The mansions of Newport are truly astounding, and something everyone should see on a visit to New England. The Marble House is one of the most impressive architectural designs of the Gilded Age, and a full-on display of the socioeconomic status of the Vanderbilt family. It signified not just the turning point from wooden to stone houses, but the gap between the ultra-wealthy and everyone else in the country. Join us as we tour the Marble House mansion, and show you why it’s one of the best things to do in Newport Rhode Island!
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Marble House Newport Rhode Island Info
Location: 596 Bellevue Ave, Newport, RI, 02840
Hours: 10am-5pm Everyday
Cost: Adults $18 – Youth (Age 6-17) $8
Time Needed: 1 Hour
Tour Tip: Download the Newport Mansions App and bring headphones to follow the self-guided audio tour.
Vanderbilt Family Marble House
Before you tour the Marble House in Rhode Island you’ll need to know a little bit of history on the incredible Vanderbilt family. William and Alva Vanderbilt built Marble House in 1892. If you didn’t know already, William was the grandson of railroad and steamship magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt!
William gave his wife Marble House as her 39th birthday gift. Can you believe they only spent 6 weeks out of the year at this epic mansion?
The Vanderbilt’s were one of the wealthiest families in the world, and they put that on full display with the design of the Marble House. Soon after, William’s older brother (Cornelius II) would build the famous Breakers mansion just down the road.
The Vanderbilt’s impact on American society was immense and went far beyond the family business. Today it’s still seen in their philanthropy work, countless contributions to the art scene, New York City, and at Vanderbilt University.
History of the Marble House
The Marble House mansion has an amazing history that represents the Newport architecture movement as a whole. Simply put, wealthy families needed a place to vacation on the east coast! The seaside town of Newport became a place to see and be seen for the ultra-rich socialites from New York City. This transition from the old wooden houses to new stone mega-mansions was quite the spectacle.
500,000 cubic feet of marble was used to complete the 50 room house. Marble House cost 11 million dollars to build at the time.
The front resembles the White House capital building, while the inside is a mix of Gothic and French-style architecture. The Grand Trianon at the Palace of Versailles served as architect Richard Morris Hunt’s inspiration.
The Preservation Society of Newport County acquired the house in 1963, and in 2006 it was declared a National Historic Landmark. The Preservation Society of Newport County preserves and maintains these historic houses and properties and operates them for tours. For more information please visit www.newportmansions.org.
Marble House Mansion Tour
No detail was left out in the creation of this epic summer property. At times it feels like you’re walking through a museum rather than someone’s former home.
Fortunately, you’ll get to see most of this legendary house on your Marble House mansion tour! We recommend showing up early to be the first through the doors, as this is one of the most popular attractions in Newport.
You’ll start on the bottom floor and work your way up through the bedrooms, before ending downstairs in the kitchen. From there, head outside and take in the massive backyard with stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. There’s something you might not expect in the backyard as well which we’ll get into later!
→ You can also tour The Breakers Mansion nearby which is considered the most famous house in Newport.
Our Favorite Rooms in Marble House
Dining Room: The dining room played host to many lavish Vanderbilt lunches. The gold-covered chairs will be the first thing that catches your eye upon entering. The rose marble was imported all the way from Algeria.
Marble Hallway: Italian marble surrounds you as you walk through this epic hallway. Back when the Vanderbilt’s lived here, the French doors would be open to catch the cool sea breeze on a hot summer day in Newport.
Gothic Room: The distinct feature of this room is the beautiful stained glassed windows. However, the gothic room also features the most famous art of the Marble House with a collection from Emile Gavet.
Grand Salon: What says Gilded Age like a room covered completely in 22 karat gold? The Grand Salon was a room for music, balls, and entertaining guests.
Alva’s Bedroom: Proceeding onto the 2nd floor, you’ll find William and Alva’s separate bedrooms along with their son’s bedroom. Alva’s room was created in the Louis XIV style and there is a magnificent painting of the goddess Athena on the ceiling.
Kitchen: The kitchen is the last place you’ll visit inside the Marble House mansion. At times they even prepared food for hundreds of people! They even employed Chef Rameau, an esteemed French Chef to handle the cooking.
Chinese Tea House
There’s one last place we can’t leave off the Marble House Mansion tour. We really weren’t expecting to see a Chinese Tea House on our walk through the backyard! Alva really stepped up as a leading woman of Newport society after her divorce from William.
Upon the death of her 2nd husband she commissioned a team to travel to China, and study ancient architecture. They then came back and built this unique temple-like structure in 1908. Alva would go onto be an influential member of the women’s rights movement, and host her meetings at the Chinese Tea House.
Have any questions on our Marble House Mansion Tour? How about some of your favorite rooms inside the Marble House in Rhode Island? Let us know in the comments below!
Brigitte & Jake
Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar!
Where To Stay In Newport Rhode Island
Ultra Luxury – The Vanderbilt, Auberge Resorts Collection – This former Vanderbilt mansion has been restored into one of the most exclusive hotels in Newport! Enjoy the rooftop bar for drinks in the summer while being just steps from the waterfront.
Fun Vacation – Attwater Hotel – Beautiful boutique hotel close to all the great attractions of Newport. Bed and breakfast feel, with a unique touch of class and stylish decor.
Bed & Breakfast – Bellevue House – Opening in 1828, Bellevue is known as the first and oldest hotel in Newport. Comfy accommodations and convenient location to the center of town.
For more places to stay in Newport RI you can explore the latest prices here!
USA Travel Planning
Rental Car: We use Discover Cars when traveling. Consider renting a car in one city and dropping it off in another for an epic road trip!
Tours: Check out Get Your Guide for hundreds of activities around the country. Book a tour of Fenway Park in Boston, skip the line at the Empire State Building in NYC, or go on a Sea Cave Kayak Tour in La Jolla California!
Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without being covered! We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years and they are there when we need them.