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The Elms - Newport

Day 6 - Part 1 - Wednesday - September 14

EC/NE Camping Adventure 2022

Mansion hopping day! We are always amazed by the lavish and ornate Newport Mansions. We have visited twice before, but still couldn’t pass up a chance to admire them again.

Our first of three mansions we visited this day was The Elms.

The Elms was constructed from 1899 to 1901, for coal baron Edward Berwin and his wife Sarah. It cost approximately 1.5 million dollars to build (that is equivalent to just over $50 million in today’s dollars). The Elms features French architectural design, recreating the romantic atmosphere of an 18th century French chateau.

The Berwind family began spending summers in Newport in the 1890s. By 1898, it was clear that their original property (a small traditional beach cottage) was too small for the grand parties the Berwinds were having, and so they had the place torn down. Berwind hired Horace Trumbauer to build a much larger house, better fitting his status. Like many of the grandest summer residents of Newport, Edward Berwind was "new money" (his parents were middle-class German immigrants); by 1900 his friends included Theodore Roosevelt and Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany as well as many high-ranking government leaders from Europe and America. At this time Berwind was hailed as "one of the 58 men who rule America", making him one of Newport's most important summer residents.

Berwind was interested in technology, and The Elms was one of the first houses in America to be wired for electricity with no form of backup system. The house also included one of the first electrical ice makers. It was one of the most sophisticated houses of the time.[6] When The Elms opened in 1901 the Berwinds held a huge party.

During the next 20 years, Berwind's wife, Sarah, would spend the summers there, the season being from the 4th of July to the end of August; Berwind would come out only on weekends, for his coal-mining interests kept him in New York during the week. Did you catch that?? They lived in this lavish home for only about two months out of the year. TWO MONTHS. 😳 I think that is what fascinates me most about these mansions, they were just summer homes for these mega-rich families that were built to basically impress and outdo their neighbors.

Next up? Marble House - summer home of W.K. & Alva Vanderbilt.


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