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Newport Mansion: The Breakers

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The Breakers Mansion | Newport Rhode Island Attractions
The Breakers Mansion

Looking for the top attractions in Newport, Rhode Island? The Breakers is the most magnificent of the Newport mansions. Touring the Gilded-Age “summer cottage” is a Newport, RI travel itinerary top thing to do.

Music Room Sitting Alcove | Breakers Mansion Newport Rhode Island
Music Room Sitting Alcove

For more information on traveling to Newport, Rhode Island, read our articles on:

Great Room | The Breakers Mansion | Newport RI Things To Do
The Great Room Entryway


  • Location: 44 Ochre Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island

  • Tours: Tours are self-guided (paper guide or free audio guide) downloaded onto smart phone. 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 $28.00, Youth (6-17) $8.00. See website (LINK) for membership information and deals (multi-house passes). (Prices accurate as of post-date.)

  • Parking: Free onsite (across the street from the mansion)

  • Special Events: Specialty tours of the house and grounds are available throughout the year. During the holidays the house is decorated for the season and the grounds are strung with lights.

 Kitchen | Breakers Mansion Tour | Newport RI
Kitchen | Breakers Mansion

History of the Breakers Mansion

The Vanderbilt family made their fortune in transportation. Cornelius Vanderbilt, II, President of the New York Central Railroad, purchased an ocean-front summer home in 1885. The wooden structure was called the Breakers because of the sound of the waves crashing on the cliffs in the backyard. Seven years after purchasing the house, it burned to the ground. Cornelius II and his wife, Alice, commissioned Richard Morris Hunt to design a replacement.

Gallery | Breakers Mansion Tour | Newport RI Attractions

Inspiration for the summer home was drawn from 16th century Italian Renaissance palaces. Ground broke on the new structure in 1893. It took Hunt, and a team of master craftsmen, two years to complete the 70-room home (33 for servants). The 138, 300 square foot structure came in at a cost of 12 million dollars (around 331 million today).

Writing Table | Breakers Mansion | Newport RI Things To Do
Writing Table & Family Photos

The palazzo-style home had 15 fireplaces, marble floors, and gold leaf paint. It was filled with priceless sculptures, paintings, and tapestries from around the world. The massive front doors weighed around 1000-pounds each. The 12-acre lot was landscaped with rare flowers, shrubs, and trees.

Library | Breakers Mansion Tour | Newport RI Attractions
Library | Breakers Mansion Tour

Richard Morris Hunt had built Cornelius, Alice, and their 7-children a home that reflected the family’s immense wealth and power in American society, business, and culture. The opulence of the house became a symbol of the family’s standing (and the great income disparities of the Gilded-Age). Touring the house is a must-see attraction on a Newport, RI vacation itinerary.

Formal Rooms 1st Floor | The Breakers | Newport Mansion Tour
Formal Rooms 1st Floor

Mansion Main Rooms

Great Hall

Measuring 50 x 50 feet, the Great Hall is the home’s largest room. It was designed to look like an outdoor courtyard with expansive windows and doors. The two-story ceiling is covered with a mural of the sky. The painting, and many other details throughout the home, include images of oak leaves and acorns which were Vanderbilt symbols of strength and longevity.

Great Room Sky Mural | The Breakers Mansion | Newport RI
Great Room Sky Mural

In August of 1895, Alice and Cornelius II hosted their first social engagement in the Great Hall. It was a midnight dance honoring their daughter, Gertrude. One can picture Gertrude descending the room’s Grand Staircase. It is also fun to think about the other Vanderbilt children riding silver trays down the red carpet (as they were known to do). Behind the Grand Staircase, there is a sitting alcove with a whimsical fountain and pool of water. The opulence of the home and family stories make the museum (mansion) a great Newport attraction to tour.

Grand Staircase | Breakers Mansion, Newport RI
Grand Staircase

Dining Room

The dining room has 12 rose-colored columns that frame a ceiling with a painting of the goddess Aurora. Throughout the French-inspired room harvest images of fruits and vegetables abound. There are two ornate chandeliers, and a series of wall sconces that were equipped for electricity and gas.

Dining Room | Breakers Mansion | Newport RI Attractions
Formal Dining Room

Billiard Room

The Roman-bath inspired Billiard Room is dominated by a large pool table with a bronze light fixture hanging over it. The room is filled with mahogany furniture and Tiffany sconces. The floor is covered with hand-laid marble mosaic tiles. Fun fact: This room was recently featured on Julian Fellowes HBO show, The Gilded Age (as was the Music Room).

Billiards Room | The Breakers Mansion | Newport RI Best Things To Do
Billiards Room

Morning Room

The morning room was a sitting room for general family use. The room is designed in the late Renaissance style with elaborate mythological carvings and paintings. In this room, you will find paintings of Cornelius Vanderbilt II and his youngest daughter, Gladys.

Morning Room | The Breakers Mansion | Newport RI
Morning Room

Countess Gladys (Vanderbilt) Szedchenyi inherited the Breakers from her mother, Alice, in 1934. Gladys went on to be a major benefactor in the preservation of the Breakers Mansion, and many other mansions and colonial homes in Newport, Rhode Island.

Hearth | The Breakers Mansion | Newport RI
Hearth | The Breakers Mansion

Music Room

The luxurious French Baroque interior of the Music Room was reminiscent of the Paris Opera House. The fine room was used for many formal occasions such as weddings, concerts, and receptions. The sumptuous setting glitters with gold and silver leaf, imported marble, mirrors, and crystal light fixtures. The ceiling painting is an ode to great musical composers. The furniture and design elements of this room (and the Morning Room) were built in France, and shipped to the United States for assembly.

Music Room | Newport RI Breakers Mansion Tour
Music Room


The regal Library is dominated by a 16th century fireplace that was imported from France. The walnut panels of the sprawling room are intricately etched with classical figures and layered silver, gold and green paint. A dolphin design on the ceiling celebrates hospitality and the sea (a motif repeated throughout the house).

Library Breakers Mansion | Newport RI 1 Day Itinerary


Compared to the lavishness of the ground floor, the bedrooms on the second level of the main house are somewhat subdued. On the tour, you will view the comfortable and elegant bedrooms of Cornelius II, Alice, Gertrude, and Glady.

Mrs. Vanderbilt's Bedroom | Breakers Mansion Newport RI
Mrs. Vanderbilt's Bedroom

As you pass through the rooms you will see evidence of intercoms and call buttons that were used to summon the staff. Women of the era performed several costume changes throughout the day and there are large closets and baths attached to the upstairs living quarters.

Dressing Table | Bedroom | Breakers Mansion Tour | Newport RI
Dressing Table | Breakers Bedroom

Curiously, none of the bedrooms have great ocean views. Since the ocean provided only a black expense at night, the bedrooms were built facing the gardens and lawns. Across the back of the home, a long first floor terrace and second floor veranda were used to enjoy the ocean-view during the day.

Bedroom Settee | Breakers Mansion Tour | Newport RI
Bedroom Settee

Above the floor of bedrooms included on the Breakers tour, there are two more floors (not viewed). They house 8 additional family bedrooms, and 33 servant bedrooms.

 Mr. Vanderbilt's Bedroom | Newport RI Breakers Mansion
Mr. Vanderbilt's Bedroom

Kitchen & Butler Pantry

To reduce the spread of fire, the house was designed with brick and steel construction. In addition, the boiler room was placed under the lawn away from the house, and the kitchen was constructed in a separate wing.

Large cast iron ovens and stoves run along one wall of the kitchen. A center island is zinc-topped and copper pots hang from the work station. Next to the kitchen is a 2-story butler’s pantry. The family’s dinnerware, crystal, and cutlery were stored there. The room was used as a final staging area to put the finishing touches on foods prepared in the kitchen.

Cast Iron Ovens & Copper Pots | Kitchen Breakers Mansion Newport RI
Cast Iron Ovens & Copper Pots

Gift Shop & Grounds

From the kitchen area, guests exit the mansion via the gift shop. There are tons of fun things to buy here!

When you are done touring the home, stroll the grounds. After, find the Newport Cliff Walk at the edge of the lawn and enjoy a spectacular ocean walk.

Gift Shop | Breakers Mansion | Newport RI Attractions
Gift Shop

Cheers! Laura and Randy

For more information on traveling to Newport, Rhode Island, read our articles on:

Painting & Sculptures | Newport RI Breakers Mansion Tour
Painting & Sculptures


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