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Tour a Mansion, Newport, Rhode Island

An example of a magnificent mansion you may tour in Newport is Marble House, one of Newport’s great homes of the gilded age. Here you may delight in one of the first Beaux-Arts structures in the United States and its lavish styling. No trip to Newport would be complete without this or one of the many other famous mansions on this bus tour.

The Marble House Mansion was built between 1888 and 1892 for Mr. and Mrs. William K. Vanderbilt. It was a social and architectural landmark that set the pace for Newport’s subsequent transformation from a quiet summer colony of wooden houses to the legendary resort of opulent stone mansions. 

Chinese Tea House at Marble House Mansion

Chinese Tea House at Marble House Mansion

Inside of Marble House Mansion

Inside of Marble House Mansion

Outside of Marble House Mansion

Outside of Marble House Mansion

Chinese Tea House at Marble House Mansion Chinese Tea House at Marble House Mansion
Inside of Marble House Mansion Inside of Marble House Mansion
Outside of Marble House Mansion Outside of Marble House Mansion

Visiting a Rhode Island Mansion

If your tour includes Marble House, you will experience a self-guided tour of the Mansion, where you will journey through a world of exceptional elegance and let architecture, art, interior design and landscapes inspire you. Whichever Mansion your tour includes you will be sure to enjoy similar spectacular features and history as described below.

Architecture

Inspired by the Petit Trianon on the grounds at Palace of Versailles, the Marble House was built with 500,000 cubic feet of marble. Designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt, it was one of the first Beaux-Arts structures in the United States. While the U-shaped building appears to be a two-story structure, it is actually spread over four levels. The Kitchen and service areas are located on the basement level, reception rooms on the ground floor, bedrooms on the second floor and servant quarters on the hidden uppermost floor.

Interior Design

Mr. Vanderbilt’s wife Alva Vanderbilt was a leading hostess in Newport society and envisioned Marble House as her “temple to the arts” in America. As you explore the Vanderbilt’s 50-room mansion, Alva Vanderbilt’s vision will unfold before your eyes.

Marble House Entrance

As you enter the mansion, its French Baroque-style doors will amaze you. Made at the John Williams Bronze Foundry in New York, each of the two doors weighs a ton and a half. The doors are embellished by the monogram “WV” and set in an oval medallion.

The Stair Hall

Pass through the French Baroque-style doors and enter into the Stair Hall, a two-story room that features walls and a grand staircase of yellow Siena marble, with a wrought iron and gilt-bronze staircase railing. As you look up gods and goddesses of an 18th-century Venetian painting adorn the ceiling.

The Grand Salon

From the Stair Hall make your way into the Grand Salon. Designed by Allard and Sons, the Grand Salon served as a ballroom and reception room. Decked in green silk cut velvet upholstery and draperies and with wood carved and gold gilt panels, the Grand Salon is designed in the Louis XIV style.

The Gothic Room

This Gothic Revival-style room, the Gothic Room, was designed to display Mrs. Vanderbilt’s collection of Medieval and Renaissance decorative objects. Dominating the room is the stone fireplace copied by Allard and Sons to look like the one in the Jacques Coeur House in Bourges, France.

The Library

Off the Gothic Room is the Library which was once used as the Vanderbilt’s morning room and library.  Notable for its Late Baroque-style, its doors and bookcases have been carved in walnut.

The Dining Room

The Dining Room is decorated in pink Numidian marble and glit-bronze capitals and trophies. Its fireplace like other pieces throughout the Newport mansion is a replica of a fireplace that sits in the Salon d'Hercule at the Palace of Versailles. Look up to admire the painted hunting and fishing motif with an 18th-century French ceiling at its center.

Mrs. Vanderbilt’s Bedroom

Make your way to the second floor of the Marble House for a look at Mrs. Vanderbilt’s Bedroom. Like the Grand Salon, the bedroom is in the Louis XIV style. The highlight of the room is the ceiling painting of Athena. Created by Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini around 1721, the piece came from the library of the Palazzo Pisani Moretta in Venice.

The Chinese Tea House

Once you’ve explored the Newport Mansion wander the manicured lawns, enjoy the ocean breeze and don’t forget to stop by the picturesque, lavishly-decorated Chinese pavilion. Overlooking the brilliance of the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Marble House on its other, the Chinese Tea House was commissioned by Alva Vanderbilt in 1912 and opened in 1914. While painstakingly restored during the 1980s, you can still stop by the Chinese Tea House today where lunch and snacks are often served.  

Travel Tips

-The Marble House is partially accessible by wheelchair. 

-The Chinese Tea House at Marble House is open for lunch and snacks between the months of May and October. 

Please note that while many tours may visit Marble House, some may include a different Newport Mansion so the details can vary.