Okay we’ll admit it… We’re suckers for indulging in the finer things in life—even if that means we have to buy a ticket to tour a mansion we only wish we lived in. As Gray hinted in his Rhode Island travel guide, his latest travels have us dreaming of some jaw-dropping sights, and today we’re taking you along with us. From the beaches of this little East Coast destination, to the gargantuan homes that sit on its land, you’ll want to add these stops to your travel to-do list next time you visit Rhode Island. Let’s just say this small chunk of land occupying the U.S. may seem like it doesn’t have much to offer, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. There are a LOT of towering mansions to keep your attention in The Ocean State, but we’ve narrowed it down to our top five recs. You’re welcome! ;) Keep scrolling for our list of must-see Newport Mansions (and a sneak peek at some of Gray’s new work from the area)…
The Breakers Newport is easily a fan favorite of travelers and residents, and it’s easy to see why. It is impressive both inside and out, and is considered the “grandest” of all the summer cottages in the area. Not to mention, this mansion (along with the following Marble House and The Elms) is open year-round, whether you’re visiting in summer or winter. This stunner was built in 1893 and includes 70 rooms full of Renaissance-style details that the Vanderbilt family once called home. Guests can also venture to The Breakers Stable and Carriage House located about a half-mile away from the main house.
If you’re a fan of Versailles-style architecture and inspiration, then you’ll want to add Rosecliff to your list. The mansion boasts French details inspired by the Grand Trianon, and was finished in 1902. It has been the location of countless lavish parties and events over the past century since the Gilded Age (it was even featured in movies such as The Great Gatsby, so you know it’s the real deal), and its guest list has included some impressive names, including the likes of magician Harry Houdini.
Does the phrase “500,000 cubic feet of marble” mean anything to you? Then you NEED to see the Marble House. It has been said that the marble alone ran a bill upwards of $7 million, and the estate was a gift from William Vanderbilt (brother of the Vanderbilt who owned The Breakers) to his wife, Alva, on her 39th birthday. Alva also had the Chinese Tea House built on the back lawn, where she hosted rallies for women’s right to vote, and parties are still held at the Tea House today.
The Elms is another estate considered to sit in the top three most impressive mansions in Newport (along with The Breakers and Marble House). It’s hard to believe that this massive piece of architecture was simply a summer home, but it’s true! Edward Julius Berwind had the home built in 1898 after the style of the French Chateau d’Asnières, and although this one doesn’t feature an ocean view, we can guarantee there is plenty of luxury, expansive lawns, and terraces to make up for it. If you have the time, you can also book a Rooftop/Behind the Scenes Tour, including the servants quarters, underground tunnel systems, and rooftop views of the area.
Chateu-sur-Mer is for any lovers of all things Victorian-era, and this estate happens to be one of the oldest, dating back to the 1850s (before any of the famed Vanderbilt houses entered the scene). Plenty of impressive events, debutante balls, and other gatherings were held on these grounds, including an over-the-top country picnic in 1857 that boasted over 2,000 guests.
Are you going to add any of these historic homes to your bucket list?
We highly recommend you do—and we highly recommend you check out the entirety of Gray’s work from Newport and Block Island while you’re at it… ;)
Xx Team GM
Photos: Gray Malin, The Preservation Society of Newport County