Newport is known as the “Queen of Summer Resorts” in New England and home to some of our country’s most beautiful historic mansions. We had the opportunity to tour several of these sprawling summer estates on a recent trip and experience all that Newport has to offer. Shown above is Edith Warton’s summer cottage “Land’s End” where she pinned her book “The Decoration of Houses” with Ogden Codman.
This rose trellis below is from the house next door to “Land’s End,” which was originally the gardener’s cottage. We had a lovely tour of the private garden which is owned by Mrs. Oatsie Charles, one of Newport’s beloved “Grand Dames.”
One of our first stops was a tour of The Marble House, home to Mr. and Mrs. William K. Vanderbilt and built between 1888 and 1892. This dazzling home, comprised of over 500,000 cubic feet of cool marble, was designed by architect, Richard Morris Hunt, and overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. The house and gardens were beautiful.
The Vanderbilts were so pleased with the work of Richard Morris Hunt, that they had his portrait carved in bas-relief on the marble wall of the upper hall. We laugh thinking what our clients might think of the idea of having our portraits in their homes! Keep scrolling to see a few images from inside.Source Source Source
The photo below is of the Chinese Tea House, which is located on the edge of the estate and was the location of many events given by the late Alva Vanderbilt. Wouldn’t you love to have been on one of those guest lists?Source
We felt very fortunate to have a private tour of “Berkeley House,” which has a graceful flowing landscape.
This house was originally designed by the firm of McKim, Mead and White, and has recently been loving brought to life by the Ross family. The gorgeous grand oak-paneled walls that adorn the entry, Dutch door and stairwell had been painted white by a previous owner. Returning them to their original glory was no small task! According to the book Living Newport, Mrs. Ross’s friend told her to have “more courage” while decorating her house, so she choose this tiger-striped carpet banded in red for her stairway. We should all remember to have “more courage” when making interior selections! You can see how she followed this advice throughout the house with bold color choices.
We went on a fabulous tour of “Rough Point,” a 105-room mansion and the former home of Doris Duke—heiress, philanthropist and art collector. Her oceanfront estate is still decorated as she left it; filled with European art, French furniture, Chinese porcelains, and Turkish carpets collected from exotic locations around the world.
Doris loved animals. Apparently, when she was bargaining for the purchase of an airplane, two camels were included as part of the deal. The actual camels, spent many summers roaming the grounds, overlooking the water, and at one point were allowed inside, using the solarium as shelter when a storm threatened Newport. Today, the topiary camels are a reminder of Doris’ whimsical spirit.
Afterwards, we enjoyed a delightful lunch at Chanler on the Cliff Walk. The pleasant weather allowed us to sit outside on the private terrace to take in the extraordinary views.
Following lunch, we stopped by Ronald Lee Fleming’s, Bellevue House, built in 1910 and designed by the remarkable architect Ogden Codman. The photos below provide a glimpse inside this lovely home.
The marble floor in the foyer was stunning.
The creativity didn’t stop indoors—the grounds of this wonderful house are just as unique and beautiful, if not more! The twenty-by-twenty foot Teahouse, built on the property in 1922 offers beautiful transition into the gardens.
We enjoyed a leisurely stroll through the metal armatures, taking in the delicate scent of flowers and fresh air. The cupola below acts as a centerpiece to the gardens along with the Teahouse, pergola and bathing pavilions, which are all meant to be taken in the whimsical and quirky spirit that Ron Fleming intended. The surprise offered by each garden “folly” left us feeling both inspired and intrigued.
We attended the Newport Flower Show’s Opening Night Cocktail Party at Rosecliff on our final night. This white palace was modeled after the Grand Trianon at Versailles and was the perfect setting for such a festive event.
If you would like to see a more detailed glimpse inside some of these lovely homes, we recommend the book “Living Newport: Houses, People, Style” by Bettie Bearden Pardee. Bettie graciously hosted our group for cocktails in her fabulous home and gardens. Our signed copy of her book is a treasure from the trip and the perfect addition to our coffee table. We hope you enjoy the photos below of Bettie’s fabulous, immaculate garden.
“It (Newport) is home to friends who treasure the small, precious details that help polish the chafed edges of a long day, provide a retreat into a cheerful civility and prompt us to feel gratitude.”
–Bettie Bearden Pardee, Living Newport