Newport, Rhode Island
Rosecliff Newport Reviews
Jul 11, 2007
The guided tour of Rosecliff begins in the Grand Salon near the unique staircase (the curves of the two stairwells create a heart shape). The fireplace is a mix of well-carved stone and carefully-molded plaster. This feature sets the pace for the intricate designs around and on the ceilings throughout the rest of the mansion, so much that Rosecliff can be viewed as a “symphony of molded plaster.”
Its ballroom—the largest in Newport—is an airy space thanks to the doors that line both long sides of the room and can be opened to terraces. A mural of a light blue sky spotted with clouds continues to bring the outdoors inside. Here, many a ball occurred including the White Ball in 1904. White flowers filled the house, women were allowed to wear only white dresses (and if your hair was dark, you had to powder it or wear a wig). Theresa Oelrichs, the hostess, asked the US Navy to move the fleet—the Great White Fleet—to the water behind the property to add interest to the view. When they refused, she ordered props shaped like ships to fill the water.
The downstairs tour includes the study (a lot of furniture) and the dining room (very little furniture although the Austrian stove is an interesting piece). Upstairs, visitors are free to wander through the bedrooms and sitting areas at their own pace. While I visited an exhibit featuring clothing styles from Vogue magazine 1880-1900 waited throughout the rooms. (I’m so glad women’s swimsuits have lost a few inches since then!)
What sets Rosecliff apart from the other mansions is not simply its architectural features but its connection to the box office. Scenes from seven different movies have been filmed on its property beginning with The Great Gatsby, continuing through True Lies, Amistad, and more recently, Evening and the yet-to-be-released 27 Dresses.
As a side note given to us by our tour guide, Rosecliff can be rented for a variety of events. For $75,000 a couple can enjoy a wedding in a fabulous setting (this is only a base price; one wedding on-site last year cost $1 million).
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