The mansions of Newport Rhode Island – the luxurious summer retreats of the super rich of the ‘Gilded Age’ and quaintly referred to as ‘cottages’. Amazingly, many of these summer houses were only lived in for six to eight weeks a year.
A quick recap, the ‘Gilded Age’ was a term coined by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner in the late 19th century, satirising the greed and corruption of the governing class and the dazzling wealth accumulated by the likes of the Vanderbilts, Rockefellers and Carnegies.
As we are looking for a new house with a sea-view we thought it would be a good idea to tour the Vanderbilt mansion known as ‘The Breakers’. If we liked it, we would make them an offer and move in before Christmas. Although our budget may not quite stretch to the 7 million dollars it cost in 1893 which is equivalent to 150 million dollars today. Also, we’ve just bought a doubtful Leonardo da Vinci painting for $450m to hang in our bathroom.
The Breakers was originally commissioned by Cornelius Vanderbilt II, the grandson of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt who made his fortune from shipping and the New York Central Railroad.
The Mansion Tour
We took the main audio tour which leads you through the mansion’s rooms at a comfortable pace. It was very well done, although I don’t know what Mrs W was listening to for the first 5 minutes as she had pressed a couple of the wrong buttons on the audio player. Generally, they are quite easy to operate.
There are a number of points on the tour where you can find out more about specific family members and staff who occupied the house by listening to optional extras within the audio tour.
There is an audio tour for families which is aimed at parents and kids to enjoy together, it is narrated by a number of house characters.
Also, there is a free app available to download which includes audio, photos, floor plans and other features.
We really enjoyed our visit to The Breakers and we would definitely recommend a visit if you are touring Newport, Rhode Island. We spent a good two hours touring the mansion and also visited The Marble House later in the day.
The Marble House was also designed by Richard Morris Hunt for William K. Vanderbilt, the younger brother of the Cornelius II.
Useful Newport Masion Info
44 Ochre Point Avenue
Newport, RI 02840
Open daily from 9 am except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day
Admission price at time of visit,
$24 for just The Breakers
$29 for The Breakers plus one other house (we did The Marble House – highly recommended.)
There is free parking at the properties except for the Hunter House
You are allowed to take photographs without flash and videos but tripods and dreaded selfie sticks are not allowed.