touring the newport mansions

Posted: November 26, 2009 in Travel Diary
Tags: ,

a sculpture outside the Breakers

Last Sunday, I drove with my cousin Gerard and Charlene and his wife Juniper and other relatives on their father’s side to Rhode Island just to tour the Newport Mansions. It was fun being a tourist for a day.

What I really am amazed about is finally seeing the exteriors and interiors of real 18th French and Italian architecture of these mansions; historical remnants of the opulence and excessive lifestyle of the  gilded age that Henry James so deplored. The famous novelist once wrote about these mansions as “white elephants,” yet anthropologists and architecture historians defended these structures as evidence or traces of a history that give us a glimpse into the understanding of human civilization particularly in the evolution of American society.

the Breakers

A perfect example of a much contested structure is the Breakers owned by the Vanderbilts who had a daughter who later founded the Whitney Museum. Architects and art historians often debated on the architectural merit of such mansion. Early on some architects called the mansion as an example of bad architecture with its very lavish and loud interiors that the Italians are known for, while later on, other architects said it’s a well-designed mansion.

Whatever is true as of the moment didn’t matter to me. Beneath the grandeur of it all, I am always reminded as I walk through the mansion’s halls, a part of history that these houses often hide. The slaves who helped run it.

*FYI: We were not allowed to take pictures of the mansions’ interiors. So I only got to shoot the facade and the lawns. 🙂 Bummer. Anyway if you need to see more pictures of my Rhode Island trip, just visit my flickr account: or

i forgot the name of this mansion

part of the lamp post. this one gave me the creeps

one of the doors of the Breakers

the lampost outside the Breakers

  1. leicia says:

    the lampost i appreciate, baroque/rocc0co+gothic combined! 🙂

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