The old world in Newport

The Breakers, the summer estate of industrialist Cornelius Vanderbilt II, was thelargest & most opulent house in the Newport area when it was completed in 1895.

It’s better late than never. I’ve been hearing about the mansion of the Vanderbilts since the Glora Vanderbilt jeans became a hot trend decades ago. It was the hot buzz back then. The neon-printed souvenir white shirts screaming Newport in large font showed “I’ve been there.” Really? I didn’t notice. It could have been a pasalubong but whatever it is, it made us, the travel-impaired (at that moment), envious.

The balcony of the Breakers with the view of the sea.

I made it to Boston a) to see a good friend, and b) to see the place. But Cris, being the most gracious host, took time off work to show me around the place he nosw calls home plus the neighboring towns. How in the world would I know he penned Salem, Rockport and so many other places on his list of place he wanted me to see? I am grateful.

Newport was next on the list. The neon printed shirts popped in mind but not the Vanderbilt mansion nor the jeans. Not until Cris mentioned the Breakers that memories of Gloria and the music of Studio 54 came flooding back in. Now, I get to see it and many more of its kind.
One of America’s great Victorian Houses, Chateau-sur-Mer is the first of thegrand Bellevue Avenue mansions of the Gilded Age mansions in Newport

The seaside city of Newport in Rhode Island is a popular summer destination. It is where the highest concentration of preserved colonial buildings can be found of any US city, the Newport Mansions being the most popular. 

Newport is where anyone can walk through America’s past in an afternoon. The Preservation Society of Newport County which lists and fourteen historic properties and landscapes of the Gilded Age under its care—seven of which are National Historic Landmarks, and eleven of which are open to the public. The non-profit organization raises that “each house is an authentic icon of one of the greatest eras of American history. Hunter House was present when the Battle of Bunker Hill was fought, the Chateau-sur-Mer saw the legal age of global commerce by American clipper ships like Flying Cloud, and the Breakers opened as the Vanderbilts’ latest achievement in the era in which railroads revolutionized the nation much the way jet-liners and the internet would a century later.”

Newport’s great party house. Silver heiressTheresa Fair Oelrichs’Rosecliff Mansion was built to entertain on a grand scale.

So I finally was able to tour the very European-inspired 70-room summer estate of industrialist Cornelius Vanderbilt II (that doesn’t allow photography boo-hoo), the largest (imagine a two and a half story high Great Hall in it) and most opulent house (imagine a Morning Room adorned with platinum leaf wall panels, and other interior features of rare marble, alabaster and gilded wood throughout) in the Newport area when it was completed in 1895. It may have raised eyebrows back then, but like they say, if you have it, why not flaunt it?

The driveway to the main entrance of the Breaker.

Time is what I lacked on this visit to Newport. It was a drive-through visit for the rest of the estates- the Hunter House, Chateau-sur-Mer, the Elms, Rosecliff, the Marble House,Kingcote, Isaac Bell House and the Chepstow.

It was a nice short visit, and maybe I should be revisit this summer destination during, well, summer. At that thought I bade Newport farewell and left sans the large-font, neon-printed souvenir shirt.

For more travel & lifestyle stories, visit http://jeepneyjinggoy.blogspot.com/ and http://apples-and-lemons.blogspot.com/ 

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