Richard Morris Hunt, The Breakers, 1893, Newport, RI, Photo by Matt H. Wade via Wikimedia, Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. © 2013 . All rights reserved.

Need to Get Away?

Even the Vanderbilts had to stretch their legs in the summertime and when brother Cornelius did he headed to Newport, RI to his 70-room, 65,000 sq. ft. summer mansion, The Breakers, set on cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

(All of the Vanderbilts had their city dwellings and their summer cottages.  Have fun browsing the list on Wikipedia here.)

Built by Richard Morris Hunt, who also designed the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, this Victorian mansion was intended to look like an Italian Palazzo.  Its solidity and symmetry is not unlike the palace of the Florentine Medici, the wealthy and powerful merchants who ruled Renaissance Italy – an apt comparison for the American railroad and shipping tycoons of the American Industrial Revolution.

In fact, there are many references to Renaissance Italy in the architectural details on the exterior: classical columns and capitals, rounded arches and circular windows, coining at the corners, balustrades and projecting eaves with brackets.  The interior is as richly decorated as the exterior having been covered with marble and mosaics that were imported from all over the world and filled with fine European furnishings.

At the time it was built, The Breakers was the most lavish home in America.