Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Mansions & Gardens of Newport Rhode Island: The Elms and The Breakers

Newport Mansions & Gardens

The Elms
I recently returned from a second visit to the Newport mansions and the beauty and history behind these magnificent estates is astonishing.    In a previous post I shared a visit to the Marble House and tour along the infamous Newport Cliff Walk.  Follow along with me as we visit the Elms which is known for its majestic gardens and the Breakers which is known for being one of the largest of the Newport mansions.
The Elms (Back)

The Elms was the former summer retreat of businessman Edward Julius Berwind, founder of the Berwind-White Coal Mining Company, and his wife Herminie.  Mr. Berwind made his fortune in the Pennsylvania coal industry and in 1898 the Berwinds hired architect Horace Trumbauer to design the Elms modeled after a mid eighteenth century French Chateau outside of Paris.  Construction was completed in 1901 at a cost of approximately 1.4 million dollars.  The beautiful Classical Revival gardens at the home were developed between the years of 1907 and 1914 and include specimen trees, a massive lower garden, fountains, marble pavilions, a sunken garden and carriage house.  When Mrs. Berwind passed in 1922, Mr. Berwind invited his sister Julia to act as a hostess at both his New York and Newport homes until his death in 1936.    Julia then continued to spend summers at The Elms until her death in 1961 and the mansion was put up for public auction. The Preservation Society of Newport purchased The Elms in 1962 and opened it to the public.   It is now designated as a National Historic Landmark.
The Elms Classical Revival Gardens (Lower Level)
The Elms Marble & Bronze Fountain
The Elms (Front Entry)
The Elms Back Gardens on Great Lawn
The Elms Lower Gardens and Pavilion
150 Year Old European Copper Beech Tree ~ Fagus sylvatica ‘Cuprea’
Family:  Fagaceae
Height 50-60 feet and Spread 35-45 feet
Zones 4-7
Native to Europe
The Breakers
The Breakers is the former summer residence of Cornelius Vanderbilt II, grandson of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt. Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt built the family fortune in the steamship industry and later in the New York Central Railroad and grandson Cornelius Vanderbilt II later became Chairman and President of the New York Central Railroad system in 1885. The Breakers is the largest of the Newport mansions consisting of 70 rooms including a two and a half story Great Hall and Morning Room. Cornelious Vanderbilt II purchased the original wooden structure that was destroyed by fire in 1892 and hired architect Richard Morris Hunt in 1893 to design an Italian-Renaissance style palazzo. The Vanderbilts had seven children and youngest daughter Gladys inherited the house in 1934. She opened The Breakers in 1934 to raise funds for the Newport Preservation Society and when she passed the home was purchased by the Preservation Society in 1972 and declared a Historic Landmark.   
The Breakers
The Breakers Entry
The Breakers Gardens
The Breakers Side Entry
The Breakers Great Lawn
I hope you have enjoyed the tour of the Newport Mansions and gardens.   Thanks to the Preservation Society of Newport County these magnificent mansions that are part of our national heritage will remain historical landmarks that can be enjoyed by all. I also visited the Green Animal Topiary Garden which is one of the oldest topiary gardens in North America.  I will dedicate an entire future post to these magnificent and fascinating gardens of Newport.
As Always...Happy Gardening!
Author: Lee@A Guide To Northeastern Gardening, Copyright 2013. All rights reserved


  1. I lived in Rhode Island for a while and the extravagance there is amazing. Lovely images of all that wealth.

  2. WOW!! The buildings and gardens look very European. Gorgeous architecture and luscious gardens - thanks for the tour!

  3. Loved the pictures of the mansions in Rhode Island. I'll have to make a trip up there one of these days to visit them as well. After viewing your blog I'll have to put that higher up on my bucket list.


Thank you for visiting. I love reading your comments and knowing you have been here, and will try to reciprocate on your blog. If you have any questions I will try my very best to answer them. As always...HAPPY GARDENING!


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