Mr. Berwind drew the short straw and occupied the smaller of the two bedrooms in the Elms mansion as his wife Sarah Torrey Berwind, got the larger corner room. I was shocked to see just how small the bedroom was for one of the richest men in the country, even if it was just a summer residence that they occupied for a couple months of the year! Mr. Berwind did have a small bedroom, but he spared no expense to furnish it well. The fireplace in his bedroom is of ox-blood marble with gilt bronze mounts. The walls are covered in red silk and the carpet is a late 19th-century Khorassan. His private attached bathroom contains a sink of translucent white onyx.
The Elms – Mrs. Berwind’s Bedroom // 1899
On the second floor of The Elms mansion in Newport, you will find two separate bedrooms for the owners Edward and Sarah Berwind, a husband and wife of high society. The larger of the two bedrooms was for Mrs. Berwind as you know what they say, “happy wife, happy life”. Mrs. Berwind’s bedroom has cream-colored woodwork covered with custom-woven celadon green damask with borders of coordinated green, gold, and cream material. She had an adjoining bathroom and her chambers had access to her husband’s chamber along with a shared fireplace.
The Elms – Dining Room // 1899
The Dining Room of the Elms Mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, is represents the Gilded Age in all the best ways. The room sits just off the ballroom and like all of the other rooms in the summer residence of the Berwinds, it was designed by famed interior designer Jules Allard. The dining room was specifically to display a collection of early18th-century Venetian paintings purchased by Mr. Berwind from the Ca’ Corner estate in Venice (the Berwinds were avid collectors of 18th century French and Venetian paintings). The iconic coffered ceiling is not of wood, but of molded plaster, grained and painted to imitate oak. Each coffer is decorated with the winged lion of Saint Mark, the patron saint of Venice. Pour custom-made crystal chandeliers hang in the four corners of the room. At the end of the room is a stunning green marble, agate and onyx fireplace that is framed by a ceiling-high pediment supported by carved Ionic columns. Could you see yourself entertaining in this dining room?
The Elms – Library // 1899
Merry Christmas from Buildings of New England!
To celebrate, I wanted to feature the library aka the “red room” in the Elms Mansion in Newport, Rhode Island. The library is lined with high wainscoting and walls of inlaid walnut hung with red damask/fabric. The center table, fireplace mantel, and inlaid bookcases were all designed by Jules Allard, and the table in particular displays the exaggerated proportions and classical ornament typical of 16th-century French design. The mantel piece consists of white carved stone with the upper part of richly carved walnut. The room is one of the coziest in the Elms, one of the more refined and “homey” of the Newport Mansions open for tours. From this library, owner Edward Julius Berwind, would keep up with his growing businesses while away for summers in Newport.
The Elms – Stair and Gallery Hall // 1899
Immediately upon entering the main entrance of The Elms, one of the finest Gilded Age mansions in Newport, you are enveloped in the Stair Hall or foyer. The space is stunning, with walls lined in limestone and purple Breccia marble pilasters and columns with bronze capitals and bases. The floors are of white marble bordered in green with stairs in white Italian marble. At the beginning of the stairs, there are two large urns of green marble and pink granite, each with four bronze female figures. The urns bear the name of the decorator, Allard et Fils of Paris, who was responsible for crafting the details of the period rooms for the mansion. At the top of the first set of stairs is the Gallery Hall, a long hall connecting many rooms on the first floor and also serving as a gallery of irreplaceable art including two early 18th-century oil paintings depicting episodes in the history Scipio Africanus, the ancient Roman general who conquered Carthage by Venetian artists Paolo Pagani and Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini. The space is grand, yet cozy and feels more like a home than the larger Breakers mansion.
The Breakers – Music Room // 1895
You know you’ve “made it” if you have a music room, especially if you have one in your summer mansion in Newport! The Music Room in The Breakers evokes the opulent Parisian interiors of the Second Period and when inside the room, you just feel sensory overload (in the best way possible. The room is located off the Great Room and Morning Room, at the southern end of the house. The Music Room was used for recitals and dances for the Vanderbilt Family and guests. The room displays ornate woodwork and furnishings designed by Richard Van der Boyen and built by J. Allard of Paris. The room looks like it was plucked out of a French building and dropped into the mansion, and that is because it was! The room’s interior was constructed completely in France and then sent to America where it was installed at The Breakers by French craftsmen. My favorite parts of the interior are the bay window at the end and the gilt gold coffered ceiling.
The Breakers – Morning Room // 1895
Possibly my favorite room in The Breakers mansion is the Morning Room, found on the first floor, just off the Great Hall and lower loggia. The Morning Room is executed in a late Renaissance style and faces east to catch the morning sun and provides sweeping views of the Atlantic. It served as a family sitting room at all times of the day. The interior design, including the fixtures, woodworking, and furniture, were designed by French architect Richard Bouwens van der Boijen and designer Jules Allard. The predominant grey, and gold colors of the Morning Room are echoed in its fireplace which is made of Campan marble. On the walls, you will find the most stunning shimmering silver wall panels, depicting ancient Greek goddesses. It was originally believed that these features were silver leaf, but the Newport County Preservation Society investigated further, determining it is actually platinum! The Vanderbilts clearly wanted this room to shimmer with the sunrise, so the use of platinum, which never tarnishes, was a great solution!
The Breakers – Great Hall // 1895
Merry Christmas from The Breakers! This 1895 Gilded Age mansion is the best to explore during December, when the halls are decked and stunning Christmas trees adorn the lavish rooms (learn more about the mansion in my last post) When you walk into The Breakers, you enter the Great Hall. Architect Richard Morris Hunt designed the Great Hall after the open-air courtyards in Italian villas, but enclosed due to the tough New England winters. The palatial space (measuring 50 foot square), even if crowded by tourists trying to get the perfect shot on their smartphones, feels spacious yet somehow welcoming given the art museum-like detailing. The walls are made of carved limestone from Caen on the coast of France and adorned with plaques of rare marbles. Elaborately carved pilasters decorated with acorns and oak leaves support a massive carved and gilt-cornice which surrounds a ceiling painted to depict a windswept sky, further expressing the open-air courtyard feeling envisioned by Hunt, the architect. Four bronze chandeliers dangle from the gilded ceiling, and flood the room with warm light, evoking warm summers in Italy.