Marble House

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Marble House, Newport, Rhode Island.
Marble House, Newport, Rhode Island.

Marble House is one of the Gilded Age mansions of Newport, Rhode Island, now open to the public as a museum. It was designed by the architect Richard Morris Hunt, and said to be inspired by the Petit Trianon at Versailles (which it resembles in little more than pillasters and balustrades).

Marble House was built between 1888 and 1892 for William Kissam Vanderbilt, grandson of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt. The house was a social landmark that helped spark the transformation of Newport from a relatively relaxed summer colony of wooden houses to the now legendary resort of opulent stone palaces. It was reported to cost $11 million, of which $7 million was spent on 500,000 cubic feet (14,000 m³) of marble. Upon its completion, Mr. Vanderbilt gave the house to his wife Alva Erskine Smith as her 39th birthday present. William Vanderbilt's older brother Cornelius Vanderbilt II subsequently built the grandest of Newport cottages, The Breakers, between 1893 and 1895.

After the Vanderbilts divorced in 1895, Alva married Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont, moving down the street to Belcourt Castle. After his death, she reopened Marble House and added a Chinese Tea House on its seaside cliffs, where she hosted rallies for the womens' right to vote. She sold the house to Frederick H. Prince in 1932. The Preservation Society of Newport County acquired the house in 1963 from the Prince estate.

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