Newport Mansions – Newport, RI

The Breakers, Newport, Rhode Island

THE TRIP
Two week autumn driving tour of New England. Newport, RI. We toured the Newport Mansions for one day. The mansions included are The Breakers, Chateau-sur-Mer, The Elms, Marble House, Rosecliff, Green Animals, Kingscote, Hunter House, Isaac Bell House and Chepstow.

LOCATION
The Mansions are on Bellevue Avenue in the Ochre Point neighbourhood of Newport.

COLLECTION
The most well-known, The Breakers, was a summer cottage of the Vanderbilts at the turn of the century. The 70 room, Italian Renaissance-style palazzo is a National Historic Landmark. The decoration of the rooms is grandiose and extravagant but the highlight is the adorable children’s playhouse on the grounds.

The children's playhouse at The Breakers.

The children’s playhouse at The Breakers.

ADMISSION
Of the various options available, we chose the Newport Mansions Experience tour which gave access to 5 properties of our choice to visit at any time when the houses are open.

REFRESHMENT
As this is a residential area, the options for eating are limited. There is an ongoing proposal for limited food service by the Preservation Society. If you time your visit in September, Food & Wine presents the annual Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival.

OUTDOOR SPACE
It is a beautiful neighbourhood to walk between mansions but they are spread out. We chose to drive since on-street parking was available for each home. The Green Animals Topiary Garden in Portsmouth is available to tour. The larger homes have perfectly manicured grounds to wander as part of the tour.

The Isaac Bell House, Newport, Rhode Island

The Isaac Bell House, Newport, Rhode Island

MY FAVOURITE THINGS
The Isaac Bell House. Designed by New York architectural firm, McKim, Mead and White, it was an early example of the influence of arts and crafts design in America and the mesh of European and Japanese influence. As a work in progress, it was fascinating to witness the detective work which went into the reconstruction of the interior.

MOVIE LINKS
America’s Castles, The Newport Mansions – details the history of the homes and families.

An interesting article about Vanderbilt’s The Breakers.

Rhode Island School of Design Museum – Providence, RI

Rhode Island School of Design Museum

THE TRIP
Two week autumn driving tour of New England. Providence, RI is the home of one of the country’s best design schools, The Rhode Island School of Design, so it was a must to visit. The RISD Museum of art is high on my list of best design museums in the world. Serendipitously, we arrived during the annual RISD alumni fall art sale and purchased a lovely vase from this lovely guy (which included ten days of fretting about its safe return home).

LOCATION
Centrally located on the RISD campus in downtown Providence.

COLLECTION
As it’s origin was based on the education and production of industrial art, there is a great selection of decorative arts and textile pieces.  There is also a wonderful selection of work from contemporary artists, such as Lichtenstein and Warhol.

FREE ADMISSION
Every Sunday and third Thursday of each month (5-9 pm).

REFRESHMENT
RISD WORKS, located in the Chace Center lobby, offers a selection of sandwiches, drinks, and snacks. RISD Alumni Fall Art Sale had food trucks in attendance so we grabbed a few sandwiches. There seems to be a vast selection of restaurants a short jaunt across the river.

OUTDOOR SPACE
The Radeke Garden, an interior courtyard,  is open seasonally, from April to November.

MY FAVOURITE THINGS
The Pinzon Family, Oil on Canvas by Fernando Botero, Nancy Selvage, Oil on Canvas by Alice Neel, Balloon Dog, Porcelain by Jeff Koons, Newcomb College Pottery earthenware pitcher with tulip design.

MOVIE LINKS
Alice Neel Documentary – fascinating documentary about the unconventional female portraitist.

RISD Museum website
Museum map