Woodbine Cottage // 1873

George Champlin Mason (1820-1894) can be credited as one of the most influential people who helped make Newport what it is today. He was born in the old Colonial town in 1820 and after a brief period working in New York City in dry goods, he traveled to Europe in his twenties to study art in Rome, Paris, and Florence, specializing in landscape paintings. Mason spent the 1840s trying unsuccessfully to make a living as landscape painter and published Newport and Its Environs, a collection of 11 engravings of his landscape views of Newport that is one of the earliest books about Newport to showcase its potential as a vacation destination. In 1851, Mason switched professions and became part owner and editor of the Newport Mercury newspaper. He often wrote on architectural subjects. In around 1858, he took his love for art and architecture and became an architect/developer, just as Newport was seeing early stages of development as a summer colony. He was hired by some early summer residents to design their homes, and did not disappoint, gaining notoriety all over the northeast. His son George C. Mason, Jr. (1849-1924), followed in his father’s footsteps and is said to have been the first professional architectural preservationist in the United States. George Sr., built this house as his primary residence in 1873, a stunning and rare example of Swiss Chalet architecture in New England, notable for the use of pierced bargeboards, board-and-batten sheathing, and cut-out railings. The property also included a charming stone English Revival tower in the rear yard, built in the 21st century as a workshop for the previous owners. How cool!

“Snug Harbor” – Charles H. Baldwin Cottage // 1877

One of the finest Queen Anne style residences New England is this 1877 summer cottage, named “Snug Harbor”. The mansion was designed by architects William Appleton Potter and Robert Henderson Robertson for Charles H. Baldwin, a prominent admiral in the United States Navy. The design utilizes a brick first floor with shingle siding above, a high cross-gabled roof, panels and half-timbering, asymmetrical form, and a porte cochere at the entry. Later owner Arakel Bozyan, painted the entire exterior a deep red color and renamed the house “Gamir Doon”, Armenian for “Red House”. The house was restored back to a traditional color scheme and sold in 2020. The interiors are STUNNING!

Berkeley House // 1885

In 1885, a 28-year-old Leroy King (1857-1895) and his wife Ethel Rhinelander King (1857-1925) hired one of the country’s most prominent architects, Stanford White, to design a Newport home for their family. Leroy was the son of Edward King, a prominent local merchant, and upon his fathers death in 1875, inherited some of the $100+million dollar fortune he had amassed in today’s dollars. The corner lot at Bellevue and Berkeley avenues was purchased and work was underway on the new mansion. The house is a really interesting take on the Shingle style, but instead of cedar shingle siding, employs fireproof construction. A central hall, large gabled masses, picturesque window arrangements, and a spectrum of surface textures (here conveyed largely in natural stone and brick with flourishes of shingle and pebble dash work), align this house with McKim, Mead & White’s earlier efforts in this style. The interior has been meticulously preserved and maintained by the owners.

The Elms – Sitting Room // 1899

The formal Sitting Room at the Elms in Newport, Rhode Island is one of the many statement-rooms found in the Gilded Age mansion. This room is located directly above the Ballroom and is the first space seen when ascending the main staircase onto the second floor. The sitting room was used by the Berwind Family and their guests as a gathering and socializing space, a little less formal than the ballroom downstairs for more elegant events. The Preservation Society of Newport County has done an amazing job at restoring the building and purchasing furniture and fixtures that were sold off when much of the inside of the property was sold off at auction in the 1960s. The Preservation Society restored the red silk walls fabric in the 1980s, bringing the space back to its original grandeur. I cannot think of a better place to just “sit”.

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

Stair Hall

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.

Gallery Hall

Belair Stable // c.1875

Just past the Belair Gate Lodge (1870), you w5ll find one of the most eclectic and interesting buildings in Newport, Rhode Island. This structure was built around 1875 as the stable to the larger Belair estate, just a stone’s throw away. When it was built, local papers stated the building was “probably one of the most expensive stables in the city.” It was designed by Newport architect Dudley Newton at the same time he redesigned the main mansion and furnished plans for the new gate lodge for owner George H. Norman. Architecturally, there is A LOT going on here. The 1½-story, rough-face-granite-ashlar building is capped by a hexagonal-tile slate mansard roof. On the left is an octagonal tower with an out-of-scale roof pitch and at the other side of the carriage door is a circular-plan tower with battlemented parapet. At the center is a really unique trefoil gable with trefoil window centered within. So cool to stumble upon this!! Oh, and it’s now a single-family home. Swoon.

Belair Gate Lodge // 1870

Located at the historic entry to Belair (last post), one of the largest estates in Newport, you would be greeted by this charming stone building, the Belair Gate Lodge. The building is symmetrically massed, 1½-story and built of rough-face-granite-ashlar, similar to the main house. This building can be classified as French Eclectic in style and was designed by Newport architect Dudley Newton, who also designed the 1870 Second Empire renovations to the main house at the same time for owner George Henry Norman. When the Belair estate was subdivided, the gate lodge was sold off as a separate unit, and is now a single family home, aka my dream home. There is something so enchanting about gatehouses!

Belair Mansion // 1850

One of the most stunning summer “cottages” in Newport, Rhode Island is this stone behemoth named “Belair”. The house is set back way off the street and was one of the first summer estates built in this section of Newport. Belair was built in 1850 for New York oil baron H. Allen Wright in the Italianate style and constructed of roughly dressed stone and was originally about half of the size of the current footprint. The mansion was designed by architect Seth C. Bradford, who is also credited as architect of the similarly designed Chateau-sur-Mer, built one year later. Wright sold this house to George H. Norman two years after its completion. Norman (1827-1900), founded the Newport Daily News in 1848 and made his fortune as an engineer, first establishing gas works and later water works systems across New England, New York, and the Midwest. Norman made a fortune, and renovated and expanded his mansion in 1870 from plans by Newport architect Dudley Newton, with grand Second Empire additions, including the high convex-mansard corner tower. The original four acre Belair property has been extensively subdivided, and this house now occupies a lot of about an acre; with the original outbuildings sold off, and Belair is now 11 condominium units!