A Weekend in Rhode Island and Massachusetts
We had quite a fun and historical two days in the states of Rhode Island and Massachusetts last weekend. Let me share with you the places we’ve visited as well as some facts and trivia I have gathered.
44 Ochre Point Avenue, Newport, R.I.
This National Historic Landmark was commissioned by Railroad tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt of the famous United States Vanderbilt family in 1893. This summer “cottage” has a total of 70 rooms with a gross area of 125,339 square feet and 62,482 square feet of living area on all five floors. Architect Richard Morris Hunt directed an international team of craftsmen and artisans to help create this Italian Renaissance- style palazzo inspired by the 16th century palaces of Genoa and Turin. Believe it or not, they were able to finish construction in just under two years. To this day, The Breakers remain the grandest and considered the crown jewel of Newport’s mansions.
The “backyard” is just as marvelous and grand as the inside.
548 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, R.I.
Just walking outside this magnificent mansion makes one imagine lavish parties with men and women in regal suits and ball gowns. Indeed, the Rosecliff was the setting of early 20th century Newport's most extravagant dinner parties and entertainments. Commissioned in 1899 by Nevada silver Heiress Theresa Fair Oelrichs, architect Stanford White’s design for Rosecliff was inspired by the Grand Trianon - the garden retreat of French Kings at Versailles. At a reported cost of $2.5 million, the house was completed in 1902. Fabulous was an understatement for the entertainments Mrs. Oelrichs hosted in Rosecliff, which includes a fairy tale dinner and a party featuring non other than the most famous magicians of all time Harry Houdini.
Rosecliff was also the setting of the 1974 film The Great Gatsby as well as Katherine Heigl’s 27 Dresses (which I love).
The tour of the house wasn’t as long and extensive as The Breakers but there was also an exhibit when we visited.
And here’s the view from the back. Apparently, you can also rent the place as a venue for your special events. When we visited, a wedding is about to take place in the afternoon. Imagine getting married here, you’ll literally feel like you’re in a fairy tale setting.
To cap off our afternoon touring mansions, we trailed down the famous Cliff Walk - one of the must-see attractions in Newport, R.I. This is not your typical walk in the park as it combines the natural beauty of the shore and the refreshing breeze with the historic architecture of the Newport mansions. Cliff Walk is a National Recreation Trail in a National Historic District.
Thames Street, Newport, RI 02840
The best part of this trip for me was exploring Newport's downtown area. I've read a lot of books as a young girl and some of them were set in small towns near the waterfront area. Visiting this place transported me back to those times and made me feel like I was living in a book. The streets were lined on both sides with seemingly endless bars, alley pubs, shops with pretty fronts, restaurants, and historic homes. You can imagine how lively the nightlife is here. You will also find museums, antique shops, bed and breakfasts, marinas and public access points to Newport Harbor. The only struggle we had was of course, finding a place to park. It's easy to spend an entire afternoon here, just exploring the shops, the food, and walking along the waterfront watching the yacht-filled harbor.
If you are a fan of the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, then this National Historic Landmark is a must see if ever you will be visiting the state of Massachusetts. The pond is protected as part of Walden Pond State Reservation, a 335-acre state park and recreation site. A large part of the pond's shore are beach, while other parts sharply descend to the water from trails circling the pond.
The school not needing any introduction, Harvard University is a private and one of the most prestigious Ivy League research university in the world. The main campus is a 209-acre yard about 3 miles west-northwest of downtown Boston. One distinct building was the Widener Library which was a tribute to Harry Elkins Widener, a 27-year-old Philadelphia businessman and book collector who had graduated from Harvard College in 1907, who tragically tied in the sinking of the legendary Titanic. Harry’s mother, Eleanor Elkins donated $2 million to the construction of the Widener Widener Memorial Library. As a bookworm, I loved the Harvard Bookstore - a locally owned, independently run Cambridge landmark since 1932.