The Rhode Island mansions, which are utterly impressive in design and scale,
are among the top attractions
in the state, and for good reason. The Newport Rhode Island mansions are the
most renowned mansions in the state, and no Newport
visit would be complete without a tour of at least one of them. Newport isn't
the only place that you will find Rhode Island mansions, however, so you might
look to include a mansion visit when dropping in on other Rhode Island cities
and towns. Thankfully, Rhode Island is small, and even if you aren't staying
at one of the Newport
hotels, you can easily plan a side trip to view the city's opulent mansions.
It's hard not to think of Newport first when it comes to discussions about
the Rhode Island mansions. After the Civil War ended, a trend among America's
wealthy elite started, and it involved building palacial estates near the coast
in Newport. Interestingly enough, these wealthy citizens referred to their Newport
mansions as "summer cottages," which is a huge understatement. Summer palaces
is more like it. The Breakers
is the most renowned residence when it comes to the Newport Rhode Island mansions,
but by no means is it the only one. There are no less than fifteen Newport Rhode
Island mansions, and while some are still privately owned, others are open to
the public for tours or special events. Along Bellevue Avenue is where the bulk
of the Newport Rhode Island mansions can be found, while The Breakers is a tad
removed and can be found close by on Ochre Point Avenue. While hiking
along the Cliff
Walk recreational trail in Newport, you will be rewarded with excellent
views of the Newport Rhode Island mansions, and you can veer off of the trail
for a closer look or to enjoy a tour if you please.
In addition to The Breakers, other Newport mansions of high repute include Rosecliff, which was featured in The Great Gatsby and other movies, and the Marble House, which is one of the Rhode Island mansions that is open to the public year round. While some of the Rhode Island mansions, like the Marble House and The Breakers, are open all year, others are only open during the peak summer travel season. The Rhode Island mansions that are open to the public are essentially museums, and they give great insight into the opulent tendencies that America's wealthy elite favored before the era of property taxes. As mentioned, not all of the Rhode Island mansions are found in Newport, and Providence and Westerly are just two other destinations where you can go mansion hunting.
In Providence, the Governor Henry Lippitt House is a Victorian gem that you will do well to tour. The Lippitt House was built in 1865, and it is one of the best places in the country to view upscale Victorian decorations. The Lippitt House is now a museum, and you can tour its three stories and twenty rooms. As for the city of Westerly, the Watch Hill area is where you will have the best luck finding mansions. The Babcock-Smith House is one of the more renowned mansions in Westerly, and it was built in 1734. While not as ornate or as large as the Newport Rhode Island mansions, this National Historic Landmark is still a joy to view and tour.
In addition to mansions, Rhode Island also boasts several castles, which are essentially mansions. Belcourt Castle, which can be found in Newport, is among the more renowned Rhode Island castles. Not only can you enjoy tours at Belcourt Castle, but you can also use its venues for special events, such as weddings and formal dinners. Smith's Castle is another renowned Rhode Island castle, and it can be found in the village of North Kingston, which is not too far from Exeter. Smith's Castle was built in 1678, which makes it one of the oldest surviving homes in Rhode Island, not to mention in the entire United States. It is a National Historic Landmark, as so many other Rhode Island buildings and homes are. Guided tours of Smith's Castle are offered from mid-May to mid-October, and like some of the other Rhode Island mansions, Smith's Castle is closed the rest of the year. Smith's Castle pales in comparison to some of the state's other castles and mansions in terms of scale and opulence, which is partly due to its age. It wasn't until after the Civil War that the wealthy elite in America started to erect their "summer cottages" in Newport.