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Newport Rhode Island Mansions Tour

Updated on February 25, 2011

Discover the Historic Gilded Age Newport Rhode Island Mansions

The Newport Mansions are the top tourist destination in the state of Rhode Island. The Breakers alone receives over 300,000 visits per year. Upon entering the city, you'll be shocked by the sheer beauty of the rugged, cliff lined coastline of Newport. High atop the cliffs, you can find the famed public access Cliff Walk, and the Guilded Age mansions of Bellevue Ave that have made the city so famous. Today, many of the mansions are available for touring. Each property has its own unique views, historical antiquities, and personal charm. Read all about these "summer cottages" to the rich, like Rosecliff, The Elms, and Marble House on this page, illustrated with beautiful photosof the properties.

The Breakers

The Breakers is one of the Vanderbilt mansions of Newport. It is located on Ochre Point Avenue, part of the Bellevue Avenue Historic District. It is regarded by many as the most opulent of all of the mansions. Construction of the home began in 1893 by Cornelius Vanderbilt II, who used The Breakers as merely his summer home. Cornelius spent $7 million dollars on construction, a bargain in today's standards, but with inflation, that number equates to around $150 million. The fine details and quality materials that make up the mansion could not likely be reproduced today.

The mansion contains pieces imported from Africa, Italy, and France, such as marble, mantel pieces, and other details. The Breakers was passed down from Cornelius Vanderbilt II, who suffered a cerebral hemorrhage, to his wife Alice Gwynne Vanderbilt. She passed the property onto her daughter Gladys. Countess Sylvia Szapary then sold the property to the Newport Preservation Society in 1972, with the stipulation that the family could still live on the closed-to-the-public third floor (and still to this day!). The Breakers is now the top tourist destination in Newport and the entire state of Rhode Island.

>>>Learn more about The Breakers

Marble House

With construction beginning on Marble House in 1888, this beautiful stone mansion was the first of many more to come along Bellevue Ave. The home was built by William Kissam Vanderbilt, part of the wealthy railroad tycoons of the 1800's, the Vanderbilt family. The home was given by Mr. Vanderbilt to his wife as a 39th birthday present. Outside, the home can be seen with its magnificent, towering stone columns.

>>>Learn more about Marble House on Yelp reviews

Everything You Wanted to Know About Rhode Island - Learn the history, the best spots, and the best eats in RI!

Where are the best places to eat? What are the best places to see? Who lived in the old mansions? Get the answer to all of these questions and many more with this comprehensive guide to Rhode Island, which includes just about everything you ever wanted to know about the Ocean State.

Rhode Island 101: Everything You Wanted to Know About Rhode Island and Were Going to Ask Anyway (101 Book Series)
Rhode Island 101: Everything You Wanted to Know About Rhode Island and Were Going to Ask Anyway (101 Book Series)

From Narragansett Bay, Roger Williams, the American Industrial Revolution and the Independent Man to the New England mob, the Big Blue Bug, the Newport Mansions, Family Guy and profiles of Buddy Cianci, H.P. Lovecraft and the Farrelly brothers, no book provides a more insightful lowdown on the Ocean State than Rhode Island 101. No book is more fun! From fabulous beaches, historic cities, and dynamite cuisine to corrupt politicians, elite universities and a unique accent and slang, it's all here.

 

Chatea Sur Mer

Chatreau Sur Mer was built by William Shepard Wetmore in 1852. The home predated most of the other Newport mansions of Bellevue Ave. Today, it is open to the public as a museum, owned by the Newport Preservation Society. Unlike many of the other mansions of Newport, this home was built as a full time residence, not a summer home.

>>>Learn more about Chateau Sur Mer

The Elms

Once upon a time, the Elms was almost demolished to make room for a new property. Thankfully, the Newport Preservation Society purchased this historic landmark and spared the building from certain ruin. It was built in 1899 by the Berwind family, modeled after the Château d'Asnières in France. The property sits directly on the cliffs of Newport, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The exterior was once beautifully landscaped with Elms, which have succumbed to Dutch Elm Disease. In their place are weeping beech trees today.

>>>Learn more about The Elms here

Rosecliff

On the inside of Rosecliff, you may recognize its stunning ballroom from the movie True Lies. The exterior is one of the most remarkable mansions for its lush, green landscaping and pure white Ionic pilasters. The home was modeled after the Grand Trianon of Versailles. The home was used mainly as a place to host grand events during Newport's Gilded Age. Theresa Fair Oelrichs initially built the mansion in 1891. The backyard grounds have an exceptional view of the Atlantic Ocean and Newport coastline, stretching all the way to Tiverton.

>>> Learn more about Rosecliff here.

A Guide to Newport's Cliff Walk - About the mansions, views, and history

What was it like to live in the era when the mansions were all running at their peak, occupied and serving as part of the Newport society? This book goes over the history of the mansions and the era, along with the famed Cliff Walk which runs oceanside in front of all of the mansions of Bellevue Ave.

A Guide to Newport's Cliff Walk: Tales of Seaside Mansions & the Gilded Age Elite
A Guide to Newport's Cliff Walk: Tales of Seaside Mansions & the Gilded Age Elite

Where the salty air mingles with the far-off laughter of women in ball gowns, the houses of Newport's Cliff Walk preside in grandeur over the crashing waves below. Walking along the gravel trail, it's easy to imagine the faintest hint of a waltz coming from the windows of Beechwood, or to envision the Duchess of Windsor's carriage arriving for a visit at Fairholme. Ed Morris takes you on a tour of twenty-four historic mansions and landmarks, entertaining along the way with tales of splendor and style, social maneuvering and matchmaking.

 

This mansion is still in private hands, and was put on the real estate market by the Tinney family in 2009.

Learn more about Belcourt Castle here.

Which Newport Mansion is Your Favorite? - Vote for your favorite mansion below!

It's okay to play favorites. These are some of the most beautiful homes in the country, and they were built to look beautiful. Some are more beautiful on the inside, some are more extravagant on the outside. Of the properties owned by the Newport Preservation Society, which one did you enjoy visiting the most?

Which mansion did you enjoy visiting the most?

See results

Newport Mansion Links - Find more information about the properties here:

Find more historical information and tourist sites about the mansions here:

Learn More About Newport - Guilded Age books worth reading

Recommended Books About Rhode Island - Explore more of the stunning coast of Rhode Island

Explorer's Guide Rhode Island (Fifth Edition)  (Explorer's Complete)
Explorer's Guide Rhode Island (Fifth Edition) (Explorer's Complete)

Find everything there is to do in Rhode Island with this recommended guide!

 
Rhode Island: Photographs by Richard Benjamin (Regional Photos)
Rhode Island: Photographs by Richard Benjamin (Regional Photos)

Stunning photos of Rhode Island's coast, small towns, and historical landmarks.

 
Weekend Walks in Rhode Island: 40 Trails for Hiking, Birding & Nature Viewing, Fourth Edition
Weekend Walks in Rhode Island: 40 Trails for Hiking, Birding & Nature Viewing, Fourth Edition

40 unbelievable walks in the state of Rhode Island, know for their hiking, birding, and nature viewing opportunities.

 
The Providence and Rhode Island Cookbook: Big Recipes from the Smallest State
The Providence and Rhode Island Cookbook: Big Recipes from the Smallest State

Cooking done Rhode Island style, with incredible recipes and meal ideas.

 

Tell us about your journey to the mansions, your favorite home, and what you think of these historical landmarks here! Thanks for stopping by!

What Do You Think of the Newport Mansions? - Which is your favorite? Have you been here?

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    • Kiwisoutback profile image
      Author

      Kiwisoutback 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      @Squidpunk: That's true, you can see the backside of most of the mansions. What you can't see is the inside though. Also, the Cliffwalk has had some damage from the winter storms of 2013, so part of it is closed. It's still worth walking to.

    • Squidpunk profile image

      Squidpunk 4 years ago

      The Cliff Walk is the best deal in Newport - it's free and you can see most of the mansions.

      Newport is one of the most historical cities in America - great for history buffs...

    • OrlandoTipster profile image

      OrlandoTipster 5 years ago

      What I would give to live in one these mansions

    • iijuan12 profile image

      iijuan12 5 years ago from Florida

      Great lens! I just finished creating a lens giving an overview of RI and came across your lens. You've done a nice job!

    • angelsigh profile image

      angelsigh 5 years ago

      fascinating lens, thank you

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 5 years ago from Southampton, UK

      I had never heard of these before, but if you like architecture and grand homes, this is a great destination for a vacation. Maybe we will get there one day. Nicely done, blessed.

    • artbyrodriguez profile image

      Beverly Rodriguez 5 years ago from Albany New York

      I've been to a few, but I want to go back! Very nice lens.

    • Countryluthier profile image

      E L Seaton 6 years ago from Virginia

      Nicely done lenses. Attending several schools in Newport RI many years ago afforded myself and the children an opportunity to tour several of these incredible homes. Thanks for a trip back down memory lane!

    • phoenix arizona f profile image

      phoenix arizona f 6 years ago

      I liked Rosecliff, very nice!

    • EdTecher profile image

      Heidi Reina 6 years ago from USA

      I have enjoyed the cliff walk, but now you've tempted me to tour a few of the Newport mansions. Blessed by a Squid Angel ~

    • profile image

      jillian22 6 years ago

      I enjoy seeing them often - so magnificent!

    • BuildABetterMouse profile image

      Steve and Annette 6 years ago

      I've only been to the Breakers and we certainly enjoyed that. Our favorite part was the little shell niches and fountain under the stairs.

    • ZenandChic profile image

      Patricia 6 years ago

      Very nice mansions!

    • RuthCoffee profile image

      RuthCoffee 7 years ago

      Impressive indeed. I've never been there but it looks like an interesting tour.

    • profile image

      resabi 7 years ago

      I've never been to Newport, but your lens makes me want to go. Beautifully done. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks for the tour. Blessed by a SquidAngel

    • profile image

      RebeccaE 7 years ago

      this was an awesome lens, I did some tourist things in teh area, and did stop to look into a few of these manisons. Awesome experience... one day I'll afford one of them =)

    • HorseAndPony LM profile image

      HorseAndPony LM 7 years ago

      I have attempted to visit the Newport Mansions. However, we got carried away with the Cliff Walk. We decided to go over the cliff and explore below. Thanks for sharing all this great info.

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 7 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      These look beautiful. Our cruise ship will be stopping in Newport this fall...this gave me a nice preview of things to see. blessed.