Saturday, August 24, 2013

My Backyard - Rosecliff Mansion, Newport, RI

Another day. Another mansion. And another happy day for this blogger!

Hubby and I grabbed a rare day off from grandkid duty and hightailed it out of our house. (i.e. NOT a mansion.) It was no surprise where we wanted to go. One of our fav places to head to on a bright, warm sunny summer day - Newport. The place just calls to us. The water. The sail boats. The food. The history. All of it.

First stop:  The Corner Café. If you're ever in Newport, for whatever reason, you've got to try this place. An unassuming little restaurant in the center of town. Maybe seats 40 diners? And almost always a wait. On this particular morning, we were told it'd be about 20 minutes. So we gave our name to the hostess and strolled down the sidewalk and down a side street. Just meandering and chatting. Enjoying picture-perfect weather that seemed to be tailor made for our spur of the moment excursion.

We soon came upon a small cemetery
and historical marker honoring John Clarke, a Newport founding father and considered to be the founder of the Baptist faith in America. Dr. Clarke along with other Baptist ministers and their families were laid to rest in this small burial ground. We learned Dr. Clark created a will in 1676 establishing an educational trust fund still ongoing to this day - the oldest charitable trust in the United States.

After reading about the Newport Baptist minister, we made our way back to the Corner Café. Within 5 minutes we were seated at a table and perusing a mouth watering menu. So many fantastic, eclectic choices to choose from! I finally narrowed it down to 3 items and basically did the old eenie meenie miney mo to pick one! It all sounded yummy! Ok, so I finally settled on the West Coast Breakfast Burrito and hubby, after deliberating over his own menu dilemma, ordered the Irishman Omelet. We both ordered from the tantalizing specialty coffee drink menu. Oh my, did we make the right choices. Totally tasty! Very pleased with what we ordered and will be back again soon!

So now with hunger satisfied, we headed off to Mansion #3: Rosecliff!
The house, while not as big as the two mansions we visited previously, was just as grand. Completed in 1902, it was built for silver heiress, Theresa "Tessie" Fair Oelrichs, and fashioned after the French garden retreat at Versailles. It was the setting for many lavish Newport parties, including one that featured the master magician himself, Harry Houdini. (We learned that the Mansion can be rented out for private parties, but no I didn't ask "how much". How's that old saying go? "If you have to ask, you probably can't afford it." Ha! So true!)

Like our previous tours, we took advantage of the self-guided audio tour using the hand-held electronic device and headphones. By doing so, visitors can get so much more interesting info about the house and those who lived in it than by just exploring room to room on one's own. The audio provides personal insight gleaned from the residents' diaries, letters, records and oral histories.

While the Newport palace doesn't have as many rooms as the others we had visited, it seemed to have as many fine furnishings and priceless antiques. Beautiful artwork and portraits adorn the walls. The cloud ceiling in the ballroom is breathtaking. A grand staircase highlights a heart-shaped opening to the second floor. But what I really loved was ogling the women's fashions found on display in the costume galleries on the second floor. The exhibit features 20th century haute couture from world famous designers like Halston, Chanel, and Givenchy. It highlights the dramatic changes in the female silhouette throughout the 1900's. Absolutely stunning!

The tour took less than 2 hours. We handed in our headphones and headed outdoors to stroll the impressive grounds. The first thing to assail the senses is the clean, salty ocean air. The far edge of the property abuts the famed cliff walk and beyond that the Atlantic Ocean. A beautiful sight to see on this warm, sunny day. Gosh, I so wish I could live on the coast; I really feel like a sense of belonging when I'm there.

Since the day was still young, we decided to cruise back over the Newport bridge to Conanicut Island to visit Jamestown before going home to our hum-drum modest little abode. (What a let-down after seeing such a beautiful manse.) Our first stop was East Ferry Wharf in the village center. We purchased some juice at Spinnaker's Cafe and plopped ourselves down on a bench to gaze at the anchored flotilla of sailboats and fishing trawlers of all shapes and sizes. We watched as the Newport Ferry pulled up to the pier to drop off and pick up passengers. I closed my eyes and took a deep cleansing breath of salty ocean air, enjoying that peaceful, easy feeling.

Once our thirst was quenched, we hit the road again. We followed the winding coastal island road, taking in the quaint rural scenery along the way. The road ended at Beavertail State Park. Home of the Beavertail Lighthouse, built in 1856, that sits on a rocky bluff overlooking the entrance of Narragansett Bay. The water views from this vantage point are breathtaking. And we weren't the only ones enjoying the tranquil vista. We were joined by joggers, bicyclists, fishermen, and dog walkers and lots of soaring seagulls. We vowed to return to explore more, visit the museum and aquarium, perhaps with the grandchildren. They'd love to see this!

Unfortunately, our freedom is almost over for the day. Grandparent duty calls us home, back to said above referenced small abode. Hubby points the car out of the park, due north. Back to reality. Back to obligations, responsibilities. Yuk!

Oh well. We did have a great time. It was another beautiful day in Newport County. And of course, we ended the day knowing we need to go back for more. Lots more. But at least we're slowly but surely checking off items on my Newport bucket list!

1 comment:

  1. I agree, there's so much in Newport to see, visitors just have to return!


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