The Gilded Age Mansions of Rhode Island

Rhode Island’s Gilded Age Mansions

Rhode Island is home to some stunning mansions that showcase the life of the upper class elite of the glistening Gilded Age. One of the most loved methods for vaunting riches was to buy a summer “cottage” in Newport, Rhode Island. These cottages were actually colossal mansions- vacation homes for the rich and famous of their day. A considerable lot of these mansions have turned out to be a piece of the national creative energy as they have been utilized as the settings of various movies. While the Great Gatsby occurred on Long Island, the 1974 film used the Mansions as a part of the Newport Gilded Age. Some of these structures have fascinating stories.


The Breakers

The Breakers was the marvel of the Vanderbilts, who amassed their fortune in steamships and railroads. After the wooden house smoldered to the ground in 1892, Cornelius Vanderbilt assembled a new mansion of 70 rooms with about 65,000 square feet of living space. It was planned by the eminent designer Richard Morris Hunt. On entering the Great Hall, Hunt’s figure can be seen above one of the six entryways of the Great Hall. He is following in some admirable people’s footsteps, as alternate entryways have above them: Dante, Apollo, Galileo, and the stone carver himself, Karl Bitter. The Breakers is loaded with rich furniture, craftsmanship and apparatuses. It has turned into the quintessential case of the Gilded Age way of life of the rich. Newport was the focal point of the well-off social class and the Breakers was its pulsating heart. 


The Breakers
The Breakers in Newport, RI

The Kingscote Mansion

The Kingscote Mansion was one of the first purported summer cabins assembled. It was made in the Gothic Revival style and is credited for reintroducing this form of architecture to the public. The house has curves, towers, and lavish trim. It was perhaps one of the first houses to motivate the rich to manufacture and gather in the range. This house is now a National Historic Landmark.

The Kingscote Mansion
The Kingscote Mansion is known for its Gothic Revival style

Chateau Sur Mer

Chateau Sur Mer is another mansion in the Newport Style of the Gilded Age, substantial and luxurious. It was likely the first mansion to really introduce this era. In its heyday, enormous gatherings were tossed with visitors numbering in the thousands. The building was the biggest until the Vanderbilt’s arrived. Chateau Sur Mer is a great Victorian style house complete with lavish furniture, divider paper, as well as stenciling and earthenware production. The mansion is now a National Historic Landmark.

Chateau Sur Mer
Chateau Sur Mer glistens with great Victorian style.

Marble House

Another notable landmark of the Bellevue Avenue Historic District includes the Marble House, which was originally owned by the Vanderbilt family and designed by Richard Morris Hunt. With the estimated cost of the Marble House being $11 million, $7 million of this total cost included 500,000 cubic feet of marble. The mansion is often compared to the Palace of Versailles in Paris, France and also to the White House in Washington D.C., due to its elaborate Beaux-Arts architecture. Before their divorce in 1895, William K. Vanderbilt presented the Marble House as a gift to his wife, Alva. After the death of her second husband, Alva built a Chinese Tea House nearby where she and other ladies rallied together for the right to vote.


The Marble House
The Marble House is one of the most notable landmarks of the Bellevue Avenue Historic District


Picture attributions:

  1. By UpstateNYer (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
  2. Daniel Case at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
  3. Daderot at en.wikipedia [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

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