The Breakers is currently closed to the public.
Will open daily starting May 3.
Tours of The Breakers are self-guided audio tours using the FREE Newport Mansions app.
For the best tour experience DOWNLOAD the app before your visit. And bring your earbuds!
Guests without a smart device will be provided with a paper tour script.
The Breakers is the grandest of Newport's summer "cottages" and a symbol of the Vanderbilt family's social and financial preeminence in turn-of-the-century America.
Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877) established the family fortune in steamships and later in the New York Central Railroad, which was a pivotal development in the industrial growth of the nation during the late 19th century. The Commodore's grandson, Cornelius Vanderbilt II (1843-1899), became Chairman and President of the New York Central Railroad system in 1885, and purchased a wooden house called The Breakers in Newport during that same year.
In November 1892, that house was destroyed by fire, and the next year Vanderbilt commissioned architect Richard Morris Hunt to design a villa to replace it. Hunt directed an international team of craftsmen and artisans to create a 70-room Italian Renaissance- style palazzo inspired by the 16th-century palaces of Genoa and Turin. 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. Vanderbilt took several measure to reduce the danger of fire, including brick-and-steel construction and the placement of the boiler room beneath the lawn away from the house rather than directly under the building.
The Breakers was completed in 1895 and the Vanderbilt family first occupied it in the summer of that year.
The Vanderbilts had seven children. Their youngest daughter, Gladys, who married Count Laszlo Szechenyi of Hungary, inherited the house on her mother's death in 1934. An ardent supporter of The Preservation Society of Newport County, she opened The Breakers in 1948 to raise funds for the Society. In 1972, the Preservation Society purchased the house from her heirs. Today, the house is designated a National Historic Landmark.
Please note: The Breakers, Marble House, The Elms and Rosecliff are partially wheelchair accessible. For detailed information about access for visitors with special needs, please call (401) 847-1000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check the operating schedule.
The Breakers Stable & Carriage House
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 house in the center.
The stable functioned as follows. There were two ways carriages were requested: Mrs. Vanderbilt sent a daybook down every morning at 8 a.m. with a list of the carriages that would be used that day, and people in the house could call down their requests on the telephone. When a carriage was requested, the horses were brought out, hitched, and left the building from the north door. All of the returning carriages entered through the south door. The carriages were unhitched, washed off and wheeled into the carriage house. The horses were taken to the back, unharnessed and washed down in two rooms with cement floors. The harness was cleaned and placed in the tack room. The horses went to the stable, which consists of 26 tie stalls and two box stalls.
The carriage house and stable were run by the head coachman. There were 12 grooms and stable boys working under his supervision, and they lived directly overhead on the north side. There was a large hayloft and grain room over the stable itself and the head coachman had a five-room apartment. To the rear, on the south side, there was a large kitchen, dining room and living room for the grooms and stable boys. Unfortunately, the second floor was destroyed by fire in 1970.
Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, who was a leader in the sport of coaching, had Brewster Company of New York, the finest of the coach companies, build him the Venture. He took it to England every year and rode it frequently between Brighton and London. The Venture is among the coaches now on display in the carriage room.
Also on display in the Stable is an exhibit on the New York Central Railroad.
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. The first phase was completed in August 2019.
By the end of summer 2021, the Serpentine Path will be complete and the focus will shift to areas around the villa and 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.