Built as a summer residence, The Elms is one of almost a dozen properties cared for by Rhode Island's Preservation Society of Newport County. It was designed and constructed in 1901. Modeled after the mid-18th century French chateau d'Asnieres (c.1750) outside Paris, it cost the Berwind family approximately $1.4 million to build. (Calling both Philadelphia and New York home, Edward Berwind made his fortune in the coal industry.) After the house was finished, elaborate gardens were planted in the early 1900s.
The house remained in the Berwind family until 1961. The Preservation Society of Newport County purchased The Elms in 1962 and opened it to the public. In 1996, it was designated a National Historic Landmark.