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Christmas at the Newport Mansions is just one month away, and preparations are well underway to dress The Breakers (1895), The Elms (1901) and Marble House (1892) in their holiday finery.
Beginning November 21, 2015 and running through January 3, 2016, guests are invited to join The Preservation Society of Newport County to create holiday memories as they enjoy music, tours, a gingerbread mansion contest, shopping events and visits from Santa Claus at three of America’s most outstanding historic houses.
Each year, staff and volunteers spend a full month filling the three houses with festive holiday decorations, matching colors and themes to the décor of individual rooms. Some favorites return year after year, like the 15-foot-tall red poinsettia tree in the Great Hall of The Breakers, while each year new themes, ornaments and decorations are added to keep the experience fresh for returning visitors. Thousands of poinsettias, fresh flowers, evergreens and wreaths also fill the magnificent rooms.
New this year at The Breakers, the annual display of gingerbread mansions created by local bakers moves to the second floor loggia, creating a holiday village through which the garden scale model of the New York Central Railroad will travel. Six local bakers will compete to determine who can create the best replica of one of the Newport Mansions: Fatulli’s Gourmet Bakery & Deli of Middletown, RI; Edible Creations by Gerry of Westport, MA and Little Compton, RI; Russell Morin Catering & Events of Newport, RI; Muse by Jonathan Cartwright of Newport, RI; Dream Cakes by Elci of South Dartmouth, MA; and Bristol Community College Baking & Pastry Arts Program, Fall River, MA. Made entirely from edible materials, the gingerbread mansions will be on display starting Saturday, November 28.
A new feature at Marble House will be a competition among regional garden clubs, who have been challenged to decorate the second floor fireplace mantelpieces. Participating in the challenge are the Portsmouth Garden Club, Bristol Garden Club, Seaside Garden Club, South County Garden Club, Plum Beach Garden Club, Sakonnet Garden Club, Mattapoisett Woman’s Club and Newport Garden Club.
At The Elms, the ballroom will be transformed into a Gilded Age streetscape, complete with sleighs, mannequins wearing vintage clothing, and even a topiary horse and footman with lantern.
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Rosecliff Remains Open Through the Holidays
Also new this year, Rosecliff will remain open daily through January 3, featuring the exhibition “Newport and Her Southern Sisters: Three Centuries of Art & Design” in the renovated second floor gallery. The exhibition explores the relationship between Newport and the American South–from New Orleans, Charleston and Baltimore to Virginia’s fabled plantations and resorts and the winter playground of Palm Beach.
Visits with Santa Claus
Santa Claus will take a break from his own Christmas preparations 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 6, Marble House on December 13, and The Elms on December 20. The visit with Santa is included in the regular admission price. Eggnog and cookies will be served, and don’t forget a camera!
Holiday Evenings at the Newport Mansions
Holiday Evenings at the Newport Mansions give guests a unique opportunity to experience the historic mansions lit up for night time festivities. The experience includes a leisurely self-guided tour through the house, live holiday music and a stop for cookies and pastries, eggnog and cider. Holiday Evenings at The Breakers are scheduled for Saturdays, November 28 and December 5, 12, and 26, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. On December 19, guests can enjoy a Holiday Evening Duet: The Elms and Marble House, and see both of the 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 19, a single ticket provides admission to The Elms and Marble House, as well as shuttle service operating between the two houses. More information, including the schedule of Holiday Evening entertainment, and advance tickets are available online at www.NewportMansions.org, or call (401) 847-1000.
New this year will be a special Members Holiday Open House, on Thursday, December 10 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Preservation Society members are invited to this exclusive event by registering online at www.NewportMansions.org/Join-and-support, or by calling (401) 847-1000 ext. 111.
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 annual Members’ Sale from November 19-22. 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 at NewportMansions.org.
Newport Nutcracker at Rosecliff
From November 27 to December 4, you can be a part of the classic holiday tale as you follow the Island Moving Company’s dazzling performers through the spectacular setting of Newport’s most romantic mansion. For more information and tickets, visit www.islandmovingco.org.
Holiday Operating Schedule
The Christmas season begins on Saturday, November 21, 2015. The Breakers, The Elms and Marble House will be fully decorated and open daily for tours, except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, through January 3, 2015. In addition, Rosecliff will be open daily, except November 21 through December 6, for tours and visits to the exhibition. A Winter Passport ticket providing daytime admission to any three houses can be purchased for $29.49 for adults, $9 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. The Breakers, The Elms and Rosecliff open daily at 9 a.m., Marble House opens at 10 a.m. The last tour admission at all houses is at 4 p.m. and the houses and grounds close at 5 p.m.
Beginning January 4, The Breakers, The Elms and Marble House will all remain open daily through the winter months.
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.