The Breakers, the crown jewel of the Newport mansions and the summer estate of Cornelius Vanderbilt II, is an architectural and social archetype of the Gilded Age. The 70-room, four-story structure was built in 1895 and designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt, who modeled it after 16th-century Italian Renaissance palaces.
Vanderbilt, the grandson of railroad tycoon Commodore Vanderbilt, spared no expense in designing this lavish Gilded Age temple, installing a high entrance gate that weighs over seven tons; using gold leaf and rare marble; and bringing in painters from Europe to create mural-size baroque paintings. Inside, all the furnishings on view are original. Outside, open-air terraces give way to breathtaking ocean views. The Preservation Society of Newport County purchased the house in 1972, and today it is a National Historic Landmark, part of the Bellevue Avenue Historic District.
To visit the Breakers, you must arrange a tour through the Preservation Society of Newport County. Many Breakers tours are available, some departing from as far away as Boston and New Hampshire. Local tours of Newport include city sightseeing with admission to the Breakers and sometimes Marble House as well.
Things to Know Before You Go
- During the busy summer months, tours do sell out. Purchase a tour ahead of time to avoid disappointment, or ensure your admission as part of a more comprehensive guided Newport tour.
- Flash-free photography is allowed inside the Breakers, but tripods and other equipment are not.
- The Breakers, Marble House, the Elms, and Rosecliff are partially wheelchair accessible; please call ahead for more information.
- Children are welcome at the Breakers, but strollers are not allowed inside the house.
How to Get There
The Breakers is located on Ochre Point Avenue in Newport, Rhode Island. About a half-mile west of the house is the Breakers Stable & Carriage House, which houses an exhibit on the New York Central Railroad.
When to Get There
The Breakers mansion is open year-round for tours and is busiest in the summer, when Newport plays host to vacationers from all over the East Coast and beyond.
Other Historic Newport Cottages
The Breakers is part of a group of historic cottages under the auspices of the Newport Preservation Society. Most of them are within walking distance of one another, and include Rosecliff, Marble House, the Elms, Chepstow, Hunter House, the Isaac Bell House, Chateau-sur-Mer, Kingscote, and the Green Animals Topiary Garden. Some excursions include admission and guided tours of some or all of the houses.