By Donna Cain, Innkeeper and Owner
Cape Cod is such a magical area, and we always have many suggestions when our guests ask what they should do during their stay at the Captain Freeman Inn. For those guests that are lucky enough to have planned a long stay, we have 5 great suggestions for memorable day trips off Cape Cod. Many are just a few hours away and make for a perfect days adventure during your stay with us.
Day Trip #1- Newport, Rhode Island ( 2 hours )
I think our all time favorite day trip recommendation is Newport. For those history buffs like myself, the area is full of history which includes touring many of the summer cottages of the Gilded Age Summer Elite. It’s ironic that they called them cottages as they are grand, extravagant and large, to say the least, and all of the tours include fun stories about the families. Listed below is some of our favorites:
Front entrance of the Elms from Bellevrie Avenue
This summer cottage was the summer residence of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Julius Berwind of Philadelphia and New York. Mr. Berwind made his fortune in the coal industry. In 1898, the Berwinds engaged Philadelphia architect Horace Trumbauer to design a house modeled after the mid-18th century French chateau d’Asnieres (c.1750) outside Paris.
Construction of The Elms was completed in 1901 at a cost reported at approximately $1.4 million. The interiors and furnishings were designed by Allard and Sons of Paris and were the setting for the Berwinds’ collection of Renaissance ceramics, 18th century French and Venetian paintings, and Oriental jades.
The elaborate Classical Revival gardens on the grounds were developed between 1907 and 1914. They includeThe Elms dining room terraces displaying marble and bronze sculpture, a park of fine specimen trees and a lavish lower garden featuring marble pavilions, fountains, a sunken garden and carriage house and garage. These gardens were recently restored.
The Elms gardens
Mrs. Berwind died in 1922, and Mr. Berwind invited his sister, Julia, to become his hostess at his New York and Newport houses. Mr. Berwind died in 1936 and Miss Julia continued to summer at The Elms until her death in 1961, at which time the house and most of its contents were sold at public auction. The Preservation Society of Newport County purchased The Elms in 1962 and opened the house to the public. In 1996, The Elms was designated a National Historic Landmark.
The Breakers is the grandest of Newport’s summer “cottages” and a symbol of the Vanderbilt family’s social and financial preeminence in turn of the century America.
Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877) established the family fortune in steamships and later in the New York Central Railroad, which was a pivotal development in the industrial growth of the nation during the late 19th century.
The Commodore’s grandson, Cornelius Vanderbilt II, became Chairman and President of the New York Central Railroad system in 1885, and purchased a wooden house called The Breakers in Newport during that same year. In 1893, he commissioned architect Richard Morris Hunt to design a villa to replace the earlier wood-framed house which was destroyed by fire the previous year. Hunt directed an international team of craftsmen and artisans to create a 70 room Italian Renaissance- style palazzo inspired by the 16th century palaces of Genoa and Turin. Allard and Sons of Paris assisted Hunt with furnishings and fixtures, Austro-American sculptor Karl Bitter designed relief sculpture, and Boston architect Ogden Codman decorated the family quarters.
Front entrance to the Breakers
The Vanderbilts had seven children. Their youngest daughter, Gladys, who married Count Laszlo Szechenyi of Hungary, inherited the house on her mother’s death in 1934. An ardent supporter of The Preservation Society of Newport County, she opened The Breakers in 1948 to raise funds for the Society. In 1972, the Preservation Society purchased the house from her heirs. Today, the house is designated a National Historic Landmark.
The Marble House
The Marble House
Marble House was built between 1888 and 1892 for Mr. and Mrs. William K. Vanderbilt. It was a summer house, or “cottage”, as Newporters called them in remembrance of the modest houses of the early 19th century. But Marble House was much more; it was a social and architectural landmark that set the pace for Newport’s subsequent transformation from a quiet summer colony of wooden houses to the legendary resort of opulent stone palaces.
Mr. Vanderbilt was the grandson of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, who established the family’s fortune in steamships and the New York Central Railroad. His older brother was Cornelius II, who built The Breakers. Alva Vanderbilt was a leading hostess in Newport society, and envisioned Marble House as her “temple to the arts” in America.
Chinese tea house at the Marble “cottage”
The house was designed by the architect Richard Morris Hunt, inspired by the Petit Trianon at Versailles. The cost of the house was reported in contemporary press accounts to be $11 million, of which $7 million was spent on 500,000 cubic feet of marble. Upon its completion, Mr. Vanderbilt gave the house to his wife as a 39th birthday present.
The Gold SalonThe Vanderbilts had 3 children: Consuelo, who became the 9th Duchess of Marlborough; William K., Jr., a prominent figure in pioneering the sport of auto racing in America; and Harold, one of the finest yachtsmen of his era who successfully defended the America’s Cup three times.
The Vanderbilts divorced in 1895 and Alva married Oliver H.P. Belmont, moving down the street to Belcourt. After his death, she reopened Marble House, and had a Chinese Tea House built on the seaside cliffs, where she hosted rallies for women’s right to vote. She sold the house to Frederick H. Prince in 1932. The Preservation Society acquired the house in 1963 from the Prince estate. In 2006, Marble House was designated a National Historic Landmark.
Commissioned by Nevada silver heiress Theresa Fair Oelrichs in 1899, architect Stanford White modeled Rosecliff after the Grand Trianon, the garden retreat of French kings at Versailles. After the house was completed in 1902, at a reported cost of $2.5 million, Mrs. Oelrichs hosted fabulous entertainments here, including a fairy tale dinner and a party featuring famed magician Harry Houdini.
Views from Rosecliff
“Tessie”, as she was known to her friends, was born in Virginia City, Nevada. Her father, JamesRosecliff salon Graham Fair, was an Irish immigrant who made an enormous fortune from Nevada’s Comstock silver lode, one of the richest silver finds in history. During a summer in Newport, Theresa met Hermann Oelrichs playing tennis at the Newport Casino. They were married in 1890. A year later, they purchased the property known as Rosecliff from the estate of historian and diplomat George Bancroft. An amateur horticulturist, it was Bancroft who developed the American Beauty Rose. The Oelrichs later bought additional property along Bellevue Avenue and commissioned Stanford White to replace the original house with the mansion that became the setting for many of Newport’s most lavish parties.
Rosecliff is now preserved through the generosity of its last private owners, Mr. and Mrs. J. Edgar Monroe, of New Orleans. They gave the house, its furnishings, and an endowment to the Preservation Society in 1971.
Step into the life of heiress and art collector Doris Duke at her oceanfront Newport mansion. Immerse yourself in the fine art, furnishings and antiques she spent a lifetime collecting.
This is a tribute to the real camels that Doris used to keep on her back lawn
Doris Duke was an individual whose sense of style represented her personality and creativity. She was a confident woman who enjoyed fashion and tried new trends, but made her own rules of style. She dressed in outfits that fit with her diverse interests and lifestyle and did not always fit the standard rules of dressing. Overall, Miss Duke was a lover of quality clothing and enjoyed the pleasures of fashion that made her stand out as the confident and beautiful woman she was.There is a new exhibit at the mansion : The Personal Style of Doris Duke which examines a portion of Doris Duke’s clothing collection ranging from lavish evening gowns with exquisite embroidery to the simple silhouette of a little black dress.
(Information and pictures concerning the mansions shown above were collected from the Preservation Society of Newport‘s web site.)
For dining during your day trip to decide which mansion you would like to buy:) we like to recommend the Black Pearls which is located on the wharf with beautiful water views. Food is always good and they serve lunch and dinner.
Day Trip #2-5 to follow on separate blogs.
Exhaling on Cape Cod and loving our life as innkeepers and being able to share this wonderful little peninsula that we call home.