Summer is my favorite season and that is due, in large part, to all of the summer days and nights spent in Newport, RI. The seaside town is set amidst historic buildings, cobble stone streets, and some of the nations best known ( and impeccably preserved) mansions. You can charter a motor or sail boat to take in the spectacular coast line or hop on a bike or walk the city to get a feel for it’s charming streets.
1. Grace Kelly and Louis Armstrong on the set of High Society filmed in Newport. A must see!
2. Dinner and dancing at The Sky Bar on the top floor of The Clark Cooke House. After 11:30 pm the tables are cleared and the DJ starts spinning, finish up the evening with a rendition of “God Bless America”. The heirloom tomato salad and lobster ravioli are my favorite dishes. Make sure to save room for their famous “Snowball in Hell” for dessert (a chocolate brownie, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce, and shaved coconut lit on fire).
3. Surfing at Bailey’s as photographed by Slim Aarons
4. Newport to Bermuda Race June 2010
1. Grab a cocktail ( preferably a dark n’ stormy) and watch the sun set on the lawn of The New York Yacht Club. On a side note, I was married here and it is one of my favorite locations.
2. Images 2,3,6, and 7 are various levels of The Clark Cooke House ( the Sky Bar is the top) which in my opinion, is the best restaurant in town for dinner.
4. The Newport Bridge at Sunset
5. The Black Pearl is located right next to the Cooke House on Bannisters Wharf and is the perfect spot for lunch or go to the annex for a hot dog and clam chowder.
7. The Boom Boom Room is the night club in the basement of The Clark Cooke House.
1. and 2. The Elms was the summer residence of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Julius Berwind of Philadelphia and New York. Mr. Berwind made his fortune in the Pennsylvania coal industry. In 1898, the Berwinds engaged Philadelphia architect Horace Trumbauer to design a house modeled after the mid-18th century French chateau d’Asnieres (c.1750) outside Paris. Construction of The Elms was completed in 1901 at a cost reported at approximately $1.4 million. The interiors and furnishings were designed by Allard and Sons of Paris and were the setting for the Berwinds’ collection of Renaissance ceramics, 18th century French and Venetian paintings, and Oriental jades. The elaborate Classical Revival gardens on the grounds were developed between 1907 and 1914. They include terraces displaying marble and bronze sculpture, a park of fine specimen trees and a lavish lower garden featuring marble pavilions, fountains, a sunken garden and carriage house and garage. These gardens were recently restored.
Mrs. Berwind died in 1922, and Mr. Berwind invited his sister, Julia, to become his hostess at his New York and Newport houses. Mr. Berwind died in 1936 and Miss Julia continued to summer at The Elms until her death in 1961, at which time the house and most of its contents were sold at public auction. The Preservation Society of Newport County purchased The Elms in 1962 and opened the house to the public. In 1996, The Elms was designated a National Historic Landmark.
3. The Tea House at Marble House. Marble House was built between 1888 and 1892 for Mr. and Mrs. William K. Vanderbilt, a summer house, or “cottage”, as Newporters called them in remembrance of the modest houses of the early 19th century. But Marble House was much more; it was a social and architectural landmark that set the pace for Newport’s subsequent transformation from a quiet summer colony of wooden houses to the legendary resort of opulent stone palaces.
Mr. Vanderbilt was the grandson of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, who established the family’s fortune in steamships and the New York Central Railroad. His older brother was Cornelius II, who built The Breakers. Alva Vanderbilt was a leading hostess in Newport society, and envisioned Marble House as her “temple to the arts” in America. It was designed by the architect Richard Morris Hunt, inspired by the Petit Trianon at Versailles. The cost of the house was reported in contemporary press accounts to be $11 million, of which $7 million was spent on 500,000 cubic feet of marble. Upon its completion, Mr. Vanderbilt gave the house to his wife as a 39th birthday present. The Vanderbilts had 3 children: Consuelo, who became the 9th Duchess of Marlborough; William K., Jr., a prominent figure in pioneering the sport of auto racing in America; and Harold, one of the finest yachtsmen of his era who successfully defended the America’s Cup three times. The Vanderbilts divorced in 1895 and Alva married Oliver H.P. Belmont, moving down the street to Belcourt. After his death, she reopened Marble House, and had a Chinese Tea House built on the seaside cliffs, where she hosted rallies for women’s right to vote. She sold the house to Frederick H. Prince in 1932. The Preservation Society acquired the house in 1963 from the Prince estate. In 2006, Marble House was designated a National Historic Landmark
4. The Breakers is the grandest of Newport’s summer “cottages” and a symbol of the Vanderbilt family’s social and financial preeminence in turn of the century America. Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877) established the family fortune in steamships and later in the New York Central Railroad, which was a pivotal development in the industrial growth of the nation during the late 19th century. The Commodore’s grandson, Cornelius Vanderbilt II, became Chairman and President of the New York Central Railroad system in 1885, and purchased a wooden house called The Breakers in Newport during that same year. In 1893, he commissioned architect Richard Morris Hunt to design a villa to replace the earlier wood-framed house which was destroyed by fire the previous year. Hunt directed an international team of craftsmen and artisans to create a 70 room Italian Renaissance- style palazzo inspired by the 16th century palaces of Genoa and Turin. Allard and Sons of Paris assisted Hunt with furnishings and fixtures, Austro-American sculptor Karl Bitter designed relief sculpture, and Boston architect Ogden Codman decorated the family quarters.
The Vanderbilts had seven children. Their youngest daughter, Gladys, who married Count Laszlo Szechenyi of Hungary, inherited the house on her mother’s death in 1934. An ardent supporter of The Preservation Society of Newport County, she opened The Breakers in 1948 to raise funds for the Society. In 1972, the Preservation Society purchased the house from her heirs. Today, the house is designated a National Historic Landmark.
5. and 6. Doris Duke’s Rough Point. Frederick W. Vanderbilt built this vast English Manorial house in 1889 on a dramatic, windswept promontory on Newport’s Cliff Walk, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. In 1922, James B. Duke, the founder of fortunes in electric power and tobacco, and benefactor of Duke University, purchased Rough Point. In 1925, James Duke died, leaving his enormous financial legacy to twelve-year-old Doris, his only child. Rough Point became one of Doris’s several very private retreats.
Doris Duke had a keen eye as a collector and followed this passion throughout her life. Representative artists within the collection include Renoir, Van Dyck, and Joshua Reynolds as well as artisans of the Ming Dynasty. Upon her death in 1993, she bequeathed the estate to the Newport Restoration Foundation, the organization she founded to help preserve Newport Rhode Island’s architectural heritage.
7. The Tennis Hall of Fame
Places To Stay:
1. The Inn at Castle Hill overlooks the mouth of Newport Harbor and Jamestown.
To reserve a room: http://www.castlehillinn.com/
2. The Chanler Hotel is perched right above 1st Beach at the beginning of the Cliff Walk.
To reserve a room: http://www.thechanler.com/
3. The Hotel Viking is the perfect spot to be right in the center of town. From here it is an easy walk to tour the mansions, browse antiques on Spring Street, or walk down to dinner on Thames Street.
To reserve a room: http://www.hotelviking.com/
If you want to see more of Newport and read about the architects and the people whose homes they designed go to amazon for the following books: