Marble House

This home was the 39th birthday present of Alva Vanderbilt from her husband William. It was built between 1888 and 1892 of 500,000 cubic feet of marble and held 50 rooms. The Vanderbilt’s also had homes in Long Island, South Carolina, Florida, the EU, and Cuba.

Here they summered 6 weeks a year with their 3 children.

The Grand Entrance

The Formal Dining Room

It was in this Dining Room, Alva, (Mrs. William Vanderbilt), breakfasted with her 3 children. During meals the children were only allowed to speak French.

Alva, was raised in France as this is where her family settled after loosing their money in the Civil War. Educated and groomed in France she was inspired by all things French which are seen in this Room’s decor. The Dining Room was inspired by a Salon at Versailles. The walls surrounding the room hold a collection of French courtesans portraits.

Richard Morris Hunt known in most circles as, “the Vanderbilt architect,” created Marble House as well as other buildings throughout Newport. Here he resided, built his first home, and married a local woman, Catherine Clinton Howland. They had 2 sons. Mr. Hunt is buried in Newport Island Cemetery in a memorial designed by Daniel Chester French, the creator of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Alva Vanderbilt was a fascinating woman. She was a leader in the Suffragette movement and often had meetings in the tea house to the rear of the Mansion. She divorced William after 26 years of marriage and married a Newport neighbor whom she remained married to for the rest of her life. An interesting read of this era is Lost Newport by Paul F. Miller.

Here is where Alva held her meetings, and now a great place for light fare.

Cliffwalk View From the Tea House

Returning to the Mansion – The Library

The Gothic Room – a collection of Medieval and Renaissance art from France.

Consuelo Vanderbilt, the daughter of Alva and William, was forced into a loveless marriage with the Duke of Marlborough by her mother. Her mother yearned for a royal connection for her family, and European royalty often sought out American heiresses to replenish their fortunes. Thus, Consuelo became a scapegoat. She stayed in this marriage for over 20 years, bearing 2 sons.

At the time of Consuelo’s divorce Alva testified she forced her daughter into the marriage. Consuelo received her divorce and the Duke 2.2 million a year for life. Consuelo later remarried, happily, to Jacques Belsan, a French aviator and industrialist.

Consuelo Vanderbilt

Consuelo’s Bedroom

William Vanderbilt remarried to Ann Harriman, and moved to France where he remained the rest of his life. He contributed and volunteered in the air corp during World War I receiving the Legion of Honor from the French Government.

Marble House was sold in the 1930’s to the family of Armour Meat Packing.

Marble House – sea side views.

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