Newport County Gilded Age Trail
America's Gilded Age continues to capture the imagination of visitors from all over the world a century after its heyday. Newport was the epicenter of this fascinating period of American social and architectural history. The Astors, Vanderbilts and numerous other magnates chose Newport, with its spectacular location on Atlantic to build their lavish castles and palaces, using the top architects of the day and best craftsmen from here and abroad.
Along this trail you'll visit these summer cottages and museums depicting the lifestyles of America's Gilded Age
Louis XIII-style castle designed by Richard Morris Hunt for Oliver H.P. Belmont. Exhibits a full-size gold Coronation Coach and one of the largest collections of antiques and treasures in Newport. Open to the public since 1957. Furnishings from 33 European and Asian countries and from the 20th century. 657 Bellevue Avenue, Newport; 401-846-0669; www.belcourtcastle.com
A National Historic Landmark, Newport's most palatial summer residence was built (1893-1895) for Cornelius Vanderbilt by Richard Morris Hunt. The symmetry of design, opulence and lavish use of alabaster, marble, mosaics and antique woods rival the magnificent northern Italian Renaissance palaces after which it was modeled. The 70-room mansion overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. Children's cottage. Decorated for Christmas in December. April-December, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
The Breakers Stable & Carriage House
Built in 1895 by Richard Morris Hunt, this incredible building was an extremely important addition to the Breakers. A private collection of various Vanderbilt memorabilia, including the famous coach Venture, is on display. Daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Ochre Point Avenue, Newport; 401-847-1000; www.newportmansions.org
Considered one of America's finest examples of lavish Victorian architecture and design. Built for China trade merchant William S. Wetmore, it was renovated by Richard Morris Hunt in 1872. Noted for its fine examples of Victorian furnishings & stenciled wall papers. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Bellevue Avenue, Newport; 401-847-1000; www.newportmansions.org
The Italianate-style villa was designed by architect George Champlin Mason and is a classic example of a Victorian summer cottage. It was the summer residence of the prominent Morris family from New York, which included a signer of the Declaration of Independence. The house contains the Morris' collections, including 19th-century landscape paintings by Hudson River School artists. Daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Reservations required. Narragansett Avenue, Newport; 401-847-1000; www.newportmansions.org
Edward King House
Designed by Richard Upjohn for Edward King, the mansion is considered one of the finest villas of Italianate design in America. Now a senior citizen's center. Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. 35 King Street, Newport; 401-846-7426; www.edwardkinghouse.com
Magnificent estate of the late E.J. Berwind, Philadelphia coal magnate. Designed by famous Philadelphia architect Horace Trumbauer and modeled after the early 18th-century Chateau d' Asnieres near Paris. Formal sunken garden designed by French landscape architect Jacques Greber. Decorated for Christmas in December. Self-guided audio tour. Separate admission for behind-the-scenes tours also available. Museum store. Bellevue Avenue, Newport; 401-847-1000; www.newportmansions.org
International Tennis Hall of Fame
World's largest tennis museum, featuring interactive exhibits, extraordinary videos and popular memorabilia of tennis champions - past, present and future. Known as Newport's "Sporting Mansion," the structural masterpiece is one of the finest examples of Victorian shingle-style architecture in the world. The six-acre complex features 13 pristine grass tennis courts - all open for public play. Site of the first U.S. Tennis Championships (known today as the U.S. Open), world-class tennis tournaments are still played here each summer. 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. 194 Bellevue Avenue, Newport; 401-849-3990, 800-457-1144; www.tennisfame.com
Isaac Bell House
The Isaac Bell House is one of the finest examples of shingle-style architecture in America. The house was an early commission of the firm of McKim, Mead and White and was completed in 1883 for Isaac Bell, the brother-in-law of James Gordon Bennett Jr., publisher of the New York Herald. Daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Bellevue Avenue, Newport; 401-847-1000; www.newportmansions.org
Charming Gothic-revival cottage built in 1849 by Richard Upjohn as a summer residence for George Noble Jones of Savannah, Georgia. House features the celebrated McKim, Mead and White dining room, added in 1881, with Tiffany glass wall and cork ceiling. Exhibits, fine 18th- and 19th-century American furnishings and outstanding Chinese export paintings and porcelains. Daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Bellevue Avenue, Newport; 401-847-1000; www.newportmansions.org
Mansion built for William K. Vanderbilt and his wife Alva in 1892, it contains 500,000 cubic feet of marble from Europe and Africa. Building uses features of the Grand and Petit Trianons at Versailles. Harold S. Vanderbilt Memorial Room features yachting trophies and memorabilia. Chinese Teahouse (1913-1914) on grounds. April-December, daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; January-March, weekends, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Bellevue Avenue, Newport; 401-847-1000; www.newportmansions.org
Overlooking famous Cliff Walk and Atlantic Ocean. Built for silver heiress Theresa Oelrichs. Designed by McKim, Mead and White; modeled after the Grand Trianon at Versailles. Features Newport's largest private ballroom. Provided setting for several movies including True Lies in 1994. Daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Bellevue Avenue, Newport; 401-847-1000; www.newportmansions.org
Former Newport home of tobacco heiress Doris Duke. Originally built for the Vanderbilt family, the spectacular house has served as the seasonal residence of the Duke family for more than 70 years. Opened for tours for the first time in 2000, the Duke estate has a colorful history. Features an extensive art collection, changing exhibits and stunning views of the Cliff Walk & Atlantic Ocean. Tours available through the Newport Gateway Center, 23 America's Cup Ave. Tuesday-Saturday. Bellevue Avenue, Newport; 401-849-7300; www.newportrestoration.org
Newport Gateway Center
23 America's Cup Avenue
Newport, Rhode Island
Great spots for snapshots.
- Cliff Walk - picturesque 3.5-mile walkway overlooking the Atlantic and the backyard of Newport's famed mansions. www.newportcliffwalk.com
- Brenton Point State park - on a clear day you can see forever www.riparks.com/Locations/LocationBrentonPoint.html
Side trips for that one-of-a-kind find:
- Newport County has dozens of antique shops and art galleries for every collector's taste. www.gonewport.com/nav.aspx?id=142
- Newport Art Museum - www.newportartmuseum.org
- The National Museum of American Illustration - exhibiting original artworks from the Golden Age of American Illustration. www.americanillustration.org
Great side trips for outdoor fun:
- Cliff Walk - stroll along the walk to see the rocky Atlantic coast and view the backyards of some of Newport's famed Gilded Age mansions. www.newportcliffwalk.com
- Norman Bird Sanctuary - a 450-acre wildlife refuge offering more than seven miles of hiking trails. www.normanbirdsanctuary.org
- Ocean Drive - drive, walk or bike along 10 miles of scenic ocean coastline in Newport. www.tenmiledrive.com
Here are some tips on shopping along the trail.
- Bowens, Bannisters and Sayers Wharf -shops and galleries along cobblestone streets and waterfront.
- Brick Marketplace; Historic Thames Street
- Famed Bellevue Avenue Shops
Did you know.
- The International Tennis Hall of Fame has the only open public grass tennis courts in the country
- The White Horse Tavern is the oldest operating tavern in America
Learn more about Newport County at:
- Museum of Newport History - provides the whole family with an overview of Newport's rich and varied history and architectural beauty. www.newporthistorical.org
- Newport Historical Society Archives and Library - the society features changing exhibits and has extensive holdings of colonial silver, china, portraits, ship models. www.newporthistorical.org
- Redwood Library and Athenaeum - oldest library building in America - holds collections of 18th- and 19th-century portraits, sculpture, antique furniture, rare and unique books. www.redwoodlibrary.org
- Jamestown Museum - 19th-century schoolhouse with permanent exhibit of memorabilia from Jamestown ferries and special annual exhibits
- International Yacht Restoration School - see students restore classic yachts of yesteryear. Tour Coronet - the most historic American grand yacht still in existence. www.iyrs.edu