A step back in time to the gilded age where gold and marble fireplaces, grand staircases, and elaborately painted ceilings graced the homes of the wealthy. It was the robber baron era where the late 19th century businessmen, bankers, railroad tycoons, and coal magnates who dominated the industrial age amassed huge fortunes and flaunted their wealth by showcasing their homes.
It was a time when the likes of the Vanderbilts and Astors were drawn to Newport - the City By The Sea - along the southern tip of Aquidneck Island in Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island. The area is graced with breathtakingly beautiful cliffs that jet out into the Atlantic ocean. It is here where the wealthy built magnificent summer homes they called "cottages." Each home was not only decorated elaborately but had equally amazing gardens.
We often visit Newport since it's only a 45 minute drive from where we live. Sometimes we just go to enjoy the sunsets by the water and stop for a seaside dinner. Other times we spend the day shopping and walking by the docks.
One of my favorite things to do is tour the mansions in Newport. There are still many mansions in Newport today that are currently occupied by the wealthy. But, I'm referring to visiting the mansions that are now historic sites and museums that once hosted lavish parties in the late 19th century as the Astors presided as the official head of the social scene at the time.
There are 11 mansions in total that the public can tour in this area. The mansions today are hosts to charity events, weddings, and other activities that the average person can enjoy and peek into the lives of the rich and famous of the day.
Each year the Rosecliff mansion hosts the Newport Flower Show. This was my first year there and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Rosecliff was commissioned by Nevada silver heiress Theresa Fair Oelrichs in 1899. The house was completed in 1902, at a reported cost of $2.5 million. "Tessie", as she was known to her friends, was born in Virginia City, Nevada. Her father, James Graham Fair, was an Irish immigrant who made an enormous fortune from Nevada's Comstock silver lode, one of the richest silver finds in history. Scenes from several films have been shot on location at Rosecliff, including The Great Gatsby, True Lies and Amistad.
Over the next several days I'll be posting pictures of my visit to the Newport Flower Show. I hope you will enjoy the tour of this idyllic place.
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