Where We Be
We toured two Gilded Age mansions in Newport,
The Breakers and Marble House. Both were
Vanderbilt owned and are two of the most over-
the-top “cottages” in Newport. They're really
more like European palaces than cottages. The
self-guided audio tours were entertaining --
Robin particularly enjoyed the kids’ version of
the tour offered at The Breakers in which the
house spoke of itself as the biggest and grand-
est in Newport. We took our time and spent
about four hours touring these two homes.
We also did the popular Cliff Walk. For 3½ miles,
this seaside walk provides sweeping views of
the Atlantic Ocean on one side and Gilded Age
mansions on the other. We started at Easton’s
Beach and wended our way south on a cool and
windy day in March. Afterwards we drove along
Ocean Drive, with lots of gorgeous homes on
the ocean -- some of them almost castles. The
sun was setting over the water as we followed
the ocean route. Almost equally enjoyable, we
thought, was the drive back along Bellevue
Avenue, where the most famous mansions are.
|The "cottages" in Newport are really American palaces in a European style. The
most famous is The Breakers, an Italian Renaissance-style palazzo built in 1895.
|We parked along Easton's Beach (shown above). In
this photo we're looking back at our starting point.
|This map shows the Cliff Walk route, which is 3½ miles one-way.
It also shows Belleveue Avenue where most of the mansions are.
|This is the start of the hike. We walked it on the last day of March, when it was
cool and windy, but not a bad day for a brisk walk along the Atlantic Ocean.
|Straight off we passed large mansions on one
side and Atlantic coastal scenery on the other
|The path winds its way along the coast
so you're never far from a pleasant view
|This is Ochre Court, the first really big mansion you come to.
It's the second largest mansion in Newport after The Breakers.
|Yellow daffodils herald the arrival of spring near Vinland Estate
|We liked the look of Vinland Estate
with its red sandstone exterior
|Marble House (1892) was the first really big mansion built in Newport, and it sparked the "building boom" of similar mansions
like The Breakers. Both homes were owned by Vanderbilt brothers and were built by the architect Richard Morris Hunt.
|Marble House was the height of opulence when
it was built -- at least as far as American homes go
|Marble House really does have lots of marble -- starting with Stair Hall,
a two-story room featuring walls and staircase of yellow Siena marble
|The Gothic Room was our favorite room in the house. It feels like an incredibly
rich library -- but with stained glass windows and an enormous fireplace.
|The Gold Salon is wonderfully over-the-top and regal feeling. It's not too surprising
that rooms in Marble House were used in the 1974 film "The Great Gatsby."
|The Great Hall makes a decent first impression,
if you're into luxury and splendor and all that
|Look up from the Grand Staircase and you'll see this lovely skylight
|As you can see, the rooms are sumptuous -- and they let
you take pictures with a smartphone or basic camera
|We particularly enjoyed the lavish Music Room --
this is just one corner of the enormous room
|Robin stands at one end of the Music Room where dances were held
|The audio tour provides many fascinating details about the house. For instance, this bathtub has four faucets -- two for fresh water
(hot and cold) and two for salt water (hot and cold). The salt water was pumped in from the ocean and kept in large cisterns.
|The Great Hall as seen from the balcony -- the Vanderbilt
kids would slide down the Grand Staircase on trays!
|It took us about four hours to tour just The Breakers and Marble House.
Both offer great self-guided audio tours (included in the ticket price).
|We walked as far as The Breakers along the Cliff Walk, then popped inside for a look around.
We bought two tickets good for touring five homes total but only saw two mansions this trip.
The tickets cost $33 each but never expire, so you can use them again on future visits.
|Another part of the same elegant room
|When the Vanderbilts had dinner in the Dining Room,
many footmen would have helped serve the dinner
|This was Alva Vanderbilt deluxe bedroom. She spent the first half of her life
indulging in unbelievable luxury and the second half fighting for women's rights.