When I was invited to visit the largest and most extravagant mansion in Newport I was beyond thrilled! I’m a lover of all things vintage, historical and especially grandiose architecture that dates back to a forgotten era. I couldn’t wait to see The Breakers again since it’s been a few years since my last visit. But this time the visit would be just a little different from what you would normally see at the most epic of all summer cottages in Newport!The Preservation Society of Newport County introduces the new Beneath The Breakers Tour, offering guests a never-before-seen look into the working side of the Vanderbilt family’s summer home. It details what it took to bring a great house like The Breakers (1895) to life. Based on research by Preservation Society staff and period documents, including daily journals that were kept by The Breakers’ chief engineer Lawrence Bauerband, the tour shares with visitors how the house changed with the times as domestic technology evolved through the Gilded Age and into the 20th Century.Beneath The Breakers will take visitors through the following:
· The tour begins with an introduction and short video in the ‘Caretaker’s Cottage’ just inside the enormous and elaborate front gates of The Breakers.
· The tunnel takes the group into the basement of the mansion where visitors will get an up-close look at the cutting edge construction techniques and electrical and plumbing systems from more than a century ago!The new tour comes on the heels of a special milestone for The Preservation Society as it recently announced that the Newport Mansions gave more than one million tours in 2016, the first museum in New England outside of Boston to achieve that many admissions.
The unveiling of the tour follows an 18-month, $1.2 million project to preserve and restore the historic underground boiler room of The Breakers. It is located under the front lawn of the 19th century mansion as a fireproofing measure by Mr. Vanderbilt. The original skylights had been covered over and ground water was seeping through the roof and walls of the basketball court-sized underground chamber. The entire structure was excavated and waterproofed to prevent further deterioration and the skylights were uncovered.I had a great time visiting the underground tunnels created so very long ago. The history behind it, the purpose for its construction and the amazing turn of the century inventions can all be seen in one place. It is a tour I highly recommend and one you will learn from and definitely enjoy!
For the detailed schedule, visit www.NewportMansions.org. This is an underground experience in a historic structure and visitors will pass through some enclosed spaces. This tour is not handicapped accessible; comfortable, flat shoes are recommended.
Very special thanks to the Preservation Society of Newport for inviting me. As always, opinions & views are my own.