In October of 1995 my daughter Deb and I went to MV and Newport, Rhode Island for an autumn get-away.
Part 1 – Martha’s Vineyard
We were supposed to leave NJ on Saturday. Due to the forecast of heavy rain my husband suggested she and I leave Friday after Deb got home from work and stay over night in Mystic, Ct. Deb got off from work early and we left around 3pm. Things were going smoothly for oh, at least an hour and then 7 or so miles before the dreaded Tappan Zee Bridge things came to a dead stop. We decided to get off at the next exit and wend our way through the smaller back highways and eventually rejoin good old route I-95. Sounded like a good plan. Actually a lot of motorists thought so too and before we knew it we were stuck in a worse traffic jam. And…. that rain that we were trying to avoid…well, it came early and it was heavy and oh, it was also getting dark ! Nine hours later at 11:30pm we arrived in Mystic, Ct… a drive that should have only taken 3 or 4 hours at the most. And so our adventure had begun.
The next morning we arrived in Woods Hole and got an earlier ferry to Martha’s Vineyard… we like when that happens.
We checked into our inn and spent the day walking and relaxing. After supper it began pouring, I half kiddingly said we should take a walk in the rain and before I knew it that’s what we were doing. I never like walking in the rain, especially in the dark, but for some reason it just seemed the right thing to be doing.
The following day after breakfast we rented bikes.
Mind you it had been years since I’d been on a bike and I’d never used hand brakes… but how hard could they be !! Off we trotted to the bike shop by the harbor in Edgartown. After a few instructions … most of which I’d missed we got on our bikes and headed out of the shop. Somehow I wound up not on the road but heading for a hedge of flowers and before I knew it had made contact with them… it was all in slow motion so it seemed like an eternity until I hit the ground. I laughed and so did the rental guy, my daughter though after showing concern for my well being was convinced I’d want to turn in the bikes and forget about our ride. But no, I was determined to carry on after we’d gone back to the inn however so I could bandage my cuts and bruises. So back on the bike I got and we headed to the inn just a block or so away. I was doing pretty well until I turned into their driveway and sort of, well, bumped into one of the cars in their lot. Finally got myself put together and once again started off on our bikes… my daughter still wasn’t convinced we’d make it out of Edgartown. You’ll be happy to know that I was finally getting the hang of the hand brakes even though I automatically was using my feet too… sometimes dragging them on the ground as a back up maneuver.
The road between Edgartown and Oak Bluffs is 6 miles of scenic beauty… for most of the ride the ocean is on one side and Sengekontacket Pond is on the other… it’s one of the prettiest bike paths (or roads) on MV. We stopped several times to take pictures and for me to catch my breath. At one point the bike path changes from one side of the road to the other… there are big signs telling you about this… I missed them. When I saw my daughter move across the road I figured I should follow suit… as I have a problem turning my neck I didn’t see the truck that was coming down the road. I made it to the other side still not aware how close the truck had come… I do however remember the scared and horrified look on my daughter’s face. She claims to this day that I gave her several grey hairs… I say, turn about is fair play.
It was a fun day… the company, the weather, the experience of hand brakes… I’m glad we did it ……. once.
The following day was spent driving around the Vineyard. Not too much walking was done due to the sore leg muscles one of us had… not mentioning names but I’m sure after reading about our bike trip that you can guess who it was ! Tuesday was also the most normal of our four day get away… a ploy perhaps to coax us into a false sense of security! That remained to be seen!
Part 2 – Newport, Rhode Island
Our plan called for us to stay overnight in Newport, RI… a place Deb had never been to and I raved about.
I had made reservations at a bed & breakfast, which is NOT pictured here. We figured we’d check in and then go have lunch by the harbor. The best laid plans often go astray as we were finding out… this part of our trip was no different.
We pulled into the circular driveway of what once had been a gorgeous mansion. Once. The first thing we noticed was the roof being torn off and being tossed onto the driveway. OK, a little renovation is a good thing. There were no other cars in the driveway (an omen perhaps). The spider webs by the front door, not such a good thing, even if Halloween was only days away. The door was locked so we rang the bell. Lurch opened it. All right, it wasn’t Lurch, but this man was big and wore an eye patch and had a low gravely, grumbly voice. Maybe there wasn’t an eye patch but there should have been.
We walked into what at one time had years ago must have been a beautiful mansion but was now drab, threadbare, and frankly creepy. The circular staircase was beautiful wood covered by the most horrible ugly green carpeting imagineable. We signed in and were lead us upstairs to our room (cue ominous music). Walked in… it was large, queen size bed, a cot, bare floors, nothing matched, high drafty ceilings with no lights, everything was worn out looking. I didn’t want to put my suitcase down. Deb looked at me and I at her mumbling things like “I don’t know” “I don’t like it here” “this is spooky”. She asked if I wanted to go home? We made a beeline down the stairs, mumbled a few words to the owner, flung open the seemingly stuck front doors, threw our luggage in the car and high tailed it out of there. Another slightly askew incident in our adventure.
We did however have one of the best lunches ever. We drove to the harbor and ate outside at the Mooring. The whole time we were eating we were laughing and talking about the weird bed and breakfast and the strange owners. At one point our waitress came over to ask the usual “how is everything” question and before I knew it I was telling her about our … um, episode at the b&b. She told us she’d heard some stories about the place that were on the weird side. We agreed we’d definitely made the right decision in leaving.
We left Newport with 3 minutes to spare on the parking meter and headed home to NJ. Since we were coming home a day early it was only fair to give my husband a heads up. We called him from a rest stop, no answer so we left a message on the machine to alert him to our earlier arrival. We called once more to update him and drove happily along. Meanwhile, at home he hadn’t bothered to listen to the messages and was completely surprised when we arrived a day early.
Thus ended a slightly off kilter, lovely and very memorable trip 🙂
Believe it or not, no more mansions 🙂 just a little of this and a little of that.
The International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Sunset at Breton Point
And this and that…
This concludes my posts about the trip to Newport, RI … I think 🙂
(photographs by my daughter Deb and myself)
Kingscote, our final mansion.
George Noble Jones, a southern plantation owner constructed this Gothic Revival style summer cottage in 1839 along a farm path known as Bellevue Avenue. Designed by Richard Upjohn, the house is an early example of the picturesque Gothic Revival style, with its irregular and busy roofline. Kingscote was one of the first summer “cottages” constructed in Newport. It was owned by the King family from 1863 until 1972, when it was given to the Preservation Society of Newport County.
According to the Preservation Society of Newport County: Today, Kingscote is a rare example of a Gothic Revival house and landscape setting preserved intact with original family collections.
Hope you’ve enjoyed our mansion tours, we had a lot of fun.
(photographs by my daughter Deb and myself)
The Breakers – if you only have time to see one mansion/summer cottage, this the THE one to visit.
From wikipedia: ” The Breakers is a Vanderbilt mansion located on Ochre Point Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island. The Breakers was built as the Newport summer home of Cornelius Vanderbilt II. The Breakers is the architectural and social archetype of the ‘Gilded Age’ a period when members of the Vanderbilt family were among the major industrialists of America. Vanderbilt was the President and Chairman of the New York Central Railroad, and was the grandson of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt. The Commodore made the family fortune in the steamship and railroad industries.In 1895, the year of its completion, The Breakers was the largest, most opulent house in the Newport area.”
CLICK HERE to read more….
This was the original Breakers which was destroyed by fire in 1892. A modest summer cottage…
Vanderbilt commissioned famed architect Richard Morris Hunt to rebuild it and insisted that the building be made as fireproof as possible and as such, the structure of the building used steel trusses and no wooden parts.
And this is the Breakers in 1895… somewhat different from the original, wouldn’t you say.
Great hall …
Around the ‘cottage’… 2 sitting rooms – music room – library – bathroom – dining room.
In the library the fireplace, taken from a 16th-century French chateau bears the inscription “I laugh at great wealth, and never miss it; nothing but wisdom matters in the end.”
Back of grand staircase – ceiling – gilded door – portrait – platinum wall paper – chandelier.
‘The kitchen, unlike others in the time period, was situated on the first floor away from the main house to prevent the possibility of fires and cooking smells reaching the main parts of the house.’ You can understand why after the original Breakers burned down that they’d want the kitchen further away. This kitchen is gorgeous, it could even tempt me to whip up a cake or something. Maybe.
The grounds … you never know what you might see out there 🙂
The Breakers is amazing… not just in its beauty and opulence but in the thought and foresight that went into building it.
Just a few more pictures, really, just a few 🙂
If you haven’t been to the Breakers I hope you get to go. In the mean time CLICK HERE for the Breakers and HERE to find out more about Cornelius Vanderbilt II.
Coming next … what mansion came within weeks of being torn down !!
(photographs by my daughter Deb and myself)
As you may have guessed from the clues in the previous post ‘April Road Trip’.. our trip was to Newport, Rhode Island to visit the mansions of the Gilded Age. And gilded they were.
Mansion #1- Marble House.
According to Wikipedia : “The mansion was built as a summer “cottage” retreat between 1888 and 1892 for Alva and William Kissam Vanderbilt. It was a social landmark that helped spark the transformation of Newport from a relatively relaxed summer colony of wooden houses to the now legendary resort of opulent stone palaces. The fifty-room mansion required a staff of 36 servants, including butlers, maids, coachmen, and footmen. The mansion cost $11 million ($260,000,000 in 2009 dollars) of which $7 million was spent on 500,000 cubic feet (14,000 m³) of marble.”
The tours are audio guided which lets you progress at your own speed… also now photos are allowed with smart phones. You can use SLR’s without flash with written permission when you get there. I used my SLR digital camera as well as my smart phone. Let’s step inside now and begin the tour of Marble House…
Foyer and staircase….
Around the house..
Alva was big in the Women’s Suffrage movement, you can find this ‘Votes for Women’ china in the gift shop.
One cannot leave Marble House without walking around the grounds and visiting the Chinese Tea House on the back lawn.
This is only a sampling of the many pictures we took. This house, escuse me ‘summer cottage’ is incredibly beautiful and interesting. To read more about it and the original owners, William Kissam Vanderbilt and his eclectic and interesting wife Alva… CLICK HERE and CLICK HERE
Coming next… the ultimate ‘summer cottage’. Can you guess which it is ?
(photographs by my daughter Deb and myself)
I’m taking a girl trip later this month to New England with my daughter Deb and our friend Dawn and there will be a post or so about it… but in the meantime I want to re-post part of a trip Deb and I made 20 years ago to Newport, Rhode Island.
We had spent the earlier part of the week on Martha’s Vineyard but that’s a re-post for a later date. We left the Vineyard and headed for an over night stay in Newport, Rhode Island, a place Deb had never been to and I raved about.
I had made reservations at a bed & breakfast, which is NOT pictured here… this is the beautiful Rosecliff mansion.
We figured we’d check in and then go have lunch by the harbor. The best laid plans often go astray as we were finding out
We pulled into the circular driveway of what once had been a gorgeous mansion. The operative word here is… once. The first thing we noticed was the roof being torn off and being tossed onto the driveway. OK, a little renovation is a good thing.
There were no other cars in the driveway (an omen perhaps).
There were spider webs by the front door, not such a good thing, even if Halloween was only days away.
The door was bolted so we rang the bell.
Lurch opened it. All right, it wasn’t Lurch, but this man was big and wore an eye patch and had a low gravely, grumbly voice. OK, maybe there wasn’t an eye patch but there should have been.
We entered with trepidation what at one time years ago had been a beautiful mansion but was now drab, threadbare, and frankly creepy. The beautifully carved wood circular staircase was covered by the most horrible ugly green carpeting imaginable. We signed in and were lead upstairs to our room (cue ominous music). I think on the way up we were
warned told not to ever venture into the east wing ! Or maybe that was from ‘Beauty and the Beast’… at any rate I remember hearing some words of caution, or welcome, or whatever.
Walked into the room… it was large, there was a queen size bed, also a cot, the floors were bare, nothing matched, everything was worn out looking, it was dusty and unwelcoming, there was also the constant banging on the roof, or was it coming from the closet !
I didn’t want to put my suitcase down, I paced nervously around clutching my bags. Deb looked at me and I at her mumbling things like “I don’t know about this” “I don’t like it here” “this is spooky”. She asked if I wanted to go home? I nodded.
We made a beeline down the stairs, mumbled a few words to the owner, flung open the seemingly stuck front doors, threw our luggage in the car and high tailed it out of there.
We did however have one of the best lunches ever. We drove to the harbor and ate outside at the Mooring. The whole time we were eating we were laughing and talking about the weird B&B and the seemingly spooky owners. Our waitress came over to ask the usual “how is everything” question and before I knew it I was telling her about our … um, episode at the B&B. She told us she’d heard some weird stories about the place. We agreed we’d definitely made the right decision in leaving.
We left Newport with 3 minutes to spare on the parking meter and headed home to NJ. This trip was one for the books.
Wonder what our upcoming girl trip will bring in the way of adventure.. perhaps a visit to the past !!!