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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Breakers

The Breakers still stands as the stone and mortar embodiment of the Gilded Age. One of the Newport, Rhode Island mansions, a National Historic Landmark, the Breakers was built as the summer home of Cornelius Vanderbilt II, president of the New York Central Railroad. His most prominent family of industrialists led the social scene of the last years of America in the Victorian era. Vanderbilt’s 70-room summer home was built between 1893 and 1895, part of a 13-acre estate that faces east overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

The interior boasts marble imported from Italy and Africa, alabaster, and wood and mosaics from various countries. The Great Hall is two and a half stories high. In the year it was completed The Breakers was the most opulent and largest house in Newport, once the social capital of America.

When Vanderbilt died in 1899, he left the property to his wife, Alice Gwynne Vanderbilt. She died in 1934 and the Breakers was left to her youngest daughter, Countess Gladys Széchenyi, who leased the property to the non-profit Preservation Society of Newport County. The Society bought the Breakers outright in 1972, though the agreement with the Society allows the family to continue to live on the third floor, not open to the public.

It is now the most-visited attraction in Rhode Island with approximately 300,000 visitors each year, open year-round for tours, one of several grand mansions open to the public in Newport.

Want to go? Contact The Preservation Society of Newport website.

Been there? Done that? Bought the T-shirt? Let us know.

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