Newport, Rhode Island

October 8th

Coastline of Rhode Island

Rhode Island is the smallest state in the U.S. To put it in perspective, you could fit 165 Rhode Island’s in the state of Texas! The state motto is “Size doesn’t matter!”. 

Newport Harbor

A few other random facts and trivia we learned today thanks to the Princess Cruise Line port guide and/or our tour guide include:

There are two previous summer white houses located in Newport. In fact they are practically right next door.

Eisenhower Summer White House

Kennedy White House (Jackie’s family home)

Jackie won a contest as a child when she designed this lighthouse style home

Rhode Island is made up of 35 islands.

A Dutch explorer originally named the state “Roodt Eylandt” which means “red Island” referring to the red clay lining the shore.

Regal Princess in Newport Harbor

It maybe the smallest state, but it has the longest official name, “State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations”.

The White Horse Tavern in Newport is the oldest operating tavern in the United States.

Several sports got introduced in Newport including the first polo match played in the United States in 1876, the first U.S. Open golf tournament and the first automobile race in 1895. The Tennis Hall of Fame is located here.

But the real story of Newport is linked back to early settlement days when Providence, Portsmouth and Newport were established by those seeking political and religious freedom between 1636 and 1639.

Loved these bright flowers

Newport became a major port city in the Triangle Trade where sugar and molasses was imported from the West Indies, converted to rum locally and then shipped to Africa as part of the slave trade.

Huge fortunes were made. The British government wanted a share of the revenue in the form of taxes. The people of Rhode Island vehemently opposed the taxation and conflicts arose. This was but a precursor to the American War of Independence.

Canada Geese

After the revolution, Newport rebuilt and thrived. They became the epicenter of America’s Gilded Age of prosperity and opulence. The aristocracy of the Industrial Age chose Newport as their summer playground and the legendary “summer cottages” became their legacy.

Today several of these mansions, once owned by such prominent families as the Vanderbilts, Morgans and Astor’s, have been preserved and are open to the public to tour. Four of the more well-known mansions include The Breakers, Rosecliff, The Elms and Marble House.

We chose a tour called Grand Mansions & Ocean Scenic Drive. Taking a 20 minute tender ride from the ship to our pier, we loaded onto a clean, roomy bus. Some noted points included driving past St Mary’s Church where Jacqueline Bouvier married John F. Kennedy, Jackie family home and the Eisenhower home.

The Elms, National Historic Landmark

But the true highlight was a tour through The Elms which was owned by the Berwind family who made their money in the coal industry. Used for only six to eight weeks during the summer, lavish parties were thrown and enjoyed by other monied guests.

Here are some pictures showing some of the major rooms of the mansion:

Over entry door at The Elms

Grand staircase

His Library

Sitting room

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We had scheduled an afternoon walking tour in town, but it was raining sideways with gusting wind and we decided to return to the ship instead.

GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful to have gotten a glimpse of life behind the curtains of the mega wealthy from an era I have only read about. I can not fathom the extreme measures that were taken to be the ultimate hostess.

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About Tim and Joanne Joseph

Hi and welcome! We are Tim and Joanne Joseph and we have just embarked on our "next chapter". At a stage in life where traveling the world, taking pictures, and sharing our adventures with friends and family will be our dream come true.
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28 Responses to Newport, Rhode Island

  1. joylennick says:

    All most interesting and informative. Like you, whenever I’ve toured some of the magnificent mansions, castles and buildings in various parts of the UK and abroad – most recently a ‘stuffed’ castle in Copenhagen, I can’t get my head around the need for so many treasures and wealth. I suppose it’s a case of ‘to the manor born…’ What an endlessly fascinating world we live in, eh! Continue in good health. Best wishes. Joy xx

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  2. Love following your blog. After reading this post, I am reminiscing about my trip there several years ago with friends. Loved the Elms, ate at the tavern. If you ever get a chance and haven’t yet be sure to visit Rough Point the former estate of Doris Duke. It’s fabulous! Also, what type of camera do you use?

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  3. salpal1 says:

    It’s a shame you didn’t get to wander the town, it is truly quaint and lovely. When I lived in So New England, I sued to love to visit the mansions at Christmas times – the Elms was always especially pretty all decorated for the season. Not very authentic as the family wasn’t there for Christmas, but pretty any way.

    It is unbelievable that there was such wealth and a need to show it off that these beautiful mansions were built – but how fortunate that the good folk of Newport worked to save them from decay and destruction once the gilded age ended and reality (the depression) rolled in.

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  4. Another name for The Elms might be Conspicuous Consumption. (grin) We experienced the same rainstorm since you were about an hour away. 🙂 –Curt

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  5. joliesattic says:

    Those waves looked rather angry. I have been to one of the Vanderbilt homes, I think it was and Hearst castle in CA and although I’m always craving a larger home, I can’t imagine nor would I want a home of such magnitude. I can’t imagine it allows one to really form a bond or closeness to anyone. I could be wrong. Now land is another thing. Give me space between neighbors.

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  6. Terry says:

    VIsiting the palaces of the rich, either here or in Europe is just an eye opening experience for us measly poor folk. Sounds like the adventure is ramping up. Hope the weather makes a turn for the good.

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  7. I am fascinated by history and seeing glimpses of it come to life; thank you for sharing the pics inside the mansion! The extravagance is mind boggling and I would love to know what the owners would think of the modern “tiny house” movement!

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  8. I am originally from Rhode Island and love seeing other people explore the state! I visited Versailles last year but think the Elms and Breakers are just as grand on the interior.

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  9. sheilsm says:

    JoAnne! Thoroughly enjoyed your post! On Monday, my husband and I toured The Breakers! On one of the ceilings, 40 Italian artisans were hired to do a mosaic….the pieces had to be broken and then placed together like a puzzle…that was just one of the outrageous things we learned about the decorating of this house. Today, we toured Rosecliff, Marble House, Chateau Sur Mer, and The Elm. They were all incredible as was the story behind each. We had perfect weather today. I wanted to walk on the Cliff Walk and do a trolley tour on the Ocean Road, but could not squeeze that into our day. I always enjoy your posts and your photos.

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  10. Thanks for the tour of one of the few states I have never visited. I can tell from your post that I would really enjoy going there.

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  11. swisslulu says:

    I thought you might be interested to know the name of the yellow flower. It is Allamanda Cathartica aka Trumpet Vine, a native of Brazil. It grows well here in sub-tropical and tropical areas of Australia.

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