LUXURY HOMES

The history of the Breakers mansion in Newport, the Vanderbilt summer estate

Gilded Age mansions are a living reminder of a time long past when America’s richest families — like the Astors, Vanderbilts, Carnegies, and Rockefellers —

Photo credit: Elisa.rolle, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

used their sprawling estates to assert status and give everyone a visual representation of their vast family fortune.

Photo credit: xiquinhosilva, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

And nobody did it better than the Vanderbilt family.

The Vanderbilts were one of the nation’s wealthiest families, owing their fortune to Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, the 19th-century industrialist and railroad magnate.

The Vanderbilt star continues to shine bright in the public sphere, with Cornelius’s great, great, great-grandson, Anderson Cooper, who is a world-renowned journalist, author, and TV host.

But the Vanderbilt’s most long-lasting contribution comes in the form of the spectacular Gilded Age mansions they left behind. 

Among them are the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC, the Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park, NY, and the Vanderbilt family’s iconic summer estate, the Breakers mansion in Newport, RI. 

The Breakers mansion, a stately Beaux-Arts masterpiece that sits on a massive 13-acre estate, and fits 70 rooms in its imposing walls, is truly a home like no other.

Off-White Arrow

Photo credit: LEE SNIDER PHOTO IMAGES / Shutterstock.com

The original Breakers property was completed way back in 1878, and at the time, it was the crown jewel of Newport, Rhode Island.

The mansion was heavily damaged in an 1892 fire, but Cornelius Vanderbilt II swiftly rebuilt the property.

The second, much bigger version of The Breakers was completed in 1895, and it was undoubtedly the most opulent and most impressive estate in Newport – again.

Photo credit: Elisa.rolle, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The lavish interiors were designed by Jules Allard and Sons and Ogden Codman, in a style reminiscent of French chateaux like The Versailles.

Photo credit: xiquinhosilva, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The new estate featured 62,482 square feet of living space across a total of 70 rooms, set on a sprawling 14-acre oceanfront lot.

Photo credit: Renata3, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The opulent Gilded Age mansion is divided across five floors, and it’s easy to lose track of all the rooms in the house.

Photo credit: Renata3, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

After Cornelius Vanderbilt II died in 1899 at age 55, he left The Breakers to his wife, Alice Gwynne Vanderbilt.

After she herself passed, her youngest daughter, Countess Gladys Szechenyi, inherited the Newport summer ‘cottage.’

Photo credit: Rhonda McCloughan (Pr41799), CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

But Gladys soon became be the last Vanderbilt to live in the opulent mansion, selling the property  to The Preservation Society of Newport County in 1972. 

Photo credit: Elisa.rolle, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Swipe up to read the full history of this iconic estate, and how the Vanderbilts lost the right to step inside.               -->    SWIPE UP    <--

White Frame Corner