Built by William K. and Alva Vanderbilt, Marble House was one of the first extravagant mansions in Newport. Known to host elegant events, this mansion has seen its share of local history including a famous divorce and rallies for the Women’s Suffrage Movement.
Beginning in 1882, Marble House was built by Alva Smith and her husband, William K. Vanderbilt. It was officially completed 1892 for a total of $11 million ($332 million in 2021). Of the $11 million, $7 million was on marble alone.
Marble House was one of the first opulent mansions in Newport that sparked a frenzy to have the largest, most beautiful home on Bellevue during an era commonly referred to as “The Gilded Age”.
In 1895, William and Alva divorced, and she kept the home. A year later she married Oliver Belmont and moved into his mansion, Belcourt. When Oliver passed away in 1908 of appendicitis, Alva moved back to Marble House.
It was during her return to Marble House that Alva ordered the construction of the Chinese Tea House. She was also actively involved in the Women’s Suffrage Movement. Alva hosted several rallies for the suffrage movement in the home and the Tea House.
Marble House was sold in 1932, after Alva had moved to France near her daughter. The Prince family then purchased the home. They operated the mansion for over three decades. Most notably, they hosted the 1957 Tiffany Ball at Marble House that was hosted to benefit the Preservation Society of Newport County. In attendance were John F. and Jacqueline Kennedy, the Astors, the Vanderbilts and various other members of Newport high-society.
The mansion was donated in 1963 to the Preservation Society of Newport County. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Today, it is open for tours and events.
The HBO series The Gilded Age features several of the Newport mansions in its episodes. Marble House is one of the mansions that makes it debut. There are even limited available tours that will take visitors on a guided adventure through the house to explore places that were shown in the popular television series.
Marble House is located at 596 Bellevue Avenue in Newport, Rhode Island. It is a part of the Newport Mansions: Preservation Society of Newport County. Tickets can be purchased to tour just Marble House or multiple homes.
Please be advised that the mansions may close for movie/television filming or private events such as weddings. It is best to check the calendar before visiting.
The Chinese Tea House serves self-serve menu options such as sandwiches, salads, pastries and drinks from a local provider.
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