Here I am at the back of the house.
Next on the tour was The Rosecliff.
The Rosecliff, circa 1902 is described as a fantasy in terra cotta, some of Newport's grandest Gilded Age parties were staged here. Cole Porter was a frequent house guest, composiging and playing the piano in an upstairs sitting room. Its ocean views and expansive lawns create a dreamlike atmosphere.
The story behind the Rosecliff was much different than the first mansion we toured. This family had "newer" money and seemed to constantly try and prove their right to be part of "The Gilded Age" crowd. It seemed a little over done to me.
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 Norddeutscher Lloyd steamship line. She and her husband, together with her sister, Virginia Fair, bought the land in 1891 from the estate of George Bancroft, 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 (of nearby Belcourt) one of the three great hostesses of Newport."
Rosecliff stayed in the Oelrichs family until 1941, then went through several changes of ownership before being bought by Mr & Mrs J. Edgar Monroe of New Orleans in 1947. Mr. Monroe, a southern gentleman who had made his fortune in the ship building industry, came to Newport with his wife Louise every summer to escape the summer heat of the Deep South. The two became well known for the large parties they threw at Rosecliff; many of which had mardi gras theme, the Monroes loved dressing up in fancy costumes for these parties. Unlike Mrs. Oelrichs' parties, which were stiff and formal, the Monroes' parties were laid back and easy going. Because Hermann Oelrichs Jr had sold off all the furnishings in 1941, nearly all the furnishings visitors see at Rosecliff today are from the Monroe period of occupation. In 1971, 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 (information here taken from Wikipedia)
This is the front of the home.
The view from the front of the house looking toward the street.
The view from the back of the home.
The view of the back of the house. Notice the tacky awning over the back porch. This mansion is used lots for weddings and other large events.
There are a few other lovely mansions here that I look forward to seeing. I especially want to see the few that are open and decorated for the Christmas holidays! More pictures coming!