Set among the many mansions on Newport’s Bellevue Avenue, Rosecliff was often the setting of lavish parties, including an evening featuring famous magician Harry Houdini. But the property wasn’t always quite so grand. The story begins in the late 1880s when Nevada silver heiress Theresa Fair Oelrichs spent a summer in Newport and met her husband Hermann Oelrichs at Rosecliff. A year after they were married, the couple bought the mansion and additional property along Bellevue Avenue.
In 1899, the couple hired an architect and commissioned a home modeled after the Grand Trianon, the garden retreat of French kings at Versailles. It took three years to complete at a cost of $2.5 million. Rosecliff’s last private owners, Mr. and Mrs. J. Edgar Monroe of New Orleans, later donated the furnished home to The Preservation Society of Newport County in 1971.
If you find the estate looks amazingly familiar on your first visit, don’t be alarmed. Scenes from many movies, including The Great Gatsby, True Lies, Amistad and 27 Dresses, were shot here.
An audio tour is included with admission to Rosecliff. Plan for an hour and a half to explore the estate. The operating schedule at Rosecliff varies according to the season, and free off-street parking is available. Children are welcome, but strollers are not permitted inside the mansion.