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The Mansion "Where American Society Began" in Newport, Rhode Island, offered at $14.9 million
Astors’ Beechwood Mansion to be presented by Lila Delman Real Estate, the Christie’s Great Estates exclusive affiliate in Rhode Island
A glorious testament to The Gilded Age, the Astors’ Beechwood Mansion is the former residence of Mr. and Mrs. William Backhouse Astor Jr. and one of the most prominent estates in American social history. Spectacularly situated on Newport’s fabled Bellevue Avenue, this magnificent 39-room Victorian residence overlooks Cliff Walk, a world famous 3.5-mile coastal pathway along the eastern shore of Rhode Island. Encompassing approximately 19,000 square feet, with 15 bedrooms, the estate features richly appointed formal rooms that still reverberate with the gaiety of brilliant society events from days gone by.
The story of this historic estate began in 1851, when architect Calvert Vaux—best known for the design of various structures in New York’s Central Park as the partner of Fredrick Law Olmstead—and landscape designer Andrew Jackson Downing collaborated to create the custom dwelling for New York dry goods merchant Daniel Parish. Designed in an Italianate style, the handsome white three-story structure with yellow trim exhibited the same elegance and grandeur then that it does today.
William Backhouse Astor Jr. purchased the mansion in 1881 as an anniversary gift for his wife, Caroline. Known as The Mrs. Astor, she was the creator of America’s first exclusive social register, “The 400,” and the mother of John Jacob Astor IV, the richest man to perish on the RMS Titanic. Shortly after the purchase of Beechwood, Mrs. Astor brought in architect Richard Morris Hunt to turn the mansion into a place worthy of America’s highest society. Hunt, who designed the Beaux Arts façade of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, created a stunningly gilded ballroom with mirrored walls, water-drop crystal chandeliers, 800 panes of glass, ornate brass sconces, bas-reliefs depicting Poseidon and Aphrodite, and French doors that open to expansive lawns and the shimmering sea beyond. Inspired by the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, this ballroom was the center of American Society for more than 25 years and played host to Mrs. Astor’s famous annual “Summer Ball.”
“One of the most socially significant properties in the United States, Beechwood was owned for more than 60 years by the Astor family, with Caroline Astor reigning as the undisputed ‘Queen of American Society’ at the turn of the 19th Century. The five-acre estate overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and is one of the most prominent properties in Newport,” says Melanie Delman, President of Lila Delman Real Estate. “The property presents an extraordinary opportunity, particularly for the clients of Christies’, in that the mansion’s architecture is a unique expression of period artistry and the property currently enjoys museum status and use.”
Beechwood has hosted numerous artistic luminaries, including Cole Porter, who is said to have written the song “Night and Day” while visiting there. It also made a Hollywood appearance in the movie “High Society,” starring Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and Bing Crosby. In recent years, the mansion has played host to private events attended by numerous international dignitaries, such as President George Bush, John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova, opera great Beverly Sills, and England’s Prince Andrew.
“The Astors’ Beechwood Mansion is a stunning example of the magnificence and grandeur of the bygone Gatsby era located in the heart of a modern cultural playground,”
Known for its many 1800s-era palatial mansions, Newport remains a popular New England summer resort, and is a 90-minute drive from downtown Boston.
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Christie’s Great Estates is the largest international network of real estate companies dedicated to the sale and marketing of luxury homes and a subsidiary of Christie’s, the world’s leading art business.