Luxury Living | Iconic Grand Estates of America
People of enormous wealth have always been building stately mansions and grand estates to showcase their wealth and social standing and love to lavish their homes with the best that money can buy.
Early American homes were modeled after the grand manors of Europe and today we are going to explore some of these famous homes (all built in the late 1800’s) which are now considered national landmarks.
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The Breakers Mansion – Newport, Rhode Island
Owned by rich American industrialist Cornelius Vanderbilt ll, The Breakers was one of Newport’s largest and most opulent “summer homes” ever built. Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, it is named for waves crashing into the rocks below the 13-acre estate and resembles a 16th century Italian Renaissance seaside palace.
The solid stone mansion has a sculpted 30-foot high iron gate entrance and 70 rooms spread over 5 floors with gilt cornices, rare marble, wedding cake painted ceilings and prominent chimneys. Grand spaces include the gentleman and ladies’ reception rooms, library, music room, morning room, billiards room, dining room, breakfast room and the 45-foot-high ceiling Great hall.
Today it is a national historic landmark and most visited attraction in the state of Rhode Island with 400,000 visitors annually.
Astor’s Beechwood Mansion – Newport, Rhode Island
Real estate mogul William Blackhouse Astor, Jr and his wife Caroline purchased and restored this mansion in 1881. With wall paper imported from Paris it is noted for its elegance and stunning ocean views.
For 25 years the mansion was the centre of Newport’s high society and a showplace for Mrs. Astor’s social activities, including her renowned Summer Ball where only the very wealthy and social elite could attend. In modern times, guided living history tours with actors in period dress were held with some visitors reporting strange activity that the house was haunted.
Vanderbilt Marble House – Newport, Rhode Island
Railroad baron William K Vanderbilt spared no expense in building this house for his wife, Alva’s 39th birthday. Costing $11 Million to build, this mansion’s temple front portico has been compared to that of the White House with $7 million of white Westchester marble covering its walls. With 4 levels and 50 rooms, which kept a staff of 36 servants, it has been used in several films including The Great Gatsby (1974) and The Buccaneers (1995). It is open to the public as a museum.
Biltmore Estate – Asheville, North Carolina
This prominent house took hundreds of workers and 5 years to complete for George Washington Vanderbilt. Created in the style of a French Renaissance chateau it is 175,000 square feet with 255 rooms. Vanderbilt would take extensive trips to all continents of the world to find furnishings for his home.
Although open for tours with 1 million visitors a year, Biltmore estates remains the largest privately-owned home in the United States.
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