Friday, July 20, 2012

A French Chateau on the New England Coast

Wrapping up my series on Newport's Gilded Age architecture, I'll finish with my favorite, The Elms. Designed by Horace Trumbauer, another prominent late-19th century architect, The Elms was modeled after the mid-18th century French Chateau d'Asnieres outside of Paris.

Built for coal baron Edward Julius Berwind, the building was completed in 1901 and replaced an earlier house on the property that was considerably more modest.

Mr. Berwind was interested in modern technology, and The Elms was one of the first homes in America to be wired for electricity with no form of backup system. It was a very sophisticated house for the time.

What makes it stand out among the rest is the André Le Nôtre inspired garden. The Elms is unique among Newport's historic houses in that the landscaping is as grand as the house. Trumbauer worked closely with Charles Miller and Ernest Bowditch who created the gardens.

From the back of the house a series of terraces leads to a large expanse of lawn dotted with a variety of Newport's famous beech and elm trees.

Below another terrace at the far end of the lawn are two pavilions overlooking a formal sunken garden.

Like all the great houses of the era, the property included a stables and carriage house. Those at The Elms are particularly beautiful and in the same style as the house whereas at other properties the stables might be more simply constructed.

For a photographic overview of some of Trumbauer's other work pick up a copy of American Splendor: the Residential Architecture of Horace Trumbauer.

For information about other historic houses in Newport visit The Preservation Society of Newport County.


  1. Hey Phyllis - More gorgeous photos! The garden ornaments, urns, and statuary are incredible. I love that treillage....beautiful backdrop. And the pavilions anchoring the sunken garden are so stately. Thanks for the 3 part series on Newport. I've enjoyed it very much :-)

  2. Another wow! I would love to know how long it took to build this estate....Love the classic gardens, simply beautiful. Thanks for the tour, great pics!!! B

  3. Beautiful mansion and really beautiful photos!

  4. oh my, this is stunning and so authentic. i love that the statues framing the entrance are stone with a cherub on their back in copper (?), a perfect segue with the roof.
    i have been out of town, going back to see the other posts in this series, thank you phyllis!

  5. How beautiful! The mind boggles at how much work must go into maintaining all those hedges and topiaries! x Sharon

  6. Once again - another spectacular post!! It's hard for me to wrap my my around the fact these homes are in America! The structures/timeless gardens... sigh... wonderful post my dear!


  7. I love love all of the amazing architecture, what a gift to be able to create like that!

  8. Hi Phyllis, thank you for this incredible tour!! Your photos are beautiful and I love learning the history. Stunning! Adding it to my hope to visit list. Have a lovely week!

    1. Hi Robin, so glad you enjoyed the series and thanks for your nice comments! Have a great week, Phyllis

  9. Phyllis, you truly do have such gorgeous posts! I really wish I could start reading all of my favorite blogs first thing in the morning! By the time I finally get to sit down I'm always about to collapse! I've decided that once I get sweet Miller moved to Auburn this fall I'm turning over a new leaf! I'm missing out on being able to truly study all of the beauty that you post! I can't even take this all in! It's truly incredible and i certainly appreciate the time it takes you to share all of this with us!

  10. Wonderful and amazing places


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