The Breakers OPEN DAILY
Monday-Wednesday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Thursday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., through December 23
OPEN DAILY, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. from December 26-January 1, 2023
House and grounds close one hour after last tour admission
The Breakers is the grandest of Newport's summer "cottages" and a symbol of the Vanderbilt family's social and financial pre-eminence in the Gilded Age.
Built by Cornelius Vanderbilt II, one of the richest men in America, The Breakers was everything a millionaire of the Gilded Age could want in a summer getaway. A classic Italian palazzo design, the finest American and European craftsmanship, views of the sea, and modern technology combined to make the ideal setting for luxurious living and entertaining.
The Breakers was built from 1893-1895 to replace a smaller, wooden house that had been destroyed by fire. To reduce the risk of another fire, Vanderbilt and his wife, Alice, commissioned architect Richard Morris Hunt, a leading architect of the Gilded Age, to design the new structure of steel, brick and limestone; utilities such as the boilers were placed underground and away from the house.
In keeping with the Italian Renaissance style, classical Roman influences are seen in the exterior columns and arches. The breathtaking central Great Hall, with its 50-foot-high ceiling, was inspired by the open-air courtyards of Italy but exudes the grandeur of the Gilded Age. The exquisite tile mosaics in the Billiard Room and double loggia were hand-set by European artisans. The Music Room was constructed by Allard & Sons in France then disassembled and shipped to the United States for reassembly inside the house. The Breakers décor includes the finest materials in the world, including Baccarat crystal for the chandeliers in the Dining Room and platinum leaf in the Morning Room.
Allard and Sons of Paris assisted Hunt with furnishings and fixtures, Austro-American sculptor Karl Bitter designed relief sculpture, and Boston architect Ogden Codman decorated the family quarters. The mansion covers nearly an acre of the 13-acre property and has 70 rooms including 48 bedrooms for family and staff. There are 27 fireplaces. It was equipped with electricity – still a novelty in houses during the Gilded Age – as well as gas for lighting.
In 1948, Countess Széchenyi, a daughter of Cornelius and Alice Vanderbilt to whom ownership of The Breakers had passed, allowed the fledgling Preservation Society of Newport County to begin offering tours of the first floor to the public. In return, the Preservation Society agreed to pay $1 per year and cover operating expenses and maintenance. In 1972, the Preservation Society purchased the house and property from her heirs. The Breakers was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1994.
The Breakers has entertained presidents, royalty and guests from across the world for more than 125 years and today is visited by hundreds of thousands of people each year. It is the flagship of the Newport Mansions and a world-famous iconic image of the City-by-the-Sea.
For detailed information about access for visitors with special needs, please call (401) 847-1000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Self-serve food and drinks are available in the Garden Café inside The Breakers Welcome Center. Click here to view dining options.
- Free parking
- The Breakers is partially accessible with elevator in service.
Trip Advisor Traveler Reviews:
"An incredible look into the Gilded Age."
"The Breakers is another great mansion to visit in Newport. The views of the water are amazing. Plan on spending two hours at this great mansion!"
"This is the most spectacular of the Newport mansions. Absolutely incredible. Great audio tour, helpful employees, beautifully maintained. The details are fascinating! Like the other mansions, the tour experience is very organized and the gift store is fantastic."
"The Breakers is a magnificent and amazing mansion."
The Vanderbilt Family
Mr. & Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt II
Cornelius "Commodore" Vanderbilt II (1843-1899) was Chairman and President of the New York Central Railroad system and an heir to the fortune founded by his grandfather and namesake. He met his future wife, Alice Claypoole Gwynne, while both were teaching Sunday school at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in New York City. Mr. Vanderbilt was known for his strong work ethic and his philanthropy. His younger brother, William Kissam Vanderbilt, resided at Marble House.
Alice Claypoole Vanderbilt (1845-1934) was born and raised in Cincinnati but descended from an old Rhode Island family, with Roger Williams among her ancestors. As the wife of Cornelius, the eldest Vanderbilt of his generation, she was the family matriarch for more than 60 years. Cornelius and Alice were married in 1867. They had seven children.
• Alice Gwynne Vanderbilt (1869–1874) died of an illness at the age of 5. A portrait of her hangs above the bed in Mrs. Vanderbilt’s bedroom in The Breakers.
• William Henry Vanderbilt II (1870–1892), named after Cornelius’ father, died of typhoid fever while attending Yale University.
• Cornelius "Neily" Vanderbilt III (1873–1942) He served in the National Guard for 33 years, became a brigadier general during World War I and received the Army Distinguished Service Medal.
• Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (1875–1942) was a noted sculptor with several public monuments and memorials to her credit. During World War I, she established a hospital in France for wounded soldiers. In 1930, she founded the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.
• Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt (1877–1915) became head of the family He was involved in the family railroad business and built the luxurious Vanderbilt Hotel in New York City. Alfred died in the 1915 sinking of the ocean liner RMS Lusitania by a German submarine.
• Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt (1880–1925) was an enthusiast for fine horses. Through his second marriage, to Gloria Mercedes Morgan, he was the father of fashion designer Gloria Vanderbilt and grandfather of CNN journalist Anderson Cooper.
• Gladys Moore Vanderbilt (Countess Széchenyi) (1886–1965) married Count László Széchenyi of Hungary. She inherited The Breakers after her mother’s death in 1934, and allowed the Preservation Society of Newport County to begin giving public tours of the first floor in 1948.
The Breakers Landscape Revival Project
The 13-acre grounds of The Breakers historically included an important landscape designed by Ernest W. Bowditch, a key figure in the 19th-century evolution of landscape architecture.
By the late 20th century, it was in need of a revival.
In December 2018, the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission approved The Breakers Landscape Master Plan, as designed by Reed Hilderbrand landscape architects of Cambridge, Mass.
The plan was the result of years of research by Reed Hilderbrand and Robinson & Associates of Washington, D.C.
A thoughtful rehabilitation of the estate’s landscape broke ground in Spring 2019, focused on reviving the landscape along the length of the Serpentine Path that rings the property.
In June 2021, the Serpentine Path was completed, creating a 1,500-foot-long path around the property from the Shepard Avenue gate on the north side to the Cliff Walk in the southeast corner.
Future phases will shift to areas around the terrace and the Children’s Cottage.
In all, the project is expected to take about five years and an investment of several million dollars.
This ongoing project is funded by generous donors whose gifts are dedicated exclusively to this multiyear effort.
The Breakers Stable & Carriage House
The Breakers Stable & Carriage House is currently closed.
The Breakers Stable & Carriage House is located approximately a half-mile west of the house, on Coggeshall Avenue. Completed in 1895, it is 100 feet deep and 150 feet wide, U-shaped with a carriage area in the center. The stable consists of 26 tie stalls and two box stalls.
The carriage house and stable were run by the head coachman. Twelve grooms and stable boys worked under his supervision. They all lived on the second floor and shared a large kitchen, dining room and living room; the head coachman had a five-room apartment. There was a large hayloft and grain room over the stable itself. The second floor was destroyed by fire in 1970 and was not rebuilt.
Today the Carriage House displays several antique and historic road coaches, including the Venture, custom-built for Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt by Brewster Company of New York. Alfred Vanderbilt was a leader in the sport of coaching, and every year he brought the Venture, his coachman, grooms, stable boys and 12 teams of horses to England for long drives through the countryside.
In keeping with this great tradition, The Preservation Society hosts A Weekend of Coaching every three years. Authentic 19th-century coaches drawn by matched and highly trained teams of horses visit Newport and travel along Bellevue Avenue and other roads. The event includes an exhibition of coaching on the grounds of The Elms and a dinner dance at The Breakers. The 2022 Weekend of Coaching will be held August 19-21.
Also on display in the stable is an exhibit on the New York Central Railroad, the centerpiece of the Vanderbilt fortune.
Fans of HBO’s The Gilded Age will love this guided tour of Newport Mansions’ locations where the show was filmed.
The Gilded Age comes alive with engaging audio tours of life in The Breakers.
Immerse yourself in this social
and architectural landmark.
Hear the fascinating stories of people who lived and worked in this
Tours are self-guided using our free audio tour app.
Save time and download the Newport Mansions app on your smart device prior to your Newport Mansions visit!
And bring your earbuds!
- At The Breakers and Marble House, we offer both a regular audio tour and a CHILDREN'S audio tour that can be downloaded onto your smart device.
Go to your app store, and search for "Newport Mansions" identified with the green pineapple icon.
Download the app and tour of your choice before you arrive.
The Breakers Family Tour
Challenge Your Children To Discover The Secrets Of The Breakers
The Breakers Family Tour allows parents and children to explore the historic Vanderbilt summer "cottage", imagining themselves personally witnessing the history made in this great Gilded Age chateau.
You hear from family members and staff, as well as fanciful creatures like the friendly dolphin hiding under the grand staircase and the dragons in the Dining Room. Experience a summer day in the life of one of the Vanderbilt children, learn about the masters of the kitchen - Monsieur Le Chef and his colleague, The Butler.
The Breakers Family Tour included with regular admission. Suggested for ages 4-13. Available in English only.
Direct link for full screen view of The Breakers virtual tour.