The holiday season is quickly approaching, and The Breakers, The Elms and Marble House will soon be welcoming visitors for Christmas at the Newport Mansions! Beginning November 19 and running through January 2nd guests are invited to join The Preservation Society of Newport County to create holiday memories as they enjoy music, tours, a gingerbread mansion contest, shopping and visits from Santa Claus at three of America’s most outstanding historic houses. The glitter and elegance of holidays at the Newport Mansions are not to be missed!
The mansions will be dressed in their holiday best, boasting a total of twenty-four decorated Christmas trees, reflecting the individual room décor in which they stand. Tables will be set with period silver and china, and individual white candles will illuminate each window. Thousands of poinsettias, fresh flowers, evergreens and wreaths will also fill the magnificent rooms. Returning to the Great Hall of The Breakers this year is the 15-foot-tall poinsettia tree. The “tree” is made up of approximately 150 individual poinsettia plants grown in the Preservation Society’s own greenhouses. The plants are removed and replaced several times during the six-week holiday season to ensure the display remains fresh and flawless.
Alongside steadfast traditions are new elements that are sure to buoy the holiday spirit as fresh décor and themes debut throughout the rooms in each mansion. With new ornaments, revised designs, baby gift hampers, and new themes and colors, guests who return year after year won’t be disappointed.
One new highlight at The Breakers this season will be a working garden scale model of the New York Central Railroad, the source of the Vanderbilt family fortune with which The Breakers was built. The train will run on a custom built and landscaped platform in the upper loggia.
Also displayed in the loggia will be nine three-foot-tall tabletop trees, each decorated by a Newport elementary school. With creative assistance from a Preservation Society employee, each school’s art class will create ornaments with which to decorate their tree. Visitors to The Breakers will be encouraged to vote for their favorite. Cash prizes will be awarded to all participating schools for the purchase of art supplies.
Back by popular demand, the Gingerbread Mansion Contest will once again take place at The Breakers. Guests are invited to view the delectable displays, created by local pastry chefs including Jonathan Cartwright of Muse at Vanderbilt Grace in Newport, RI; Janet Fatulli of Fatulli’s Gourmet Deli & Bakery of Middletown, RI; Gerry DuPont of Edible Creations of Westport, MA; Elci Pimental of Dream Cakes by Elci of Dartmouth, MA; Russell Morin Fine Catering of Newport, RI; and the students of Baking & Pastry Arts at Bristol Community College in Fall River, MA. Designs will be modeled after the Isaac Bell House, The Chinese Tea House, Kingscote, Chepstow, Green Animals Topiary Garden and Hunter House. These creations, made entirely from edible materials, will be on display in The Breakers kitchen beginning November 29.
Three Mansions Open Daily
The Christmas season begins early at the Newport Mansions, starting on Saturday, November 19. The Breakers, The Elms and Marble House will be fully decorated and open daily for tours, except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, through January 2. Rosecliff will also be open for tours, including the exhibition Splendor at Sea: The Golden Age of Steam Yachting in America, from December 4 through January 2, 2017. Please note, on Christmas Eve, December 24, the last tour admission at all houses will be at 3 p.m. Houses are closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. A Winter Passport ticket providing daytime admission to all houses open from November 19 to March 17, 2017 is $29.49 for adults, $9 for children 6-17. Children under 6 are admitted free. All other Newport Mansions daytime tour tickets remain valid through the Christmas season as well.
Visits with Santa Claus
Santa Claus will take a break from making his list and checking it twice to come visit the houses for Christmas. Children can visit with Santa Claus in a spectacular setting. The visit with Santa is included in the regular admission price. Eggnog and cookies will be served, and don’t forget a camera!
Santa Claus himself will visit each of the three houses on successive Sunday afternoons in December to listen to your children’s wish lists! Bring the kids and your camera for a great photo op! Santa’s visit is from 12 p.m. – 3 p.m. on each day. Included in tour admission.
Holiday Evenings at the Newport Mansions
With Holiday Evenings at the Newport Mansions, guests are given the unique opportunity to experience the historic mansions lit up for night time festivities. The experience includes a leisurely self-guided tour through the house, live holiday music and a stop for cookies and pastries, eggnog and cider. Advance tickets are available online at www.NewportMansions.org, or call (401) 847-1000.
Shopping at the Newport Mansions Stores
The Newport Mansions Stores will be bustling with activities for the holiday season. The shopping season gets underway with the annual Members’ Sale. Preservation Society members enjoy 25% off all purchases at The Breakers, The Elms, Marble House, and the downtown Newport store at Bannister’s Wharf. For additional holiday shopping events, check our Events Calendar at NewportMansions.org.
About The Mansions
The Breakers, a 70-room Italian Renaissance-style palazzo, was designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt and completed in 1895 for Cornelius Vanderbilt II, President and Chairman of the New York Central Railroad. Its interiors include rich marbles and gilded rooms, a 50-foot high Great Hall, mosaic tile floors and ceilings, and open-air terraces with magnificent ocean views.
The Elms is an elegant French-style chateau built in 1901 for Philadelphia coal magnate Edward J. Berwind. It serves as a backdrop for monumental artworks, including wall-sized 18th century Venetian paintings and Chinese lacquer panels. The Elms is situated on a 10-acre park with an elaborate sunken garden.
Marble House was the summer home of Mr. and Mrs. William K. Vanderbilt. Built and furnished at a reported cost of $11 million, it was the most lavish house in America when it opened in 1892. It became a grand stage for Alva Vanderbilt’s climb to social and political power, first as a leading society hostess and later as a leader of the “Votes for Women” campaign.
The Preservation Society of Newport County, Rhode Island is a non-profit organization accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and dedicated to preserving and interpreting the area’s historic architecture, landscapes and decorative arts. Its 11 historic properties – seven of them National Historic Landmarks – span more than 250 years of American architectural and social development.