Sunday, June 28, 2009

Newport, Rhode Island - A Return to the Gilded Age

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.

21 comments:

CiNdEe said...

It sure looks beautiful there!
I love the ocean and have never been to the Atlantic before.
What a fun thing to tour the mansions!
I love that movie True Lies!(-:

Mildred said...

What a lovely place to watch the sunset, dine or shop and those mansions sound divine! I love seeing the elegant furnishings and architectural features of such homes. The flower show sounds great. Can't wait to hear more.

Sheila said...

It sounds like a lovely place to spend a summer day!

Sylvana said...

I love mansions! I love that first picture. I like too look at pictures of mansions and make believe that I live there.

The Garden Ms. S said...

I look forward to your posting on this beautiful place! :)

gardenerprogress/Catherine said...

It's beautiful there. I can't wait to see your pictures.

debbie said...

DEAR JACKIE AND ELLIE MAE,
Sammy, my gentlemen Schaunzer wanted to be sure you gave Ellie Mae a good sniff behind her ear...that is hello language from Sammy. Every dog he visits he always sniffs their ears.
Your post about Houston and the move of the company was so heart warming but heart breaking as you discussed each person and how they affected your life and Praise God, for it working out where you will do your job from home....awesome and I know that will make Ellie Mae happy.
I love to tour historic mansions....no one living close to me enjoys that kind of thing...
I am 2 posts away from my 100th post. I am so glad you joined as a follower as those who are following my blog before my 100th post give-away will get an extra chance.
What kind of terrier is Ellie Mae....I would love a little soul just like her.
hugs
debbie

lynn'sgarden said...

Jackie, what a wonderful place to visit! Your photos are beautiful, too! Can't wait to see the flower show!

tina said...

I'm looking forward to seeing all the pictures Jackie. Such a lovely place, reminds me of Maine. No ocean here in Tennessee and I miss it.

Beegirl said...

Do you see my mouth hanging open? Wonderful shots! WOW! We were just at Clayton (Henry Clay Frick's home here in Pittsburgh). It was amazing to see all the original wall coverings, drapes, and "new" technology ...like the first shower. Bet Rosecliff is amazing...

Beegirl said...

Jackie -Thanks for your kind thoughts about little Ramie. I really appreciate it.. : )

Joanne said...

What an interesting post.

islandgardener said...

Thanks for the Newport tour -- perhaps someday I'll actually get to stay there, instead of just driving by the outer edges of it! When I go to the Cape, including my May trip, I typically go that way (including over one of those huge creepy green bridges), but never far enough into town to get a sense of how lovely it is! Jant

Tatyana said...

Very interesting! I like to visit mansions! We toured several of them in Maine. Good pictures,I will wait for more!

Tootsie said...

I have never seen the ocean before...maybe some day...what a beautiful place!!!

Carrie said...

Oh I want to go. But I'd want to be one of the social set from the hay day with fabulous flowing gowns and sparkly jewels. Looks so gorgeous.

mothernaturesgarden said...

Rich in oh so many ways. I'm looking forward to the flower show.
Donna

Sunweeds Secret Garden said...

I love all the old mansions, such an interesting past

Seasonal Wisdom said...

These Newport posts have brought back many wonderful memories. I used to work in Providence for a while, and I often spent summer weekends in Newport. I'm going to forward your blog to a friend who is staying in a beach house nearby later this summer. She'll love this information. Best, Teresa

sweet bay said...

My husband's sister-in-law is from Newport, so I have heard stories. I hadn't seen pictures like these though! Amazing!

Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary said...

Hiya! I found you via Four Green Acres and came to check out your blog and lo and behold....you're in my town, lol. I'm from RI, not the island tho, I'm in a much, much smaller town. I've been to the flower show many times, love seeing your pics. I espically love the bird nest table setting! Great blog!