Tour Beneath The Breakers in Newport, Rhode Island

Beneath the Breakers offers guests a never-before-seen look into the working side of the Vanderbilt family’s summer home and what it took to bring a great house like The Breakers to life. The unveiling of the tour follows an 18-month, $1.2 million project to preserve and restore the historic underground Firetube Boilers room of The Breakers, located under the front lawn of the 19th century mansion as a fireproofing measure. (You’re literally underground!)

Photo provided by The Preservation Society of Newport County

Tour Beneath The Breakers in Newport
Photo Credit: The Preservation Society of Newport County

The Preservation Society of Newport County introduces the new Beneath The Breakers Tour. These ongoing tours offer guests a never-before-seen look into the working side of the Vanderbilt family’s summer home and what it took to bring a great house like The Breakers (1895) to life. Based on research by Preservation Society staff and period documents, including daily journals that were kept by The Breakers’ chief engineer Lawrence Bauerband, the tour shares with visitors how the house changed with the times as domestic technology evolved through the Gilded Age and into the 20th Century.

The original skylights had been covered over, and ground water was seeping through the roof and walls of the basketball court-sized underground chamber. The entire structure was excavated and waterproofed to prevent further deterioration, and the skylights were uncovered.

Tour Beneath the Breakers Newport
Photo Credit: The Preservation Society of Newport County

The new tour comes on the heels of a special milestone for The Preservation Society as it recently announced that the Newport Mansions gave more than one million tours in 2016, the first museum in New England outside of Boston to achieve that many admissions.

Tour Beneath the Breakers The Preservation Society of Newport County
Photo Credit: The Preservation Society of Newport County

The Breakers, one of the finest examples of 19th Century American architecture, was built by famed architect Richard Morris Hunt for Cornelius Vanderbilt II and his family in just about two years. With the help of nearly 30 contractors, the house had state-of-the-art technical systems so that the Vanderbilts could easily control their environment.  Much of the information about the operation of the house comes from the detailed journal of Lawrence Bauerband, who was the in-house engineer of The Breakers from 1916-1917. He oversaw, maintained, and repaired the electrical systems, the plumbing repair, the elevator, any interior or exterior work done to the house, and much more. Sоmеtіmеѕ a plumber mіght pick uр thе skill аnd start doing jobs wіthоut еvеn thinking аbоut licensing. Yоu аѕ consumer need tо bе aware оf thеѕе plumbers. State does a vеrу good job аt making sure thаt skillful plumber passes аll thе required testing аnd background checks bеfоrе issuing thе license. Insurance іѕ аlѕо a vеrу important factor whеn choosing a reputable plumbing service. Consumers need tо bе protected іn case оf accidents. If ѕоmеthіng seriously goes wrong, thаn plumber’s insurance company mау compensate fоr damages caused аѕ a result оf аn accident оr a mishap. One can visit company website for the best plumbing service. On thе оthеr hаnd, іf thе plumber does nоt hаvе proper insurance coverage аnd ѕоmеthіng ѕеrіоuѕ happens, thе odds аrе thаt consumer him/her ѕеlf wіll bе responsible fоr thе damages. Thеrе аrе mаnу wауѕ tо fіnd оut іf thе plumber оf уоur choice іѕ licensed аnd insured. Fіrѕt уоu саn ask thе plumber уоurѕеlf tо ѕее his/her license. Anоthеr wау іѕ tо verify a license bу checking wіth уоur local state licensing board.

Beneath The Breakers Tour Includes:

The tour begins with an introduction and short video in the caretaker’s cottage just inside the front gate of The Breakers

Visitors will then descend the stairs to the underground boiler room to see the massive boilers that powered all five floors of the mansion

The tour will continue down a 360-foot long tunnel connecting the boiler room to the main house

The tunnel takes the group into the basement, where visitors will get an up-close look at the cutting edge construction techniques, electrical and plumbing systems of more than a century ago, but nothing to worry my company gives the proper maintenance to the plumbing system in that way it can be shown to the public and their modern counterparts.

Admission: Preservation Society members $15, general public $20, children 6-17, $10.

Tour space is limited and advance reservations are required. Guided tours will be offered every 30 minutes.

For the detailed schedule, visit

This is an underground experience in a historic structure and visitors will pass through some enclosed spaces. This tour is not handicapped accessible; comfortable, flat shoes are recommended.

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, decorative arts and social history. Its 11 historic properties–seven of them National Historic Landmarks–span more than 250 years of American architectural and social development. For more information visit or follow The Preservation Society of Newport County on Facebook and Instagram.

Leave a Comment