Posted by: yachtcrewsing | August 23, 2011

The Majestic Mansions of Newport

Entering the main hall of the Breakers, a Newport mansion towering over the cliff walk, I focused on trying to untangle the headset guide as I tripped up the elaborate marble entrance steps. Only after victoriously thrusting the headphones over my ears did I have a chance to look up and ahead. I found myself, speechless, in a grandly towering room of marble columns, elaborately carved cornices and a sweeping view of the grounds and sea framed by enormous glass doors. To the side, but no less commanding of one’s attention, was a grandly sweeping staircase. The red carpet covering the marble and slight raise of the steps immediately invoked the image of society ladies elegantly gliding downwards towards gala guests.

The Breakers is one of Newport’s most famed attractions, and certainly the most popular of all the historic mansions in the regions. It was completed at huge costs in 1895, and was inhabited by the Vanderbilt family until the 1970s when it was taken over by the Preservation Society of Newport. The immense wealth and cultural influences apparent within the mansion make it a worthwhile tour in itself. The Italian-inspired architecture, the delicately carved fountain hidden in the recesses of the grand staircase, the platinum-gilded panels and separate lady of the house’s office for planning parties and accepting callers all invoke the history of Newport as the social center of the wealthy world in the 19th to mid- 20th centuries.

 

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