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Rhode Island is bordered on the north and east by Massachusetts, on the west by Connecticut, and on the south by Rhode Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. It shares a narrow maritime border with New York State between Block Island and Long Island.

The mean elevation of the state is 200 feet (61 m). It is only 37 miles (60 km) wide and 48 miles (77 km) long, yet the state has a tidal shoreline on Narragansett Bay and the Atlantic Ocean of 384 miles (618 km). Nicknamed the Ocean State, Rhode Island has a number of oceanfront beaches. It is mostly flat with no real mountains. Located within the New England Region, Rhode Island has two distinct natural regions. Eastern Rhode Island contains the lowlands of the Narragansett Bay, while Western Rhode Island forms part of the New England Upland. Narragansett Bay is a major feature of the state's topography. Within the Bay, there are over 30 islands. The largest is Aquidneck Island, shared by the municipalities of Newport, Middletown, and Portsmouth. The second-largest island is Conanicut; the third-largest is Prudence. Block Island lies about 12 miles (19 km) off the southern coast of the mainland and separates Block Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean proper.

Newport is the most famous town, particularly as it hosted the New York Yacht Club's Americas Cup races, which Alan Bond for Australia finally overcame all the 'illegal' legal disputes and won on the waters there.

Newport was earlier the summer center of the American Gilded Age or the belle epoque, when Vanderbilt and others built italian palazzo or French Chateau style mansions and then with great chutzpah called summer cottages (see photos).


The Breakers

The Breakers is a Vanderbilt mansion located on Ochre Point Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island, United States on the Atlantic Ocean.

It is a National Historic Landmark, a contributing property to the Bellevue Avenue Historic District, and is owned and operated by the Preservation Society of Newport County.

The Breakers was built as the Newport summer home of Cornelius Vanderbilt II, a member of the wealthy United States Vanderbilt family. It is built in an Italian Renaissance style. Designed by renowned architect Richard Morris Hunt, with interior decoration by Jules Allard and Sons and Ogden Codman, Jr. on five floors. The house was constructed between 1893 and 1895. The Ochre Point Avenue entrance is marked by sculpted iron gates and the high walkway gates are part of a 12-foot-high limestone-and-iron fence that borders the property on all but the ocean side. The footprint of the house covers approximately an acre of the 13-acre estate on the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean (see photos from cliff side walk).

The Marble house

Marble House is a Gilded Age mansion at 596 Bellevue Avenue in Newport, Rhode Island, now open to the public as a museum run by the Preservation Society of Newport County.

It was designed by the society architect Richard Morris Hunt.

For an American house, it was unparalleled in design and opulence when it was built. Its temple-front portico, has been compared to that of the White House.

The mansion was built as a summer "cottage" retreat between 1888 and 1892 for Alva and William Kissam Vanderbilt. The Marble house was a total chutzpah effort of Alva who only would supervise it if she owned it when it was finished. She spent her husband's money!

It was a social landmark that helped spark the transformation of Newport from a relatively relaxed summer colony of wooden houses to the now legendary resort of opulent stone palaces. The fifty-room mansion required a staff of 36 servants, including butlers, maids, coachmen, and footmen. The mansion cost $11 million (about $350 MUSD today).  

The Chinese Tea House, modeled on twelfth century Song Dynasty temples. When Alva Vanderbilt divorced William in 1895, she already owned Marble House outright, having received it as her 39th birthday present. Upon her remarriage in 1896 to Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont (who sailed her ex-husband's yachts - another piece of Chutzpah), she relocated down the street to Belmont's mansion, Belcourt. After his death, she reopened Marble House and added the Chinese Tea House on the seaside cliff, where she hosted rallies for women's suffrage.


Rosecliff, is one of the Gilded Age mansions of Newport, Rhode Island, now open to the public as a historic house museum. Originally its location was off the main (party) avenue, so Theresa Fair Oelrichs kept buying adjoining blocks of land until she had her Bellevue avenue address.

The house has also been known as the Hermann Oelrichs House or the J. Edgar Monroe House. It was built by Theresa Fair Oelrichs, a silver heiress from Nevada, whose father James Graham Fair was one of the four partners in the Comstock Lode. She was the wife of Hermann Oelrichs, American agent for Norddeutscher Lloyd steamship line. She and her husband, together with her sister, Virginia Fair, bought the land in 1891 from the estate of George Bancroft, and commissioned the architectural firm of McKim, Mead, and White to design a summer home suitable for entertaining on a grand scale.

With little opportunity to channel her considerable energy elsewhere, she "threw herself into the social scene with tremendous gusto, one of the three great hostesses of Newport." The principal architect, Stanford White, modeled the mansion after the Grand Trianon of Versailles, reduced to a basic "H" shape, while keeping Mansart's scheme of a glazed arcade of arched windows and paired Ionic pilasters, which increase to columns across the central loggia. White's Rosecliff adds to the Grand Trianon a second storey with a balustraded roofline that conceals the set-back third storey, containing twenty small servants' rooms and the pressing room for the laundry. Heaven forbid that anyone should see the petty servants! They had separate stairs and corridors.


The Elms

And the rest...

Isaac Bell house and Chateau-sur-Mer.

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