breakers

Because one super-mansion summer house per family isn’t enough, William’s brother, Cornelius II, built the Marble House down the street. The 70-room mansion is palatial, designed in an Italian Renaissance-style palazzo.


The Elms

Coal baron Edward Julius Berwind wanted his mansion designed after the French chateau d’Asnieres. About $1.4 million dollars later, wish granted. Just as impressive as the building is Berwind’s collection of ceramics, paintings, jades and Classical Revival gardens.


Chateau-sur-Mer, first of the Gilded Age Mansions on Bellevue Avenue in Newport, Rhode Island © Demerzel21 | Dreamstime 50460959

Chateau-sur-Mer © Demerzel21 | Dreamstime



One of the original Newport mansions, Chateau-sur-Mer pre-dates the Vanderbilts’ arrival by nearly 40 years. It is built in a High Victorian style with matching furnishings, which were redone in an Empire French style during the second half of the 19th century.



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