Rhode Island is a state with a rich cultural history, especially in the Newport area. Here’s some of our favorites historic sites in Rhode Island.
The Breakers is a historic mansion located near the scenic shore of the Easton Bay in Newport. This 70-room, five-story estate was originally built for Cornelius Vanderbilt II in 1895 as a summer “cottage.” The stately home was designed by well-known Gilded Age architect Richard Morris Hunt, who also designed the equally-gilded Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. Guided tours are available to visitors, and the well-maintained exhibit is a great way to learn more about the history of the Newport area.
Newport actually has more than one huge summer home from the 19th century. The Elms is another of the many major Gilded Age mansions in Newport, and it’s worth the visit for the exceptional Servant’s Tour. On this guided tour, visitors will learn about how the staff and servants at The Elms lived, discovering details about their daily lives that bring to mind the upstairs-downstairs drama of Downton Abbey. And besides the tour, the Elms rivals the Breakers for beauty, elegance, and remarkable interior decorations.
Fort Adams is an enormous 19-century fortress built at the mouth of the Narragansett Bay. It has a rich and long history, serving as a pre-Revolutionary cannon emplacement and a World War II command center. Guided tours are available daily, but be prepared to do a good deal of walking. Fort Adams itself is huge, and there are even more fortification for the truly intrigued.
This church not only features beautiful Gothic-style architecture, but it’s the very building where President John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, were married. While you’re there, take a moment to absorb the reverential atmosphere of the cathedral and admire the stained glass. The church normally houses a historic pipe organ, but it’s currently in Canada for repairs. Check back in the summer 2017 to see it!
Rhode Island, you may have noticed, is a state with many mansions. The Newport area is especially flush, with several sumptuous estates vying for your attention. But if you’re hoping for a home that’s slightly less gilded, Rough Point won’t disappoint. It started life as another Vanderbilt summer home, but eventually passed on to the fascinating horticulturist and art collector Dorris Duke. She lived in the home on and off, eventually taking up permanent residence in the 1950s. During that time, she completely redecorated, updating the rich interior style of the Gilded Age to reflect a more modern sensibility. Be sure to take the exceptional tour, and leave yourself plenty of time – there’s a lot to take in.