Newport is a charming coastal city located on Aquidneck Island in Newport County, Rhode Island that retains many buildings from the Colonial era and beyond that infuse historic charm into the area. Brick paved streets, old gas post lanterns reminiscent of Charleston, and clapboard houses in the historic district provide an interesting backdrop to an area known for yachting, beaches, a renowned jazz festival, tennis championships, naval installations, and showstopping mansions built as summer cottages by the wealthy in the Gilded Age of the 18th century.
Summering On The Rhode island Coast
Long before the building boom of the late 19th century, as early as the 1730’s, plantation owners from the South routinely summered there to escape the oppressive regional heat. Summer temperatures in the 70s throughout the summer made Newport an attractive destination for recreational sailing and enjoying sea breezes and ocean views.
in the 1890’s, American royalty such as the Vanderbilts, the Belmonts, and the Astors built castle-like “cottages” there that reflected an opulence enjoyed by only a few who came there for yachting, tennis, and partying, While many mansions later feel into decay and were razed for uses as mundane as parking lots, those that remain are spectacular reminders of how the wealthy lived. Current visitors can see the many rooms and the spacious manicured lawns where the rich cavorted.
Existing homes lie within a 606-acre historic district that is recognized as a national landmark; the architecture of many buildings have earned the individual national landmark status themselves. The properites were constructed and modified by some of the most prominent architects of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Many homes are now museums operated by private individuals or by the Preservation Society of Newport County, which bought or was bequeathed many homes.
The Mansions Of Newport
Some of the most prominent homes that are open to the public include these gems.
Hunter House, built 1748–1754
Originally built in 1748 for Colonial Deputy Governor Jonathan Nichols Jr. , Hunter House at 54 Washington Street is a 2½ story home with a gambrel roof that was later transformed into a formal Georgian center hall mansion mansion eight years later by merchant and then deputy governor Colonel Joseph Wanton Jr and Senator and Ambassador William Hunter.The home Is famous for a carved wooden pineapple over the door as a symbol of welcome., which was inspired by the custom of placing a real pineapple at the door to announce that the owner returned from sea.
Kingscote, originally George Noble Jones House, built 1839
Florida plantation owner George Noble Jones built a Gothic Revival house along Bellevue Avenue that featured an irregular roofline, multiple gables and chimneys, Gothic detail, and a wooden exterior with sand mixed into the paint to resemble sandstone. The first ”summer cottage mansion” was sold to merchant William H King, who added a large dining room, a new service wing, and gas lighting.
Chateau-sur-Mer, built 1852
Located at 424 Belluvue Avenue, Chateau-sur-Mer is an Italianate villa built for merchant William Shepard Wetmore in 1825. It was one of the only year-round residences in a area, as the Wetmores, were local redientys active in state and national politics.. The original Victorian building was upgraded several times by prominent architects of the day so that it ultimately encompassed most popular design trends of the last half of the 1800s.Tthe home was the most elegant in Newport until the Vanderbilt homes were constructed in the 1890s.
Chepstow, built 1860
Bullt in the Italianate style as a summer cottage in 1860 for local architect and entrepreneur Edmund Schermerhorn, Chepstow Mansion has tall, narrow windows, a low-pitched roof with overhanging eaves, and square towers yet has the informality of an Italian farmhouse. Its large second story Palladian window above a round arch entrance pavilion and single-story bay window are the trademarks of the architect who built it, George Champlin Mason.
Green Animals Topiary Garden, built.1860
Originally built as summer cottage in 1859, the house located in Portsmouth was purchased in 1872 by Thomas E. Brayton. the treasurer of the Union Cotton Manufacturing Company, Its original garden and pastures were transformed into a “museum of living sculpture” over the years from 1905-1945 by gardener Joseph Carreiro, who added fruit trees, perennial beds, herb and vegetable gardens, and that were made into topiaries. The creations grew to include teddy bears, a camel, a giraffe, an ostrich, an elephant, pineapples, a unicorn, a reindeer, a dog and spot a horse with his rider, and two bears made from sculptured California privet, yew, and English boxwood. Alice Brayton renamed the Green Animals in honor of the toparies and ultimately left it to the Preservation Society. The documentary Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control tells the story of the gardens,.
Marble House, built 1888–1892
Built as a summer home for the Wiliam Vanderbilts in 1888, Marble House at 596 Bellevue Avenue turned Newport from a community of wooden cottages into a resort of stone palaces. Built for $11 dollars (equivalent to $300 million in 2017),the mansion design took inspiration from the Palace of Versailles; $7 of the original cost was spent on marble. A Chinese Tea house built on the property was later the site of women’s suffrage rallies. The grand interiors of the home were used as filming locations for several movies , TV shows, and commercials.
The Breakers, built 1893–1895
This Italian Renaissance home of Cornelius Vanderbilt, located on Ochre Point Avenue, covers an acre for the home alone. Designed by famed architect Richard Morris Hunt, the Breakers had 70 rooms located on 14 acres. Because it was built on the site of a mansion that burned down, the home was built to be as fireproof as possible, Currently the most visited home in the area, the Breakers is the ultimate symbol of the Gilded Age.
Bringing Gas Post Lanterns To Your Home
Nobody builds homes like those found in the historic district today, but they are interesting historic residences to visit for anyone interested in history and architecture. .The whole historic district offers a look into the past as even the lightning in the area hearkens back to the copper lanterns that were common. Electric and gas post lanterns still dot the streets and influence the logos of many restaurants.
While here are examples of lanterns similar to what Lantern & Scroll offers in our Charleston Collection, Vauxhall collection, and Broad Street collection, the majesty of Newport is best reflected in the Newport Cities Collection. With straight angled sides and a heavier curved top finished off with a brass ring, the Collection took its inspiration from the spectacular mansions in the area.
For a touch of history in your home, visit Lantern & Scroll where every fixture is handmade of solid copper for long-lasting beauty,