Stop #6 – The Breakers

Quick Facts
LocationNewport, Rhode Island
📍41°28′11″N 71°17′55″W
DesignationNational Historical Landmark
EstablishedBuilt 1895
Official Website

Located at 44 Ochre Point Avenue in Newport, Rhode Island, The Breakers was built as the summer residence for Cornelius Vanderbilt II, of THE Vanderbilt family. Taking two years to build, during the Gilded Age, the 70-room mansion has 62,482 sq ft of living area across five floors. Sixty-Four Thousand Freaking Square Feet! The house alone encompasses 1-acre of the 14-acre property.\

Do you ever just read something so interesting that you, outloud, say “Huh”? Well, when I read all of this, I did just that. Ok, here we go, let’s talk about the residents of The Breakers.

Cornelius died of a cerebral hemorrhage just after 4 years after completing the mansion ?. He left the estate to his wife, Alice Gwynne Vanderbilt, who got to enjoy the property for another 35 years. Alice left The Breakers to her youngest, American property-less, daughter, Countess Gladys Széchenyi – Gladys’ siblings had no interest in the property and she had always ❤️ the property. 12 Years later, Gladys leased the high-maintenace property to The Preservation Society of Newport County for $1/year. Gladys’ daughter, Countess Sylvia Szapary sold The Breakers and about 90% of its furnishings in 1972 for $365,000 to The Preservation Society (did they get a great deal?). This agreement granted the Countess tenancy for life. When she died in 1998, The Preservation Society agreed to allow the family to continue to live on the third floor of the mansion, which is closed to the public.

After The Preservation Society built a new welcome center on the grounds in 2018, Gladys and Paul Szápáry, the Vanderbilt heirs moved out. Some say it was payback for their opposition to the new welcome center.

The Breakers receives about 450,000 visitors annually and is the most visited attraction in Rhode Island.

The property is also home to a garden that has many unusual, rare, and imported trees and bushes such as the Blue Atlas Cedar (a North Africa naive), Japanese Yew, Pfizer Junipers, and Copper and Weeping Beeches.

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