Christmas at the Newport Mansions, an annual celebration by The Preservation Society of Newport County that delights visitors and helps to create unforgettable family memories, will begin on Saturday, November 18, 2017 and continue through January 1, 2018. The Breakers, The Elms and Marble House will each be decorated with beautiful trees, ornaments, fresh flowers, and evergreens, sure to invoke the spirit of Christmas in adults and children alike.
Dozens of volunteers, led by Curator of Historic Landscapes Jim Donahue and Gardens & Grounds Director Jeff Curtis, spend up to a month creating the magic of Christmas at the Newport Mansions. Volunteers assist with putting up trees, hanging ornaments, making garlands and wreaths, and decorating fireplace mantels, among other activities.
The decorations in each house – and in individual rooms – are tailored to match the historic decor. Throughout the three houses, there will be a total of 30 decorated Christmas trees of all sizes, plus thousands of poinsettias, fresh flowers, evergreens and wreaths. Windows in each mansion are lit with individual white candles.
New this year, on display in the kitchen of each mansion will be a large gingerbread model of the house, each created by a local pastry chef. Also new this year, in the butler’s pantry of The Breakers, a 9-foot Christmas tree will be decorated with ornaments made by 4th grade students at Newport’s Pell Elementary School.
The traditional 15-foot tall red poinsettia tree will once again be on view in the Great Hall of The Breakers. Made up of up to 150 individual plants, the poinsettia tree is a perennial visitor favorite. On the second floor loggia, model train reproductions of the Vanderbilt family’s New York Central Railroad will run through a vintage landscape, overseen by volunteers from the Little Rhody Division of the National Model Railroad Association.
At The Elms, a winter wonderland theme in the ballroom will feature period sleighs and lanterns, mannequins wearing vintage clothing, trees and a topiary horse. There will also be a “selfie” photo spot, where visitors can take their own photos surrounded by a gilded frame. Also on display at The Elms will be a collection of vintage toys.
Marble House will feature two new Christmas trees on its first floor, in the gold ballroom and the library, as well as a large fresh-cut tree outside the front door, decorated with white lights to complement the white candles in the windows.
Among the three houses there will be 24 decorated mantelpieces, each with its own theme. At Marble House, regional garden clubs will decorate the fireplace mantels in the second floor rooms in a competitive challenge. Each club will be given a subsidy for materials, and their creations will be judged by certified flower show judges.
Rosecliff Also Open in December
Rosecliff will be closed from November 18 to December 2 to accommodate rehearsals and performances of the Island Moving Company’s annual production of the “Newport Nutcracker” (www.islandmovingco.org for tickets). Rosecliff will reopen on December 3 for tours, including the exhibition “Pierre Cardin: 70 Years of Innovation” in the second floor gallery.
Visits with Santa Claus
Santa Claus will make a special trip to Newport from the North Pole to visit the houses in December. Children can visit with Santa Claus in a spectacular setting from noon to 3 p.m. at The Breakers on December 3, Marble House on December 10, and The Elms on December 17. The visit with Santa is included in the regular admission price. Don’t forget your camera!
Holiday Evenings at the Newport Mansions
Holiday Evenings at the Newport Mansions recreate the ambience of an evening soirée during the Gilded Age. These open house evenings allow guests to stroll at their leisure through the decorated house, listening to live holiday music and enjoying cookies, eggnog and cider. Holiday Evenings at The Breakers are scheduled for Saturdays, November 25, December 2, 9, 23 and 30, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. On December 16, guests can enjoy a Holiday Evening Duet: The Elms and Marble House, and see both of those houses for the price of one, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Admission to Holiday Evenings is $35 in advance, $45 day-of the event. Children 6-17 are admitted for $10 in advance, $15 day-of. Children under the age of 6 are admitted free. Preservation Society members enjoy reduced admission, $30 in advance, $35 day-of. On December 16, a single ticket provides admission to The Elms and Marble House, as well as shuttle service operating between the two houses. More information and 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 annualMembers’ Sale from November 16-19. Preservation Society members enjoy 25% off all purchases at The Breakers, The Elms, Marble House and the downtown Newport store at Bannister’s Wharf, as well as online at www.NewportStyle.net.
The stores will also host book signings, food tastings and other shopping events throughout the season. For details, check our Events Calendar atNewportMansions.org.
Holiday Operating Schedule
The Christmas season begins on Saturday, November 18, 2017. The Breakers, The Elms and Marble House will be fully decorated and open daily for tours, except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, through January 1, 2018. In addition, Rosecliff will close briefly from November 18 to December 2 to accommodate the “Newport Nutcracker”, but will reopen on December 3 for tours and visits to the exhibition. A Winter Passport ticket providing daytime admission to all four houses can be purchased for $30 for adults, $10 for children 6-17. Children under the age of 6 are admitted free. Individual house tickets are also available. Tickets can be purchased online at www.NewportMansions.org, or at each property.
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.