Homes

I am building up a collection of Vanderbilt and associated homes as I work through the family tree.

640 Fifth Avenue (Manhattan,  New York) — Home of Gen. Brigadier Cornelius Vanderbilt III, great-grandson of the Commodore, son of Cornelius Vanderbilt II & Alice Claypoole Gwynne.  According to the Wikipedia entry, this three-story brownstone was left to him by George Washington Vanderbilt.

660 Fifth Avenue (Manhattan, New York) – built by family favorite architect, Richard Morris Hunt, for William K. & Alva Erskine Vanderbilt.

Beacon Towers (Sands Point, New York) – home built by Alva Erskine Smith Vanderbilt, wife of William Kissam Vanderbilt.  [More about Beacon Towers]

Biltmore Estate (Asheville, North Carolina) – built by George Washington Vanderbilt II.  Currently, the largest private residence in the country. [Official Website]

Blenheim Palace (Woodstock, Oxfordshire, England) — Consuelo Vanderbilt, after marriage to the Duke of Marlborough, became mistress of this palace.  [Official Website | Wikipedia Entry]

Breakers (Newport, Rhode Island) - Home of Cornelius Vanderbilt II and wife Alice,  next to Vinland Estate, the home of Cornelius’ sister Florence. Built from 1893-1895.  Their granddaughter Sylvia sold the estate to the Preservation Society of Newport County in 1972.  Sylvia’s children currently live in a restricted area of the home; the rest being open to tourists.  [Official Website | Wikipedia Entry]

Elm Court Estate (Lenox, Massachussetss) – Home of Emily Thorn Vanderibt (granddaughter of the Commodore) and William Douglas Sloane.  [Official website]

Florham (Madison, New Jersey) – Home of Florence Vanderbilt & husband Hamilton McKay Twombly.  Sold after Florence’s death to Fairleigh Dickinson University. [History of the Estate]

Great Camp Sycamore - estate owned by the Alfred Vanderbilt family from 1901-1954. Located in Raquette Lake, NY. [Official Website]

High Lawn Farms (Lee, Massachussetts) – was the family estate of Lila Vanderbilt Sloane Field and husband William Broadhurst Osgood Field.  In 1935, the estate was taken over by their daughter, Marjorie, and her husband H. George Wilde. The farm is a dairy farm with an original mission to develop a New Jersey cow that would last long in a herd.  [Official Website]

Idle Hour (Oakdale, Long Island) – home of William Kissam Vanderbilt Sr and wife Alva Erskine Smith.  The home burned down in 1899.  A second mansion was erected and now is part of the campus of Dowling College.

Marble House (Newport, Rhode Island) — built by Richard Morris Hunt for William K. & Alva Vanderbilt. [Wikipedia Entry]

Rough Point (Newport, Rhode Island) – home of the Commodore’s grandson, Frederick William Vanderbilt.  Finished in 1892.  At the time of commissioning, the home was the largest one in Newport. Vanderbilt sold the home in 1906.  It was opened up as a museum in 2000. [Official Website |  Wikipedia Entry ]

Sagamore Farm (Glyndon, Maryland) - inherited by Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt Jr. on his 21st birthday from his mother, Mrs. Margaret Emerson Vanderbilt.  On the farm Alfred raised thoroughbred horses. [Wikipedia Entry]

Shelburne Farms (Shelburne, Vermont)- created in 1866 by Lila Vanderbilt & husband Seward Webb.  In 1972 it became a non-profit. [Official Website]

Vanderbilt Hall – mansion built in 1901 by Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt for his mistress Agnes O’Brien Ruiz.  The home is located in Newport, Rhode Island and is now a hotel.   [hotel website]

Vanderbilt Mansion @ Hyde Park (Hyde Park, New York) – built in 1895, this was the home of Frederick William Vanderiblt and wife Louise.  Frederick was a grandson of the Commodore, son of William Henry Vanderbilt.  The home is now listed as a National Historic Site with the National Park Service. [NPS Website]

Vinland Estate (Newport, Rhode Island)- Built in 1882 and sold to Florence Vanderbilt and husband Hamilton McKay Twombly in 1896. In 1955, after Florence’s death, her daughter donated it to Salve Regina University and it is now Mauley Hall.  It was right next door to The Breakers, the estate of Florence’s brother, Cornelius Vanderbilt II.  [ McAuley Hall | Wikipedia Entry]

59 thoughts on “Homes

  1. Pingback: Wordless Wednesday: Rough Point « Vanderbilt Family Genealogy

    • Don’t forget Willie K Jr’s townhouse built next to and connecting with Alva’s 660 5th Ave. Chateau. Built for he and bride Virginia Fair, sister of Tessie Oelricks of Rosecliff fame.
      I believe they were both torn down at same time in 20s for an office building.

      Reply
  2. 677 is supposed to be 640 Fifth Avenue.

    It was originally built by William Henry Vanderbilt, son of the Commodore. It was a triple house with the largest section for himself, and two smaller (but still grand) houses for two of his daughters, Margaret Vanderbilt Shepard, located at 2 West 52nd Street, and Emily Vanderbilt Sloane, located at 642 Fifth Avenue. After WHV died, he left it to his wife and youngest son, still living at home, and after Maria Kissam Vanderbilt died, it was George Vanderbilt’s alone. Later, Margaret sold her half, or third, to her sister Emily, who combined them into a house roughly the size of what her father’s, or brother’s now, was. George then leased the house to Henry Clay Frick to help subdue the debts incurred with the building of his famous Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. HCF lived there until 1914 when GWV died and the house reverted to the oldest son of his oldest brother. That was Cornelius Vanderbilt III. His father, Cornelius II (died in 1899) had disinherited “Neily” for marrying a woman named Grace Wilson. Her family had a reputation as being “fast” and gold diggers. It was luck that Neily should then years later, inherit the family mansion. (During the tenure of Grace and Neily, Emily Sloane, now White, sold her half of the house, which was demolished.) Grace Vanderbilt, upon seeing the interior for the first time, called it “the black hole of Calcutta” and called in prominent architect Horace Trumbauer to do a cellar-to-attic renovation. She reigned over society for many years from 640, until escalating property taxes and encroaching commercialization forced her to sell the manse. She moved to the William Starr Miller house further up Fifth Avenue in the early 1950s and the house was replaced with a banal, ordinary skyscraper.

    Reply
  3. Be sure to include:

    -660 Fifth Avenue, built by William K. and Alva Vanderbilt. (This house changed American architecture)

    -1 West 57th Street, built by Cornelius II and Alice Vanderbilt. After a large renovation and expansion, this house became the largest private home in NYC history.

    -Marble House, built by William K. and Alva Vanderbilt. Considered architect Richard Morris Hunt’s masterpiece.

    -Woodlea, built by Margaret Vanderbilt Shepard.

    -Elm Court, built by Emily Vanderbilt and WD Sloane. After many renovations, it has become the largest shigle-style house in America with 96 rooms.

    -Eagle’s Nest, built by William K Vanderbilt II. Sprawling Mediterreanean style estate on Long Island.

    -Beacon Towers, built by Alva Vanderbilt (now) Belmont. Built by Hunt and Hunt, the sons of her great friend and architect, Richard Morris Hunt.

    -477 Madison Avenue, built by Alva Vanderbilt (now) Belmont. Alva gave up 660 in her divorce with William K and then married Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont, a good family friend. They planned and started building this house together, but OHPB died before it was completed. Alva finished it as a tribute (if not a shrine) to her husband.

    Just a few more for the list.

    Reply
  4. 680 and 684 were built by William Henry Vanderbilt as gifts for his two younger daughters (the two not housed in 640; those were the two older daughters Margaret Shepard and Emily Sloane). If I remember correctly, 680 belonged to Florence Twombly and 684 belonged to Lila Webb. One was very Victorian and one was more Italianate. They kinda looked the same, mirror images maybe, but styled differently.

    Reply
  5. Considering that Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt was born and began his fortune in Staten Island, NY it is sad to report that there is little remaining of their legacy. The family mausoleum is located a the New Dorp Moravian Cemetery, Staten Island. The Commodore was born in Port Richmond, Staten Island, but that home is long gone and the location if not even marked. Commodore’s early fortune led him to build in Stapleton and that home was also demolished on the current site of the Art Deco style, Paramount Theatre, 564 Bay Street, Staten Island. Both sons, George and William Vanderbilt owned property on Staten Island and there may be a home remaining, but the history is unclear. Recently the home of Cornelius’ sister Alitia, married to NYS Senator LeBau’s former Gothic style cottage was demolished.

    Reply
    • wond’ring if that cottage you mention was the one i was familiar with as a child-on the beach in Eltingville, just below Woods of Arden road (this would be Fred. Olmstead former farmsite). It had a low stone wall around it…satelite image suggest this cottage, which as a child i was told was a Vanderbilt property, is no longer there. I am surprised to see no-one has mentioned the “mansion” at what is now the site of the newest New Dorp h.s.

      Reply
  6. Edward D’Antoni

    Just found your blog looking for more info on Beacon Towers, glad I am not alone in my fascination with all things Vanderbilt. Love history of wealth, love architecture, especially fascinated by lost or demolished estates, like Beacon Towers. Fortune’s Children and Glitter and Gold were great, also Vanderbilt Homes.

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  7. Just started reading “The Vanderbilt Women, Dynasty of wealth, glamour and tragedy”. great detail not seen in other Vanderbilt books or should I say things not covered.

    Reply
  8. Cornelius Vanderbilt II and his wife Alice purchased the original “The Breakers” from Pierre Lorillard IV in 1885 and extensively renovated it. Peabody & Stearns, the architects to the original house were hired for the renovations – of which included an addition to the dining room making it the largest in Newport. A small almshouse for the children for play was built near the Shepard Avenue entrance. The main house burned in late November 1892 from an overworked furnace, resulting in the fireproof manse seen today. The children’s cottage is the only structure remaining on the property from the Peabody & Stearns era.

    At the same time, Cornelius II had built in nearby Portsmouth, RI a family farm called “Oakland Farm” which included a casino (italian for casina or ‘small summer house’), stables, a barn, and acres of riding fields, forest, etc. Ponds were devoid of ice in winter and stored in the ice chests at The Breakers for use the following spring and summer. Whe CVII died in 1899, the property along with the bulk of his fortune passed to his son Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt. His death on the Lusitania in 1915 resulted in the passage of the house to his son. After several changes in ownership within the family, Oakland Farm succumbed to the wrecker’s ball and a developer’s dream. It currently is a residential subdivision located on RI Rt. 138 across from the Newport Polo Grounds.

    Reply
  9. You forgot about 3 Florida properties:
    one – a winter residence, built by William Kissam Vanderbilt, II [1878-1944] in 1920s, the biggest, on the privately owned Fisher’s Island, Miami (demolished and subdivided for development)

    and

    two summer residences in Palm Beach, both built by Harold Stirling Vanderbilt [1884-1970], “Villa Lantana”, architects Treanor & Fatio, Architects and “El Solano” at 721 S Country Road, architect Addison Mizner.

    Fisher’s Island estate had tennis and golf courses, multicar garage, stable, own marina and airport.

    El Solano was bought by John Lennon before his death.

    Reply
  10. As a matter of tangential interest–

    I work at the Florham campus of Fairleigh Dickinson University, and digital archiving is part of my job. Recently we digitized a number of accounting ledgers that mainly cover the Florham and Vinland estates. These ledgers were given to us by Edward Burden.

    The archive is located at http://www.fdu.edu/digitallibrary .
    In addition to the accounting ledgers, we’ve also digitized many historical photos of the Florham estate–both the grounds and the house. We are hoping to add more Florham-related materials in the near future (on a funding basis). Feel free to contact the College at Florham Library with any questions you may have about the archive (http://library.fdu.edu)

    Brigid Burke
    Technical Services and Digital Projects Librarian
    Fairleigh Dickinson University

    Reply
    • Cannot thank you enough for the posting of these photographs. They provide a glimpse of an estate that is often overlooked in Vanderbilt history. While the homes of the other family members are excellent, FVT actually managed to live here in the same gilded age style for her entire life. An accomplishment that is unparalleled in the family. I understand from other readings (and contact with the University) that her grandson took tons of photographs as the house was being disassembled after the death of Ruth. I look forward to the day when all of these will be available for us to enjoy ! Thank you again.

      Reply
  11. Hi,
    We are planning to renovate the William K. Vanderbilt Jr. home in Fisher Island completed in 1940.
    He lived there with his wife Rosamund Lancaster Warburton. Our main interest is obtaining INTERIOR pictures showing the style of furniture, colors of the rooms, lighting used on the project as well as any other items that will recreate the room feeling when it was occupied by the couple.

    Would it be possible for you to send us any pictures you may have, if any, of the INTERIORS of this house.

    Thanks in advance for the information that will be so valuable for our design selections.

    Reply
  12. My Uncle George and Aunt Sandra Meehan bought a 20 room mansion from a Vanderbilt family member located on the shore of Lake Worth, Palm Beach, Florida. It was their winter home in the 50′s-60′s. Do you have an address for that home?

    Reply
    • Hi Cher,

      I’d have to do some research to look this up, but if you’d like to get the property records, contact the Palm Beach Clerk & Comptroller’s office – they will have all the property records for the county. If you contact them, they will be able to help you find the property info – http://www.mypalmbeachclerk.com/. Good luck!

      Reply
  13. Re: 680 & 684 Fifth Ave. – My great-great-grandfather, John B. Snook designed the 5th Ave. 51st/52nd St. mansion for William H. Vanderbilt and two of his daughters [Mrs. Webb & Mrs. H. McKay Twombly] at 5th Ave. & 54th St.

    Reply
  14. Does anyone know where specifically within the city of New Brunswick, NJ William Henry Vanderbilt (1821-1885)was born? The address or at least the street the family lived on while living in New Brunswick?

    Reply
  15. Pingback: Where Was the Bellonia Hotel? « Vanderbilt Family Genealogy

  16. Ten Washington Place in New York City was a townhouse where he lived in 1876. It is listed in the book Fortunes Children by Arthur T. Vanderbilt II. My grandmother was a Vanderbilt and I would like to find out how she was related to the family.

    Reply
  17. Didn’t Richard M. Hunt design Buck Spring Lodge for George Vanderbilt? Are their any renderings/blueprints of this lodge? Thanks, Pam

    Reply
    • Pam; just found this website, but yes, Hunt did design- along with his son- a mountain lodge at the base of Pisgah Mountain, as a summer retreat for George Vanderbilt as part of the land holdings of the Biltmore Estate outside of Asheville, NC. The original drawings- plans and elevations- as well as a complete photographic documentation of its constructiona and use by the family still resides in the Biltmore archives on the Estate. The lodge foundations still remain just off the Blue Eidge Parkway, but the lodge and its outbuilidings were demolished by the US National Park Service as the parkway was being completed, around 1962.
      Bruce

      Reply
      • Thanks for that information. I just returned from a visit to BILTMORE
        This past weekend. I am so intrigued by this estate and the Vanderbilt history. I hope one day they will focus on Buckspring Lodge as part of George and Edith’s lives on the estate. I visited the site of the lodge and what a view of the Blue Ridge Mountains, breath taking is an understatement!

  18. Great site, Taneya! I grew up on Long Island in the 1960-70s and visited Eagle’s Nest (Centerport) many times. It has a wonderful planetarium and is still open to visitors.

    Do you know of any online resource that would list the employees of the Vanderbilts? I’m researching my family tree, and my maternal great-grandfather, Edward J. Doherty, was listed in his obit (died 1928) as a coachman and then chauffeur for the Vanderbilts in Manhattan. (In the 1910 and 1920 censuses he was listed as living with his family at 51st & Lexington.)

    Sorry if this is an inappropriate question, and thanks again for making your site available.

    Reply
    • Hi Paula,

      Thanks for the comment! I am not aware of any resource that lists their employees, but if I do think of any I will let you know. The best I can come up with right now is to perhaps consult a few of the books about the Vanderbilt family and check the indexes to see if your ancestor was mentioned in any of them.

      Reply
    • Hi Dee,

      I’m not aware myself of any Vanderbilt properties, but that does not mean that there aren’t. Do you happen to have a reason for thinking there may be some Vanderbilt properties there?

      Reply
  19. Re: Staten Island Vanderbilts. My Nelson family oral history includes a story about a great uncle ? Nelson being a chaufer to the Vanderbilts. Wish I could learn more about that.

    Reply
  20. Hello again–looking at Elizabeth’s comment–I should mention that Wendy Burden gave our library an employee card file. It shows the names, hire dates, salaries, and leaving dates of employees at Florham, Vinland, and I thought I also saw the 5th Avenue house mentioned in New York, but I’m not sure. I’m up to digitizing the “F’s” in the card file. I’m not at work today, but I can check for you tomorrow, to see if there is a Nelson on file as a chauffeur, and I can send you the scan of the card if you send me your e-mail (mine is bburke@fdu.edu). For everyone else, this file should be available by summer–I anticipate having the scanning done by the end of next week, but many cards are handwritten and will require text transcription in order for the cards to be full-text searchable. (If you didn’t see my previous comment, I work at FDU Madison Library, site of the Florham Estate–our digital archive is at http://www.fdu.edu/digitallibrary)

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for sharing this information Brigid! As a librarian myself, I love seeing libraries putting more material online in digital formats. Kudos to FDU. I’ll have to check out your collections sometime soon.

      Reply
  21. Bridgid

    Are there other photos of the Mansion at Florham that are not online? If so is there a way to access the other digital media? (I live in North Carolina where Biltmore is located so a day trip over to peruse them is not really an option.)

    Robert

    Reply
  22. Hello Robert–I’m sure that the digital archive doesn’t have everything yet. We have many slides that need conversion, and we keep getting material from other sources. A new book came out recently entitled “Florham: the Lives of an American Estate” that has some photos never before published, and I hope to add some of those to the digital collection. I’m also assured by the authors of that work that they have other unpublished photos, and I’m waiting to go through a file of those that was sent to me recently. When I update the archive again I’ll post here, and if you want to email me about something specific, I’ll see what I can find.

    Reply
  23. Thanks so much, especially for the book information. I will order it from the University as soon as I complete this email. Are there any other books available about the Mansion?

    I read somewhere that before the contents were auctioned off, photos were taken of the interiors by Carter Burden. Would also love to have a copy of the auction catalog. Any help will be most appreciated.

    Robert

    Reply
  24. Hello again, Robert– I don’t think there are too many books about the Florham Mansion itself–this new book seemed to fill a void. I compiled a subject guide to our materials (and some external resources) about the estate and the Twombly family. The link to the guide is here:

    http://fdu.libguides.com/content.php?pid=198411&sid=1659727

    I do know about the auction catalog–it’s in 2 parts, about 300 pages total. Looks like it’s worth a digital scan, I’ll talk to the archivist here, and add it to my list of projects. I will let you know when I do post it.

    If you have questions about the material in the physical Florham Archives, the best person to contact is Eleanor Friedl, who curates that collection. Her e-mail is friedl@fdu.edu .

    Hope all this helps!

    Reply
  25. I purchased the book from the University yesterday. Can’t wait for it to arrive. Thank you for the link. I have seen some of the photos on the site before but it appears more have been added. Like the idea that they can be enlarged as they are viewed.

    Looked for copies of the auction catalog. Have found the second day but as of yet have not found a copy of the first day of the auction and all the library copies are far from NC.

    Thank you very much for your help. Florham is fascinating to me because Ms. Twombly continued to live there in splendor well into the 20th century when most or all of her brothers and sisters homes were sold off, destroyed or converted to museums. A grand dame indeed!

    Reply
  26. Hello,

    The Twombly name is the married name for one of 19th Century architect John Butler Snook’s daughters, which I’ve seen in a CV I have for him – my great-great-grandfather – he had quite a career in 19th Cent. NYC for the most part – hundreds of commissions & buildings standing to this day ! I have the deed to the family cemetery plot in Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn, which he established and designed the headstone.

    John Geering Snook

    Reply
  27. Re: 640 Fifth Ave………Wm. H. Vanderbilt did indeed, in his will, leave it to his wife (Maria Kissam Vanderbilt) and upon her death to son, George (Biltmore) Then according to WHV’s will, in the event George left no male heir, ownership went to eldest son, of eldest son…who turned out to be disinhierted Corneilus III – married to Grace Wilson, whose siblings included May Goelet, Belle Herbert and brother Orme married to Carrie Astor, daughter of THE Mrs. Astor. It was Grace who had Horace Trumbauer redesign the interior to reflect her “French” personality. Corneilus III was fortunate (?) in this instance only since his older Brother William H. Vanderbilt II, had passed away May of 1892 while a student at Yale. It is believed that Grace and he had “an understanding”, and this is one of the factors that Corneilus and Alice disliked about Grace…they felt she was merely after a Vanderbilt.

    Reply
  28. Re: The Breakers…see Jason above. Just a small clearification…..when Cornelius died in 1899, Oakland Farms went to Alfred along with the bulk of the money. The residences were (NYC and Breakers) left to his widow Alice. When Alice passed away in 1934, both her homes went to youngest daughter, Gladys (Countess Laszlo Szechenyi), who allowed beginning in 1948, the public to enter) on behalf of the Preservation Society of Newport County, but reserved family usage of the 3rd floor. She charged the Society $1.00 yearly, and continued to pay the taxes, insurance, and all maintenance costs. Upon her death in 1965, “The Breakers” went to her daughter Sylvia – Countess Anthony Szparyi. It was her heirs who in turn sold it to the Society in 1972, still maintaining 3rd floor usage clause,….(for the little sum of $365,000)…..yet the furnishings remain property of her heirs.

    Reply
  29. Re: The Breakers/Oakland Farm; Thanks Paul for the info. It is understood that Oakland Farm went to Alfred when CVII passed. He used the property mostly as a year-round residence, though he traveled abroad quite frequently, and had an apartment at The Plaza & Vanderbilt Hotel in NYC. Alfred had (largely) financed the construction of the Newport YMCA on Mary Street in memory of his father.
    The Newport YMCA building still stands, but as a boutique hotel/club now.

    When Alice sold 1 West 57th Street in 1925, her daughter Gertrude Whitney, purchased the former George Gould house at 1 East 67th Street and gave the residence to her mother. Alice lived there until her death on April 22, 1934; aged 88. In the will, Alice left 1 East 67th and The Breakers to her youngest daughter Gladys (Countess Szechenyi). Gertrude received the proceeds from the sale of 1 West 57th Street (approx. $7.1m) and the furnishings to 1 East 67th. Son, Cornelius III “Neily” inherited the Gwynne Building in downtown Cincinnati (Alice commissioned cousin, Ernest Flagg to construct a building in memory of her father, Abram Gwynne), headquarters to Proctor & Gamble. There was a trust, annual income split amongst the children and grandchildren.

    Countess Szechenyi (nee Gladys Moore Vanderbilt) lived in The Breakers part-time from 1934-1937 during the summer season. Other residences included 1 East 67th Street in NYC, 2929 Massachusetts Avenue NW Washington DC (I believe owned by the Hungarian government, though I’d have to check my notes), the Szechenyi townhouse on Andrassy Street in Pest (now Budapest, Hungary and currently the Russian Embassy), and a villa in Remete (burned). Her husband died in 1938. The summer of 1937 was one of the last seasons The Breakers was in full use in the grand tradition – the summer highlight was a debutante ball for daughter, Sylvia with a guest list exceeding 700.

    Throughout WWII, The Breakers was leased to the National Guard as an air raid shelter and used briefly for Szechenyi family members from London during the Blitz of 1940. The Countess, her daughters Sylvia and Nandine, along with daughter Cornelia and husband (E. Roberts) summered in Newport with sister, Gertrude at her estate on Bellevue Avenue “Whitney Villa” (burned December 1942, replaced with current “Seacliff” estate).

    In 1945, the Preservation Society of Newport County was formed by a group of citizens vying to save Hunter House in Newport’s Point district. The leader was Katherine U. Warren (wife of George H. Warren, brother of Grand Central Terminal architect Whitney Warren). She approached Countess Szechenyi for use of the ground floor of The Breakers for public viewing to raise funds for the society. The lease agreement was $1/year. Taxes and maintenance paid for by the Countess. In July 1948, The Breakers received its first paying visitors with the first month recording several thousand visitors in total. The family resided on the second and third floors, and ultimately the third floor as the tours increased.

    When she died in 1965; aged 79, the house went to the four surviving siblings; however, ownership was largely passed to Sylvia (Countess Anthony Szapary). Furnishings went to the children of Gladys; however, most of which have been donated to the Preservation Society.

    The Preservation Society was responsible for paying the taxes and maintenance 1965-1972; which resulted in the society acquiring the house (presumed the price was either based on property taxes/maintenance in 1972 or the value of the actual building in 1972 – most properties were reverse in value in Newport at that time…the land was more valuable than the house – hence a widespread threat to many of the mansions along Bellevue and Ochre Point Avenues for residential subdivision). Currently, the city of Newport lists the property valued at $33.5million, while Fireman’s Fund Insurance values the replacement value of the house at $350million, not including the furnishings.

    The house passed to the PSNC on December 24, 1972.
    Countess Szapary died on March 1, 1998; aged 79. Her children still reside seasonally at The Breakers to this day.

    Reply
  30. Jason…thanks for the very correct story. Having been a member of the Preservation Society for about 20 years, both family and friends tell me I should apply for a tour guide…which at this point is seasonal. Have been to Marble House, Hyde Park, Biltmore, Vinland, Shelbourne and are discussing trying the hospitality at Elm Court. Elm Court amazes me, having been boarded up and vandalized for 50 years. Again, do appreciate seeing the definite interest someone else has. They were a remarkable generation…the 3rd!

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  31. My pleasure Paul;
    Having lived in Rhode Island for the past 12 years, I have visited The Breakers frequently. It never ceases to amaze me. The tours there; however, have gone the way of technology via audio tours. Great tour – glad you can go through at your own pace. I would usually get stuck with a very younge college student just working to make money over the summer. No effort in “getting to know the house”.
    I’ve visited Marble House, Vinland, Hyde Park, Biltmore…even Rough Point (Frederick Vanderbilt’s house, better known as Doris Duke’s Newport estate). Even wento to the Met in NYC and saw the Augustus St. Gaudens fireplace for Cornelius II and Alice’s mansion at 1 West 57th Street. Impressive!
    The Preservation Society does wonderful work indeed. During the summer, if you’re in Newport – visit The Breakers Stables. I discovered that little gem last summer. Amazing displays and from time to time, the horses return to the stalls in back during the Coaching Weekend. It’s held every three years. The stables are not on the grounds, per se, but a few blocks away from The Breakers.

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  32. Jason: again my thanks for sharing. Yes, did the Stables back in 1995…when they were actively “pushing” it. It was the centennial of “The Breakers”. Were you aware there had been a 2nd floor that was lost to a fire. How did you manage Vinland……just walk in? Being part of Salve Regina, I suppose one could. Did just that at Orche Court, with my youngest daughter in tow, and was politely dismissed as they were setting up for a special Mass in the Great Hall. …and have done Rough Point 2x…….beautiful location! Would like to see the Society purchase Beaulieu (not for sale) and Clarenden Court (is for sale) We have time shares at Oceancliff, and spent 3/2-3/16 down there. Went thru Breakers again….just can’t get enough of it…and had an actual tour guide….who goofed up and left somethings completely out! The audio tours are great, especially the “side stories”. You’re up on me….seeing the mantle at the Met….I’ve seen the gates in Central Park…..very impressive! Attended a seminar for members obviously a number of years ago, with lunch served (sit down) in the Breakfast Room. Countess Szapary joined us and spoke. It was something I’ll never forget. Truly enjoying having the chance to share!

    Reply
  33. Hi Paul;
    Yes, Vinland – walk in. As long as school is in session. Sometimes it might be wise to visit the Admissions office and inquire. They’re usually pretty open about giving tours of some of their buildings.

    Stables;
    Yes, arson fire 1970. In protest over (was it Vietnam??) and a small explosive was thrown into the building. Neighbors rushed to rescue what they could (carriages, etc). The model train in the center room was from the personal collection of Countess Szapary.

    I’ve stayed at the Sherry-Netherland Hotel in NYC diagonal from Bergorf’s. The entrance vestibule has two bas reliefs done by Karl Bitter, who executed most of the overdoor sculptures at The Breakers. The reliefs at the hotel were removed from CVII’s porte cochere when the house was being salvaged.
    There are two rooms still in existence today; the petite salon is now a smoking room of sorts at the Midland Theater in Kansas City MO, and sections of Tiffany’s Moorish Room are now part of the entrance lobby to Syracuse’s Landmark Theater (the infamous “Vanderbilt chandelier” from the NYC house used to hang in the center of the lobby, until it was sold to private hands in the early 80s).

    What is your email as I have more information to share…?

    Reply
  34. How ’bout Sandy Point Farm in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, just two towns north of Newport on Aquidneck Island?

    Several years ago I thought something was up when I found these most amazing stone walls along the roadside…much more fancy and meticulously crafted than the typical stone walls around RI that date from the Colonial Era. I’m pretty sure I remember a really nice horse stable along the road, too.

    At the time, I had little knowledge of the Vanderbilts. I wonder if much of the original farm buildings survive? Sandy Point Farm gets some good exposure in Fortunes Children. I’d like to go back to check the area out again, now that I have just read the book and know what went on there.

    Anything interesting anyone can add?

    Reply
  35. Howard: if you do get back….please note the matching beautiful stone wall just across the road from Sandy Point. It is on this side that Cornelius II, (The Breakers) had Oakland Farms. He owned both properties, and upon his death, son Alfred received Oakland Farm, and son Reginald (Anderson Cooper’s grandfather) the Sandy Point property. Alfred perished on the Luisatania and Reggie died at Sandy Point. Both properties have been split and developed as basically private homes. At this point, do not believe any original buildings still exist, alto have seen ads for the Stables at Sandy Point.

    Reply
    • The Sandy Point Farm stable are still there, recently developed into condos. On the other side of Sandy Point Farm Road where it meets East Main St is a field that regularly still hosts a national polo circuit competition…I’m sure a direct result of Vanderbilt having been there…there’s not much else around, why else? Also a few streets up off East Main St there is a street called Vanderbilt Lane….though I didn’t know about them owning the other side of Sandy Point Farm Road. I agree, the walls over there are nicer than the typical slave built ones I’ve walked by for 20 years. Many thanks for the information !!

      Reply
  36. Howard: knew I had a book (paperback) purchased at the “Breakers”, shoppe. It was published 2003, author is James E. Garman…..entitled ” A History of the Gentlemen’s Farms of Portsmouth, R.I.”. In it are photos and stories about both Oakland Farm and Sandy Point Farm. (plus others). Try to find a copy…..you will enjoy! Brief facts…CVII purchased Oakland on 10/30/1886, leaving by his will to middle surviving son…Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, 125 acres and various buildings. AGV built a indoor Horse Ring (265feet X 125 wide, roof 65 feet high) The stable. next to the ring included stalls for at least 90 horses. Here I stand corrected, as the book states that “in 1902, Reginald Vanderbilt purchased Sandy Point Farm, a farm of approximately 180 acres at the end of Sandy Point Ave. in Portsmouth. The location of the farm was next door” to the Oakland Farm of his brother Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt”. Both brothers developed large breeding farms, with great interest in horses. Paul

    Reply
    • Paul. I find your vast knowlage of all things Vanderbilt extremely fascinating. I’m just now scraping the surface of their extraordinary family background/legacy. I
      would love to ask you many questions. I find the whole Alva & Consuela saga tragic & compelling. I just read a couple of books about them. My email address is tlevan@columbus.rr.com if you would be kind enough to contact me with more info. Thank you. Tim LeVan

      Reply
  37. Just a little Vanderbilt info. The Vanderbilt’s started a construction supply company on Staten Island back in 1906 or 1908 named Vanbro Corp. the company was operational as a concrete, asphalt, aggregate and construction supply company until 2011. Since then Vanbro Corp. has shifted operations from construction supply to rail car storage and rail operations. The companies operations are still run day to day by Cornelius Vanderbilt and Robert Vanderbilt who are cousins. “Neil” looks almost exactly the same as his great great grandfather! Also these Vanderbilt’s have endured many family tragedies from dying in house fires to murder…all of which can be researched here on Staten Island. I know these two men personally and have worked for them for many years and they are true gentlemen. That’s my knowledge of the Vanderbilt’s and thought it would be of interest to most people here.

    Reply

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