There were a lot of things I was looking forward to on this trip – but one of the highlights for me was touring the mansions in Newport. We arrived later in town and had time to do some shopping and then have dinner at a nearby pub. The next morning was all business: mansions all day. As many as we could possibly tour.
Our first was the Elms. Built by the Berwinds [who made their fortune in coal]. We toured the house ourselves and then got a private tour of the servants’ headquarters afterwards. Walking through the front gate gave me chills. I had learned about all these architects and designers in my design program so it was surreal walking through the actual houses they had worked on.
We had some time to walk around the grounds for a bit before heading off to lunch at The Shop. I’d say the Elms was my third favorite of all the mansions we toured. Then, off to the next estate: the Breakers. I was looking forward to this property the very most and it did not dissapoint.
What WAS disappointing is that I couldn’t take photographs inside (or inside any of the mansions, for that matter). But pictures wouldn’t have done justice. Oh, the Vanderbilts [who made their fortune in the railroads] they really knew how to spend some serious coin. I think the part that floored me the absolute most was the fact that these were not just homes. These mansions were deemed “summer cottages”. They were not the families SECOND homes, but their fifth and sixth vacation homes. I would die to see what place they all called their permanent home actually looked like.
After the Breakers (which turned out to be my second favorite) we went down to the water to take a sunset sail on the bay.
It was chilly, but luckily they provided us with blankets (and Siri shared her spare pair of gloves with me) so we stayed pretty warm. Behind us [the brown structure] was Jackie O’s childhood home. The views were incredible and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect.
And, like a 10-year-old, I requested to drive the boat “all by myself” and was surprised the captain agreed to it. He didn’t go far…obviously… I felt like a legit Kennedy or something, with the American Flag blowing in the wind behind me.
We warmed up for dinner at a nearby chowder house where I had my very first lobster roll. No better place than in Newport!
The next morning was our second round of mansion tours. First, was Rosecliff – where part of the Great Gatsby was filmed. It had more owners than any other estate, but has one of the best views, in my opinion.
Then, on to Chateau Sur Mer. Considered one of the first stone mansions in the Newport area. It was incredible, but kind of creeped me out. It felt more medieval than it did palacial. The ground were amazing, though. The trees alone are hundreds of years older than anything that we have here in Utah.
Last, we toured Marble House. My absolute favorite. Saved the best for last, I suppose. Another one of the Vanderbilt family estates, it didn’t feel like it belonged in America at all. In fact, each new room I went into reminded me more and more of Versailles in France. The homage to King Louis was evident – if you didn’t get that from the giant bust of him in the staircase landing. I couldn’t decide which part perturbed me more: the fact that these people were TRYING to be royal or the fact that they had enough money to act like they actually were. The entire estate was marble. The walls, the ceiling – nearly every square inch. All the furniture and ornamentation was Louis XVI style which was completely over the top but wonderful. My favorite was the lilac bedroom (which reminded me of Marie Antoinette – thank you glorious internet)…
Afterwards we had time to do a little shopping and then have dinner at 22 Bowen’s [my favorite meal of the entire trip] on the pier. We had delicious sea food and Lori and Rachael braved eating an entire lobster (that we later learned could have possibly been pregnant). So there’s that…
We popped in and out of shops until they all started to close and we made our way back to our hotel.
The next morning some of us had planned to walk/run the Cliff Walk. It is a designated path along the edge of the water. The ocean on one side, and all the mansions we had toured on the other. Gina and I dropped the members of our troop off at one end and we drove to the other, planning to run back. Waves were crashing along our way – we even got sea sprayed a few times! It was my favorite run of the trip.
It was hard to leave – but the thought of coming home to my baby and my baby daddy after 5 days made it easier. We had a fantastic time. Good laughs, great people. Not to mention all of that with a beautiful backdrop.
Thank you, Hendo ladies! And New England: I am coming back for you. But until then, a few of my favorite things about you to hold me over…
- stone fences
- pumpkins on every doorstep
- the seafood
- apple stands
- american flags everywhere
- cobblestone streets
- sea spray
- the local’s accents
- stone churches
- apple cider
- blankets of leaves