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Newport Mansion: Marble House

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Marble House Mansion | Newport RI Attractions
Entrance to Marble House

Marble House is a Newport mansion built by a Vanderbilt captain of industry. The palatial vacation home helped transform a sleepy summer resort into a luxurious playground for America’s Gilded-Age capitalists. Today, the home is an historical museum, and touring it is one of the most interesting things to do in Newport, Rhode Island.

Grand Salon Hearth | Marble House | Newport RI Mansion Tour
Fire Place | Grand Salon | Marble House
Newport, RI Mansion | Marble Head Mansion At A Glance

For more information on vacation travel to Newport, RI read our articles on:

Marble House Bedroom | Mansion Tour | Newport Preservation Society
Bedroom | Marble House

LOGISTICS

Location: 596 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island

Museum Tours: Tours are self-guided (paper guide or free audio guide app). A children’s tour for visitors under 13 is also available. Plan for 45 minutes to 1 hours to tour the house and grounds.

Hours: Open for admission daily. In season – 10am to 5pm. Off season – 10am to 4pm.

Cost: Adults $20.00, Youth (6-17) $8.00. (Prices accurate as of post-date.)

Parking: Free off-street parking is available.

Special Events: Specialty tours of the house and grounds are available throughout the year. During the holidays the house is typically decorated for the season through January, 1st.

Second Floor Marble House | Mansion Tour | Newport RI Attractions
Second Floor Atrium & Marble Hallways

HISTORY OF MARBLE HOUSE

In 1888, William Vanderbilt commissioned Richard Morris Hunt to build a summer home for his family. The resulting 50-room Beau Arts manor was modeled after a palace in Versailles. Its rise incited a flurry of new villa-style “summer cottages” in Newport RI (including the Breakers Mansion built by William’s brother).

Library - Marble House | Newport Mansions | Newport Preservation Society
Library

At the time it was completed in 1892, the mansion was considered to be the most opulent in all of America. A massive exterior portico was evocative of the White House. Inside the mansion, around 7-million dollars was spent on African, Italian, and American marble.


The U-shaped “cottage” has 4-floors. There are service rooms in the basement, reception rooms on the ground floor, family bedrooms on the second floor, and servant quarters on the third floor. When the house opened, it employed some 33 servants to keep the Vanderbilt family comfortable.

William Vanderbilt's Bedroom | Marble House | Newport Mansion Tour
William Vanderbilt's Bedroom

William's wife, Alva Vanderbilt, held the deed to the house. It was a gift from William on her 39th birthday. Alva is said to have seen the property as her, “temple to the arts.” From the house’s Grand Salon, Alva positioned herself as a premiere Newport hostess, and launched the three Vanderbilt children into society.


When Alva and William divorced in 1895, Alva remarried (and moved down the street). Upon the death of her second husband, Alva reopened Marble House and built the famous Chinese Tea House at the edge of the ocean. From the Tea House, she hosted women’s suffrage protests and rallies.

Alva Vanderbilt's Portrait | Marble House | Newport Mansion Tour
Alva Vanderbilt's Portrait

In 1932, Alva moved to Paris where she lived the remainder of her life. Before she died, she sold Marble House to Frederick Prince. The Prince family owned the home for more than 30 years, and then sold the mansion to the Newport Preservation Society. In 2006, the house was designated as a National Historic Landmark.


Many films and television shows have used the present-day historical museum (Marble House) as a filming location. It has appeared in 3-films, The Great Gatsby, Amistad, and 27 Dresses as well as The Buccaneers TV miniseries and a Victoria’s Secret commercial.

Gothic Room Hearth | Marble House | Newport RI Attractions
Gothic Room Hearth

MANSION MAIN ROOMS

Stair Hall & Marble Hallway

The doors to the main entryway at Marble House historical museum are adorned with the letters “WV,” and weigh around 1.5 tons each. Visitors enter the Stair Hall. The two-story room is bathed in amber marble. It is set off by a grand staircase and French doors that let in the light. On the ceiling there is a painting of classical Gods and Goddesses.


The corridors surrounding the Stair Hall are made of Italian marble and decorated with elaborate molding, sconces, paintings, sculpture, and other artwork.

Marble House Stair Hall | Mansion Tour | Newport RI Things To Do
Stair Hall Marble House

Dining Room

The stately dining room is swathed in shades of rose, red, and gold. Much of the rose marble throughout the room was imported from Algeria. The ceiling has a mural of an 18th century hunting and fishing scene. The fireplace is a replica of one at the Palace of Versailles.

Marble House Mansion | Dining Room | Newport RI Things To Do
Dining Room

Gothic Room

Entering the Gothic Room, cathedral-like stained glass windows frame the space. The parlor was a space to display the family’s treasures, including Alva's collection of Medieval and Renaissance objects. The fireplace was copied from the Palais Jacques Coeur in Bourges, France. The Gothic room is quite unique, and part of what makes Marble Head such a great Newport, RI attraction.

Gothic Room | Marble House | Newport RI Mansion Museum Tour
Stained Glass & Display Cases | Gothic Room

Grand Salon

The Grand Salon was the ultimate Gilded-Age show place. The walls were covered in carved wood and gold-gilt panels embellished in mythological scenes. The space was warmed with green silk and velvet upholstery. The ceiling, portraying Minerva, was modeled after the Queen’s bedroom at Versailles. The room was used for balls, concerts, and receptions.


In July of 1957, Tiffany and Company used the Grand Salon for their Tiffany Ball. The ball was held to benefit the Preservation Society of Newport. Guests included (then) Senator John F. Kennedy, and his wife, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy as well as many other scions of society.

Grand Salon | Marble House | Newport RI Mansions
Grand Salon

Library

Carved walnut was used to build the walls and bookshelves of the library / morning room. The morning room was a place for the lady of the house to organize herself for the day. It was also a space for the family to gather during the daylight hours to read and socialize.

Library | Marble House Mansion | Newport RI Attractions
Library

Bedrooms

As you climb the Grand Staircase to the second floor on the home, the corridors and hallways between bedrooms are some of the grandest spaces in the home.

Alva Vanderbilt's Bedroom | Marble House | Newport Mansion Museum Tour
Alva Vanderbilt's Bedroom

On the second floor of Marble House, you will find the bedrooms of William, Alva, and their children.

Alva’s bedroom is decorated in the style of Louis XIV. On the circular ceiling there is a mural of Athena (copied from a library in Venice).


On the second level, there is a room dedicated to the family’s yachting trophies.

Trophy Room Marble House | Newport RI Things To Do
Trophy Room

Kitchen

The tour takes visitors from the second floor down a winding staircase to the basement of the home where the kitchen and other service areas were housed. The kitchen was used to feed the family and guests. It was not unusual for the kitchen to produce meals for hundreds of people at a time.

Marble House Kitchen | Mansion Tour Newport RI
Kitchen

Gift Shop and Grounds

As you leave the kitchen area, the tour goes through a gift shop and out a side door of the mansion. Take time to walk the grounds. The back yard leads to ocean cliffs, and the famous Newport Chinese Tea House. Originally located near the cliffs, the Tea House was later moved further back on the property. In the Chinese Tea House, Alva Vanderbilt organized for the women's right to vote.

Marble House Gift Shop | Newport RI Mansion Tour
Marble House Gift Shop

Cheerio! Laura and Randy

For more information on vacation travel to Newport, RI read our articles on:


Chinese Tea House at Marble House | Chinese Tea House Newport
Chinese Tea House at Marble House





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