Vanderbilt Mansions Rhode Island
During the 1870s to the 1920s, the affluent Vanderbilt family commissioned the very best and most expensive architectural and interior design firms to build a series of townhouses in New York and mansions in the East Coast. Most of the Vanderbilt houses, because of their unequalled historic beauty and breathtaking magnificence, are now designated as National Historic Landmarks. The architects of the Vanderbilt homes include Richard Morris Hunt, Charles B. Atwood, George B. Post, Addison Mizner, Warren and Wetmore, McKim, Mead and White, Carrere and Hastings, and Horrace Trumbauer.
The wealthy American-Anglo Vanderbilt Family had Dutch roots. They were probably the most affluent of families during the 1800s when Cornelius Vanderbilt founded shipping and railroad empires. Cornelius Vanderbilt is regarded as the tenth wealthiest person in history. His descendants spent unbelievable sums of money on the construction of lavish homes while he himself preferred more modest construction.
Frederick William Vanderbilt commissioned McKim, Mead, and White to build Hyde Park in New York in 1896. Hyde Park is now known as the Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site. Frederick William also built the Rough Point mansion in Newport. William Kissam Vanderbilt had architect Richard Morris Hunt design three homes for him. They are his townhouse at Fifth Avenue, New York; the Idle Hour mansion in Oakdale, Long Island, New York; and the Marble House in Newport, Rhode Island. In 1910, William Kissam II hired Warren and Wetmore to build Eagle’s Nest in Centerport, New York. George Washington Vanderbilt II again commissioned Richard Morris Hunt to build Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina.
It is the largest residence in the entire United States. Also designed by Hunt is Cornelius Vanderbilt II’s Breakers mansion in Newport, Rhode Island. He has another house in New York which was built by George B. Post. Florence Vanderbilt, the wife of Hamilton Twombly, looked to McKim, Mead, and White to build Florham in Covent Station, New Jersey. Florham now serves as the Administration Building of Farleigh Dickinson University. Emily Thorn Vanderbilt, William Douglas Sloan’s wife, was responsible for the construction of the Elm Court in Lenox, Massachusetts. In all of America, it is the largest residential example of shingle-style architecture. In 1919, the Elm Court Talks were held at Elm Court. These talks led to the founding of The League of Nations and to the conception of the Treaty of Versailles.
The Vanderbilts were the leaders of the elite society, but during the mid-1900s, the family’s high standing suffered a major collapse, and the Fall of the House of Vanderbilt began. Their Fifth Avenue mansions were demolished, and the other Vanderbilt houses were sold. Many of the Gilded Age mansions in Newport are now managed as museums by the Preservation Society of Newport County.