Sunday, June 8, 2014

ROUGH POINTE & ROSECLIFF OF NEWPORT

On this final post of my Newport trip, and on our last full day of being in Newport, we did a small sailing ride instead of the walk on Cliff Walk, where it gave a spectacular view of Rough Pointe.


Of all the places we visited, Rough Pointe in my opinion had the most colorful owner. You've got to love Doris Duke and Rough Point, Duke's seaside mansion in Newport, Rhode Island. Known as “the world's richest girl,” Doris Duke inherited her wealthy father's estate when she was only 12, by 16 almost a billionaire, and later ended up suing her own mother for control of the properties. (And you thought your family had spats?) Judging by what happened later, it's a good thing she did.
 
 
  Duke grew up to be a decent piano player, a good athlete, and a beautiful woman. As a jazz lover, she hosted black musicians at Rough Point back when Newport society was not known for having African-Americans lounging in the living room. She had affairs with A-list men like Errol Flynn, General George S. Patton, and Duke Kahanamoku, the Hawaiian surfing king. With lovers like that, a private fortune, and a respectable backhand, why ever settle down? Duke tried, but her marriages fell apart, a child born in 1940 died, and her adoption (at age 75) of a Hare Krishna follower – she believed the woman was the reincarnation of her deceased baby -- came to a bad end.


The original owner of Rough Point, built in the 1890s, was a Vanderbilt, so he was able to hire a pretty good landscaper named Frederick Law Olmstead. The building's sprawling, three-story stone facade looks like an English country house that never ends: It has 49 rooms – big ones. The Newport Restoration Foundation offers excellent tours, which it limits to 12 visitors at a time.
 

 
In the 1980s she acquired a couple of camels, to whom she fed Graham crackers on a silver tray. She let them into the mansion's solarium during a storm in 1991; otherwise, they wandered freely on the back lawn and scared the bejesus out of people on the Cliff Walk. These bushes shaped into camels were added for Doris love for her camels. 
 
The last beauty we saw on this amazing trip was the home of silver heiress Theresa Fair Oelrichs, named Rosecliff
 
 
 
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 a steamship line. She and her husband, together with her sister, Virginia Fair, bought the land in 1891, 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, becoming, with Mrs. Stuyvesant Fish and Mrs. O.H.P. Belmont, one of the" three great hostesses of Newport." One reason I loved Rosecliff so much, is I enjoy French Baroque Revival architecture.
 
 
 Rosecliff stayed with the Oelrich family till 1941, then went through several owners till the Monroe family owned, it,  till 1971, where Mr. and Mrs. Monroe donated the entire estate with its contents and a $2 million operating endowment to the Preservation Society of Newport County, who opened it to the public for tours. Mr Monroe often would come back to the estate for charity events up until his death in 1991.  Since then the estate and ballroom where used to film scenes for the 1974 version of The Great Gatsby.
I absolutely LOVED the grand staircase!!! Designed for a dramatic entrance wouldn't you say?
 
 
The only house I wanted to see, but didn't was the Astor's home, Beechwood, one of the oldest on Newport, but on the day we went it was closed for some reason. But it will give an excuse for a return trip, don't you think? Hopefully these post will inspire my good friend the Dame to choose a name for her lovely home. I told her no proper hostess in society has a home unnamed!!!!

21 comments:

  1. WATTA TRIP!!! Thanks for sharing it with us... MHAW!!!

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  2. This is the reason I love your blog, always something interesting to see. You have brought back good memories of my tips there. What can I add that hasn't already been said?

    I though the wild birds here are noteworthy. The crows were huge and picture perfect on the late Autumn front lawn when we were there. William and I decided it would be the perfect place to have an Easter egg roll, then tea time inside, then croquet. The further away, the prettier Rosewood is. Sounds like a good metaphor, but I wasn't trying to be poetic. I got the best pictures standing far back. And Rough Pointe is my favorite, It is quite stunning and I like its stories-- Doris Duke has always intrigued me, and I have read many stories on her. And how can you not love the camels? Im long winded today , can you tell?

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  3. Of the variety of Newport Mansions to visit, this one is quite beautiful on the outside and the ballroom is gorgeous, inspired by the Palace of Versailles. The grand staircase is lovely, I can see the Mistress sweeping down in a huge haute couture gown!!!!
    However, the upstairs is not as impressive as the Breakers, Elms, or Marble House. With that said, I would visit this one BEFORE visiting the other grand mansions if time permits.Also, I liked that Rosecliff is walking distance from the Marble House like 3 or 4 houses away.

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  4. GREAT series of posts Mistress. if one is interested in architecture and history, there is much to learn and study. If you're interested in landscape architecture and design, well once again, you will have come to the right place. I have studies them all and have always loved them.

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  5. I agree, what a tour of your wonderful trip! of all the homes, I like Rough Pointe the best, it's more me and doesn't seem so over whelming. Love the tidbit about Doris feeding her camels!!!

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  6. BRAVO! Wonderful post!

    I read that Mrs. Oelrich was known for giving lavish but quite formal and staid parties. When Rosecliff really came alive was in the 1940s when the Monroe family from New Orleans purchased the property and threw a bunch of wild costume parties. They came to Newport to cool off during the summers but it sounds like they heated up the social scene in a great way.

    New Orleanians can certainly still show the Yankees a thing or two about throwing a good party.

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  7. As summer "cottage" in particular it would be hard to find anything wrong with this places. I love the coat of arms in the windows of Rough Pointe.

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  8. Again, stunning homes. But can't help but wonder if those camels have something, but I'll keep this classy.

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  9. Rosecliff is by far my favorite now. I love the simple cleanliness to it but still very regal. I have come to the conclusion that I need to marry rich so that I can have a home like Rosecliff. That is all.

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  10. Two things. You and Doris have a lot in common with parties and the men!!!! Both eccentric. Second, Rosecliff was definitely built with the idea of having a good time in mind. . . which is my kind of place! wink!

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  11. that far shot of rough point's gates - I was thinking to myself "are those CAMELS back there?" lucky they are topiary. and in honor of the cigarette brand, perhaps?

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  12. WOW! What a spectacular trip!!!!! You sure lead a fun lifestyle Mistress. I hope you and the professor didn't get caught breaking in any rooms of these homes!?!?!?

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  13. Rosecliff would make an excellent Lair. :-)

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    1. it would make for a rather secret super hero lair wouldn't it?

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  14. Have enjoyed this armchair trip! And yes, you have to go back! :-)

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  15. This was a breath of fresh air. It was good to get back into a mansion that had a simple elegance to it. Though this did not really compare to The Elms or The Breakers, but it was still beautiful. You also have to see the Chateau-sur-Mer, which you pictured on your walk on Cliff walk.

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  16. I'm a sucker for mansions, castles and the like, and Rosecliff did not disappoint! It's less commanding than The Breakers, but still elegant. The staircase upon entrance is fantastic! And it's interesting to see Rough Pointe and how different it is compared to the other. I need a drink after this tour Mistress.

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  17. Not only is Rough Point house beautiful, the place is FULL of eye-popping artwork and amazing decor. We couldn't stop talking about it. 15th Century tapestries, Ming Dynasty vases, Van Dyck paintings, it was all fabulous.

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  18. Wow another great installment!!!! We have to plan a trip there, we would enjoy all this, You mean to tell us the Dame still hasn't named her house yet??

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  19. It's been interesting to see how the rich and famous lived then, They had some real style and class over the rich today.

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  20. Mistress, after all your wonderful post, me and some of my gay boys are going to plan a trip to Newport this summer! We can't afford the airfare right now, so were planning a road trip! We all thought this trip looked amazing, so thanks!!!

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Go ahead darling, tell me something fabulous!

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