Tuesday, July 31, 2012
"Beechwood" cottage was built for millionaire Daniel Parrish by Calvert Vaux in 1851 and was used as a summer retreat by Parrish and his family. In 1881, millionaire William B. Astor Jr., of the prominent Astor family, bought the cottage for $100,000 and gave it to his wife, Caroline Schermerhorn Astor, also known as "The Mrs. Astor", who was considered the queen of New York City society. Mrs. Astor called in architect Richard Morris Hunt to perform a $2 million renovation, which included the addition of a ballroom and a servant's wing. Mrs. Astor continued to reign there until her death in 1908. "Beechwood" passed to her son John, who was the richest man on the Titanic and perished when it sank. In 2010 it was purchased by billionaire Lawrence Ellison, who plans on turning it into a museum and saving another one of Newport's historic cottages.
Friday, July 20, 2012
"Castlewood" was built for the fabulously wealthy widow of Emile Bruguiere, Josephine Sather Bruguiere, as a Newport residence for her and her young son, Louis. Besides living at "Castlewood", Josephine and Louis divided their time between a large suite of rooms at Sherry's Hotel and an apartment in Paris. Tragically while returning to the United States, the ship that the Bruguieres were on, The Arabic, was torpedoed and sank. Josephine died in the sinking, but Louis survived. "Castlewood" was left to Louis, but it had been taken the year before by the bank. The house then went through a series of owners and for many years it was the Mercy Home orphanage. It was finally demolished and the land subdivided for development.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Above is a photograph of the great hall in the Goelet's Newport residence "Ochre Court", designed by Richard Morris Hunt. "Ochre Court" is now maintained by the Salve Regina University. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.
"Ochre Court" is the second largest home in Newport, second only to the Vanderbilt cottage "The Breakers". It was built by famed architect Richard Morris Hunt for millionaire Ogden Goelet and his family, at a cost of $4.5 million. The main house includes a great hall, drawing room, library, dining room, billiard room, ballroom, over 26 bedrooms and over 16 servant's rooms. On Ogden's death it passed to his son Robert, who in 1947 donated it to the Salve Regina University, who continue to maintain it brilliantly. I will soon be posting on my other blog, The Gilded Age Era, more on this house including interior photos and floor plans.
"The Rocks" was a large cottage on one of the best lots in Newport, on a large hill overlooking the famed Spouting Rock. It was built by John Hubbard Sturgis for Edward Boit and his wife Maria. It was later bought by millionaire Henry Clews, who retired there with his wife Lucy. Lucy loved spending money on fancy clothes from Paris and lavish jewels from Tiffany & Co. and it was often said that Henry's knack for making money nearly kept pace with her determination to spend it. On Henry's death the house passed to Lucy. Lucy continued to use "The Rocks" as her summer residence and shared it with her son Henry Jr. and his family, along with her daughter Elsie and her family. Later on, after Lucy's death, the home burned down and the land was bought by the Cushing family who merged it with their adjoining property and cottage "The Ledges".
When Grace Wilson Vanderbilt was not entertaining at the massive Vanderbilt palace at 640 Fifth Avenue or replenishing her wardrobe in Paris, she was summering at her cottage in Newport, RI, "Beaulieu". The Vanderbilts had purchased the property in 1911 and before that had rented it for $25,000 seasonally. The main house included 16 bedrooms, a library, billiard room, drawing room, dining room, wide surrounding veranda and rooms for 15 servants. Grace's most famous party the "Fete des Roses" was held here. For it a miniature theatre had be set up on the lawn for the Broadway show "Red Rose Inn", which had been brought all the way from New York City. The party was said to have cost $265,000. Grace continued to live here until her death in 1953 at the age of 82, after which it was sold to its present day owners.
"Beaulieu" is another of Newport's oldest cottages. Built between 1856 and 1859 by Calvert Vaux and A.J. Downing for Peruvian merchant Frederico Barreda. It was purchased by William Waldorf Astor for around $300,000. The Astor commissioned extensive renovations on the house and the property. "Beaulieu" used to be right next door to "Beechwood", the cottage of William's aunt Caroline Astor, until Alva Belmont built her cottage "Marble House" on the lot between them. It was later on leased to General Cornelius Vanderbilt III and his wife Grace Wilson (of the marrying Wilsons) for $25,000 seasonally. The Vanderbilts later purchased the house for only $100,000 and commenced renovations. After Garce's death in 1953 at the age of 82, the home was put on the market. Today it is owned by Wiley T. Buchanan Jr. and his wife Ruth Wheeler (heiress to the Dow Chemical Company fortune).
"The Ledges" is one of the oldest homes in Newport. It was built in 1867 by architect John Hubbard Sturgis for the Boston millionaire Robert M. Cushing. Cushing was a member of the prominent Boston family, made rich from the China Trade, and an incorporator to the newport Casino and the adjacent Bailey's Beach. On Robert's death it passed to his son, the artist Howard Gardiner Cushing, who continued to live there until his death. Today it is owned by Howard and Nora Cushing, descendants of Robert.
Above are pictures of two of my favorite cottages in Newport, "Crossways" owned by the Fish family and "The Rocks" owned by the Clews family. I recently did a post about "Crossways" on my other blog, The Gilded Age Era, which included floor plans and interior photos. I am still trying to gather information and photographs for "The Rocks" but so far I have only been able to find exterior photos. "Crossways" is still standing and is now a condominium, "The Rocks" unfortunately has been demolished.
Above is a picture of the baronial dining room at "Marble House", the Alva Belmont cottage in Newport RI. This magnificent room was inspired by the Salon d'Hercule at Versailles and was designed by Jules Allard. It is equal in size to that of the ballroom across the hall. "Marble House" is now owned by the Preservation Society of Newport County. Photo courtesy of Roger Green.
Newport is famous primarily for it's large gilded age mansions, also know as White Elephants. Above is an ariel view of a few of it's cottages. From left to right: "Rough Point" the Duke cottage, "Rock Cliff" the Ames cottage, "Ocean View" the Mills cottage and "Miramar" the Widener cottage.