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25 Photos of the Luxurious Breakers Best Mansion in Newport

Photos of the Luxurious Breakers Best Mansion in Newport

Newport, Rhode Island is one of our favorite vacation escapes, especially in the summer. And one of many joys of this seaside resort town is the numerous historic and beautiful Gilded Age mansions that are open to the public for visits (at least they were until COVID-19 struck). If you’d like to experience what the attraction is, read on. And take a virtual tour with 25 of our photos of the luxurious and historic Breakers mansion in Newport, including the interior of the house and its surrounding gardens.

Majestic mansions are part of the lure of Newport, Rhode Island

There are many good reasons to escape to Newport for a long weekend – the charming town, the beaches, the sailing, the food and drink. Even the shopping is better than you might expect. But for some, it’s all about the mansions.

Newport is renowned for its numerous 19th and early 20th century summer “cottages,” which were built by many of the country’s wealthiest families, and represent some of the finest examples of residential architecture of the era.

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It’s amusing (or maybe infuriating?) that these grand homes weren’t even the primary residences of their owners. Most were occupied only for the summer, after which the families would return to palatial residences in New York or Boston.

Photos from a tour of the Breakers mansion in Newport, Rhode Island.

Photos from a tour of the Breakers mansion in Newport, Rhode Island.

Still, if you can put your opinions about capitalism, class and privilege aside for an hour or so, there’s a lot of fun to be had visiting these majestic homes. Imagining the parties, the frocks, the flowers and the swanky cocktails is a lovely daydream. Architecture aficionados will find lots to see and learn about. And the people-watching is first rate.

Are you in? Then come along, dear reader.

if you tour one Newport mansion, make it The Breakers

If you can only visit one of these historic and iconic mansions when you’re in town, make it The Breakers. It’s a spectacular experience, and will give you a visceral sense of life during the Gilded Age that would be hard to achieve any other way.

The Breakers is a four-story mansion built by Cornelius Vanderbilt II and his wife Alice as a summer home. Located on 14 acres on Ochre Point Avenue, the cliff-side site provides a stunning view of the coastline. Because of its rich history and architectural importance, the house is designated a National Historic Landmark.

Photos from a tour of the Breakers mansion in Newport, Rhode Island.

Photo Credit: Dandelion Chandelier.

Chairman and President of the New York Central Railroad system, Cornelius Vanderbilt II was the grandson of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, who built the family’s fortune first in steamships and later in the railroad business.

Our photos from a tour of the Breakers mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, including the house and gardens

The Breakers is by far the most opulent of Newport’s mansions, intentionally designed to stand as a marker of the Vanderbilt family’s superior social and financial status. (Historians note that Vanderbilt’s younger brother William and his wife Alva built Marble House on nearby Bellevue Avenue – it reigned supreme as the best home in Newport until the Breakers was built). Nothing like sibling rivalry to get a good real estate competition going.

Our photos from a tour of the Breakers mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, including the house and gardens

Our photos of the Breakers mansion in Newport, Rhode Island. Credit: Dandelion Chandelier.

In 1893, Richard Morris Hunt won the commission to build a new villa on the site of a mansion that was destroyed by fire in the previous year. It’s worth noting that just as this project began, Vanderbilt II was finishing an expansion of his Fifth Avenue mansion, which made it the largest private home in New York City’s history.

Photos of the Luxurious Breakers Mansion in Newport

The Exterior

The imposing façade of The Breakers is made of brick faced with Indiana limestone. Because of the effort of 2,000 workers who toiled in both day and night shifts, the 70-room, 125,000 square foot Italian Renaissance- style palazzo took only 2 years to complete.

Our photos from a tour of the Breakers mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, including the house and gardens. Photo Credit: Dandelion Chandelier.

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A grand wrought-iron gate topped with delicate filigree guards the main entrance to the estate.

The forecourt

Once inside the gates, there’s a charming portico that shelters a circular driveway. Greek and Roman-inspired sculptures dot the landscape in front of the house.

Our photos from a tour of the Breakers mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, including the house and gardens. Credit: Dandelion Chandelier.

Our photos from a tour of the Breakers mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, including the house and gardens. Photo Credit: Dandelion Chandelier.

The Public Rooms

The Breakers mansion is modeled after the 16th-century palaces and villas of Genoa and the surrounding region. Those homes celebrated the architecture of ancient Rome, and that spirit permeates the Breakers, too.

Inside, you’ll find period furnishings, gold filigree, carved wood, marble, platinum walls, a bubbling fountain and numerous paintings. The net effect is like being teleported to Italy – never a bad thing, if you ask us.

The Great Hall

The opulence and grandeur of life among the wealthy in the Gilded Age is on full display in the Great Hall, the first area that visitors see as they enter the villa.

Our photos from a tour of the Breakers mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, including the house and gardens. Credit: Dandelion Chandelier.

Our photos from a tour of the Breakers mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, including the house and gardens. Credit: Dandelion Chandelier.

Our photos from a tour of the Breakers mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, including the house and gardens. Credit: Dandelion Chandelier.

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There are loggias on the first and second floors, defined by marble arches. The public rooms are symmetrically arrayed around the Great Hall.

Our photos from a tour of the Breakers mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, including the house and gardens. Credit: Dandelion Chandelier.

Our photos from a tour of the Breakers mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, including the house and gardens. Credit: Dandelion Chandelier.

Because the Breakers is open to the public year-round, concerts are held in the spectacular Great Hall during the annual summer Newport Music Festival and during the holiday season.

Our photos from a tour of the Breakers mansion in Newport. Photo Credit: Dandelion Chandelier.

Our photos from a tour of the Breakers mansion in Newport. Photo Credit: Dandelion Chandelier.

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The Dining Room, Billiards Room and the Music Room

Wander through the rooms adjacent to the Great Hall on the first floor, and you’ll get a sense of the social events the Vanderbilt family hosted during the Roaring 20’s and beyond.

Our photos from a tour of the Breakers mansion in Newport. Photo Credit: Dandelion Chandelier.

Our photos from a tour of the Breakers mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, including the house and gardens

Our photos from a tour of the Breakers mansion in Newport. Photo Credit: Dandelion Chandelier.

The home has an extensive library, and also a billiards room.

Our photos from a tour of the Breakers mansion in Newport. Photo Credit: Dandelion Chandelier.

The Family Quarters

Famed Boston architect and designer Ogden Codman, Jr. decorated the family quarters on the second and third floors of the villa.

Our photos from a tour of the Breakers mansion in Newport. Photo Credit: Dandelion Chandelier.

The vibe is feminine and refined, with floral brocade linens and wallpaper in several of the rooms.

Our photos from a tour of the Breakers mansion in Newport. Photo Credit: Dandelion Chandelier.

Our photos from a tour of the Breakers mansion in Newport. Photo Credit: Dandelion Chandelier.

Until 2018, the great-grandchildren of the original owners of The Breakers lived on the third floor.

The Kitchen

Having lost the previous house on the property to fire, Vanderbilt and his architect took numerous precautions to guard against a repeat of that outcome.

For example, they decided to build the kitchen in a separate space with a bit of distance from the main house.

Our photos from a tour of the Breakers mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, including the house and gardens. Credit: Dandelion Chandelier.

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If you love copper pots (and we do), this is a space in which to linger and marvel.

Our photos from a tour of the Breakers mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, including the house and gardens

Our photos from a tour of the Breakers mansion in Newport. Photo Credit: Dandelion Chandelier.

The Gardens and Grounds

After touring the mansion itself, lots of people explore the surrounding gardens and the expansive front lawn.

virtual tour of the gardens at the famous Newport mansion The Breakers

The gardens at the famous Newport mansion The Breakers. Credit: Dandelion Chandelier.

The Historic Preservation Society is currently in the midst of a 5-year restoration project of the original elements of the grounds at the Breakers. But there’s still plenty of lovely green space to explore.

Our photos from a tour of the Breakers mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, including the house and gardens

Our photos from a tour of the Breakers mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, including the house and gardens. Credit: Dandelion Chandelier.

And when you’re done, you can hop into one of the adorable motorized scooters and shoot off to the next mansion down the road!

Photo Credit: Dandelion Chandelier.

Photos of the Luxurious Breakers Mansion in Newport

That’s our virtual tour with photos of the luxurious Breakers mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, including the house and gardens. What do you think? Ready for a visit back in time to the Gilded Age?

Beginning January 4, 2021, The Breakers is open daily at 10 a.m., with last admission at 4 p.m. The house and grounds close at 5 p.m.

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