Enjoy a fall foliage tour with Caravan Tours and visit many of the historic New England mansions.

The glamorous lives of the members of the 400 Club in Newport, Rhode Island, have certainly been long admired. In the early 1900’s, New England socialites built summer cottages and vacation homes along Rhode Island’s beautiful 400-mile coastline.

These are much more than ‘cottages’. They are now historic New England mansions that are still unrivalled even to this day. At the time, these New England mansions were social hubs for hosting and attending weekly parties.

Today, vacationers to Newport Rhode Island in New England, enjoy guided tours of these Gilded Age mansions and dream of what it would be like to live as one of America’s wealthiest families back in the day.

The Marble House “Vanderbilt Summer Cottage”

The Marble House has become one of the most famous historic New England mansions. Located in Newport Rhode Island, its notoriety may be due to its owners – William K. Vanderbilt and his wife Alva – and their role in Newport society.

The owners and their hired designer didn’t spare any expense when building the mansion; it cost approximately $11 million to build back in 1892 (which is the equivalent of $308 million in 2019)! The mansion was actually built as a 39th birthday present for Mrs. Alva Vanderbilt. As a leading hostess in Newport Society she dreamed that this historic New England mansion would be a “Temple to the Arts” in America.

The Vanderbilt’s summer cottage is named the Marble House because of its incorporation of marble into the design and structure. Nearly 7 million was spent on marble – over 500,000 cubic feet – that was used in fountains, statues and carved walls.

Many suggest that The Marble House and the Vanderbilt dynasty played a pivotal role of changing Newport’s quiet colony into a legendary resort filled with opulent, over-the-top stone palaces. Today, the cliffs on the property provide the same view of the Atlantic Ocean, while the Chinese Tea House on the property can be rented for private cocktail events.

The Breakers Mansion

The Breakers historic New England mansion is perhaps the most popular attraction in the entire state of Rhode Island, hosting nearly 300,000 visitors each year.

Preserved as a National Historic Landmark, the Breakers mansion was the summer home (or cottage) of Cornelius Vanderbilt.

Built in just 24 months (1893-1895), The Breakers was named for the ocean waves that continually crash or break on the cliffs below. At a cost of $7 million to build ($182 million today) this 13 acre estate withheld nothing – French and Italian Fashion, The Gold Room, a Great Hall with 45 foot high ceilings, and over 70 rooms in all.

Although The Breakers is now owned by the Preservation of Society of Newport County, Cornelius Vanderbilt’s great-grandchildren still occupy the third floor of the mansion during summer months.

The Elms Mansion

The Elms has been named the best historic New England mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, and was once owned by New England socialites other than the Vanderbilt family. Although it is not built on oceanfront property, the Elms Mansion still offers one of the best Newport mansion tours.

The Elms mansion was originally built by Edward Julius Berwind and his wife Sarah. This Newport mansion was modeled after the French Château d’Asnières and was completed in 1901. The Elms remained in the Berwind family for nearly 60 years.

The Elms mansion tour is a must if you spend more than a couple days in Newport, Rhode Island. Many Rhode Island tourists opt for the additional Rooftop/ Behind the Scenes Tour, which takes visitors to the servant’s quarters, kitchens, and through the underground tunnel system used to transport coal to the basement.

The Carriage House at the Elms, which is located just a short walk down the lawn, provides visitors with a light lunch during peak season.

Luckily, the Preservation Society of Newport County bought this historic New England mansion within weeks of it being scheduled to be demolished. In 1996, the Elms Mansion became a National Historic Landmark with its famous underground tunnel system and rooftop views of Newport Harbor.

Historic New England Mansions Part of Fall Foliage Tour

Caravan Tours has been offering fully escorted tours since 1952. Our all inclusive New England Fall Foliage Vacations include a tour of The Marble House and a drive through the 400 Club where The Breakers and The Elms are built.

Caravan New England Vacations offer plenty of things to see and do. Check out the reviews for Caravan New England tours.

Call Caravan Tours at 1-800-CARAVAN (227-2826) to check availability and reserve your vacation spot today!

Caravan Tours’ Rhode Island vacation lets you explore the smallest of the six New England states. Learn the historical and architectural significance and the Rhode Island mansions, which were homes to many historical figures.

Often referred to as “Little Rhody,” the State of Rhode Island is lined by over 400 miles of coastline, and is home to 20% of America’s registered historic landmarks, including The Breakers and The Elms along with 400 Club and St. Mary’s Church, all of which are located in the heart of Newport, Rhode Island.

Here are Caravan Tours’ Top 4 Newport Rhode Island vacation attractions that are included as part of Caravan’s all inclusive New England tour.

1. Newport RI – Sailing Capital of the World

Newport Rhode Island boasts that it’s easy to “fall” for its natural beauty. Located on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, this spectacular coastal town is highly hospitable. Some say it is the shining gem in New England’s coastal crown.

Newport Rhode Island is also famous for its Gilded Age mansions that once were home to prestigious families such as the Astors and Vanderbilts. Apart from the historical significance of these beautiful coastal mansions, Newport RI also showcases its many seafaring adventures such as sailing, yachting, and fishing. Tours of Coastal Forts, museums, and historic sites round off any Rhode Island vacation to the yachting capital of the world.

2. Vanderbilt Summer Cottage – The Marble House

William Vanderbilt’s summer cottage, known as The Marble House, is much more than a cottage. It is located in the heart of Newport and is one of three highly recommended mansions worth visiting on any Rhode Island vacation.

William Vanderbilt had William Morris Hunt design this mansion as a gift to his wife Alva, on her 39th birthday. Built to completion in 1892, this extravagant palace totalled about $11 million at the time and features more than 500,000 cubic feet of beautiful marble.

The Vanderbilt’s were very prominent citizens and consummate hosts during Newport’s Gilded Age, and held many parties at the Mansion. Unfortunately, the couple divorced just three short years after the construction of Marble House was completed. Only in 1920, after William’s death, did Alva reopen the Marble House.

Today the Preservation Society of Newport County opens the Marble House for daily tours of the mansion, including its Chinese Tea House and its immaculate grounds.

3. Newport’s 400 Club

Some of the cottages, as the Newport Rhode Island mansions were called, were eligible for entering the elite country club known as the “400 Club.” The requirements for joining the 400 Club included having $3 million in cash (equivalent to about $100 million today) and a ballroom that was big enough to host 400 people. The Breakers and The Elms are two other popular mansions worth visiting on your Rhode Island vacation. The Breakers and The Elms can be found while driving through the streets that were originally home to the Rhode Island’s elite 400 Club.

4. Newport’s St. Mary’s Church

This Roman Catholic parish is the oldest of its kind in Rhode Island, established in April 1828.

Father Robert Woodley, who was newly ordained at the time, was given the task of exploring the possibility of starting a church in Rhode Island. After investigating other possible sites, Woodley decided on Newport RI because of its enthusiastic residents.

St. Mary’s Church likely became most famous when John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier decided to be married in the building in 1953.

Today, Newport’s St. Mary’s Church is designated as a National Historic Shrine and many Rhode Island tourists admire its second period Gothic style, which is said to be one of the most beautiful structures in all of New England.

Rhode Island Attractions – Part of New England Fall Tours

Your Rhode Island vacation is included as part of Caravan Tours’ New England Vacation packages, which also include a tour of the Vanderbilt’s summer cottage, The Marble House, as well as a sightseeing tour through 400 Club and St. Mary’s Church in Newport.

Caravan Tours has specialized in fully escorted all inclusive tours since 1952. Read reviews for the New England Fall Colors Vacation Packages or call 1-800-CARAVAN (227-2826) to reserve your space today!