Sunday, July 14, 2013

Postcards from Newport: Great Houses

We spent Friday in Newport, Rhode Island, one of my favorite New England towns. We walked from downtown to Marble House along Bellevue Avenue, a National Historic Landmark since 1976. We enjoyed admiring turn-of-the-century properties built by families in the Social Register (or climbers thereto). They are not all the summer residences of One Percenters these days; several of them have been converted to condominiums.. There were a number of for-sale signs, in case you are house-hunting.

A charming Shingle-style with English Tudor touches and a sprawling lawn (with a lace-cap hydrangea).

"The Castle." There's a condo for sale and it's swell, and it's $889,900.

I have noticed that many rich people have great taste in houses and horrible taste in sculpture.

An Italianate villa with a lovely porch and a cupola. I like all those little boxwoods lining the path.

This was "Mrs. Astor's Beechwood," a house museum that wasn't operated by the Newport Preservation Society, with costumed guides impersonating Mrs. Astor. Larry Ellison (CEO of Oracle) bought it a few years ago and is reconstructing it to house his 19th-century art collection. The scaffolding on the roof is keeping the house from falling apart while it's being gutted. We'll see....

This is Sunny Lea, and you can buy a penthouse condominium, i.e., former servant's quarters, for $342,0000.

Some houses on Bellevue can't be seen from the street. I wonder where this gated driveway leads to....

Not all Newport architecture is grand, of course, but quite a lot of it is wonderful. We passed this little house on our long hike back to the car. The summery, patriotic paint scheme suited it perfectly, and it has the same (enviable) lace-cap hydrangeas as the big mansions. I'll take it!

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