The famed Newport mansions are "summer cottages" built for wealthy families during the Gilded Age of the late 19th century. Today, the properties are owned and operated by The Preservation Society of Newport County, a non-profit organization and Rhode Island's largest and most-visited cultural resource. The organization's mission is to preserve the architectural heritage of Newport County, including in particular the Bellevue Avenue Historic District, where most of the "cottages" are located.
The Breakers is the largest and most-visited of the collection. Built by Cornelius Vanderbilt II, it is situated directly on the Cliff Walk, another of Newport's very popular attractions. Other major properties along Bellevue Avenue include Rosecliff (where the Great Gatsby was filmed), Marble House and The Elms (be sure to ask about tours of the servants' quarters).
The smaller "mansions" are also impressive: Chateau Sur Mer, Chepstow, Kingscote, and Isaac Bell House. The Hunter House, a mid-18th century Georgian Colonial home on the harborfront, provides a fascinating peek at Newport's mercantile history and lifestyle.
In total, the Preservation Society's fourteen historic properties and landscapes—seven of which are National Historic Landmarks, and eleven of which are open to the public—form a complete essay of American historical development from the Colonial era through the Gilded Age.
Tickets are available to visit individual or multiple properties. Tour schedules vary with the seasons, so be sure to contact the Preservation Society of Newport County for details: 401-847-1000.
N.B. Guests at the Jailhouse Inn usually drive, ride a bike or take public transportation to the Newport mansions. Distance ranges from 1-4 miles.