The Breakers Mansion

The palatial mansions in Newport Rhode Island are among the top attractions in the entire state, and none is more renowned than The Breakers. Dubbed as a palazzo, which translates to a small castle in Italian, The Breakers is anything but small. A Beaux-Arts gem, this stately residence boasts no less than 70 rooms. It's foundation, which is almost equal in size to a football field, rests on 11 acres of land on scenic Ochre Point Avenue. The Breakers mansion was built between the years of 1892 and 1895, and it was commissioned by Cornelius Vanderbilt II, whose grandfather was none other than Commodore Vanderbilt. Commodore made his money in the steamship and railroad industries, and the younger Cornelius eventually assumed the role of Chairmen and President of his grandfather's New York Central Railroad operation.

As many of the wealthy elite were doing at the time, Cornelius chose Newport as the site for one of his most opulent residences. He purchased the land on which The Breakers Mansion stands in 1893, and after an original wood-framed house burned down, he enlisted architect Richard Morris Hunt to design his new abode. An international team of artisans was employed to help in the construction of The Breakers Rhode Island mansion, and they provided gold leaf accents, marble carvings, eloquent paintings, and other opulent touches. Cornelius Vanderbilt II, his wife, and their seven children called The Breakers mansion home in the summers mostly, and in 1934, daughter Gladys inherited the house. Gladys Vanderbilt supported The Preservation Society of Newport County rather fervently, and in 1948 she opened The Breakers to the public with the aim of generating funds for the society. It wasn't until 1972 that the Preservation Society assumed ownership of the palazzo, and today it is a National Historic Landmark.

There is a lot to take in during a visit to The Breakers Rhode Island mansion, and you might be inclined to think that you've been transported to a palace in France or Italy upon entering the stately structure. The rooms on the main floor were furnished by a design firm in Paris, and the rooms themselves were actually built in European workshops. The room pieces were shipped to Newport once they were finished, and workers on the American side reassembled them. One of the more amazing features in The Breakers mansion is the Great Hall, which is laden with marble and measures fifty by fifty feet. Before you even enter the main grounds and access the palace, the 30-feet tall, wrought-iron fence gates will likely astound you, not to mention give you an idea of just how opulent the overall complex is. While touring the inside of the home, you can see the third floor bedrooms that the Vanderbilts used, and you can also visit the 30 bedrooms that were used by staff members. All of the furnishings that you will see on a tour of The Breakers Rhode Island mansion are original, which only helps to add to the appeal of the residence.

The Breakers is open to the public every day of the year, save for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and operating hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 pm. If you want to enjoy a tour of the home, you will have to arrange it before 4 p.m., which is when the last tour admissions are offered. In addition to touring The Breakers mansion on its own, Newport visitors can also book tours that feature more than one of the city's mansions. The Newport Mansions Experience tours, for example, allow you to visit and tour five different mansions. The Breakers, The Elms, the Marble House, Chateau-sur-Mer, and Rosecliff are among the mansions that you can explore when you book one of the Newport Mansions Experience tours. Some of the mansions in Newport close during the winter months, so you will want to keep that in mind. There is a parking lot at The Breakers, though many top Newport hotels will have you within walking distance of the home, not to mention the scenic Cliff Walk National Recreation Trail, which offers terrific mansion views.

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