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Tours, Groups, Exclusive Experiences
Explore our various tour types to find what’s best for you and your group.
History of Newport and the Mansions
Founded in 1639, Newport was an important port city, a center of the slave trade, a fashionable resort and the summer home of the Gilded Age rich.
What was the Gilded Age?
The Gilded Age was a period of unprecedented change in America. Fortunes were spent on luxuries such as the lavish "summer cottages" of Newport.
Deep Dive into the Show
Learn about the people, places and events depicted in Julian Fellowes' popular historical drama series.
Current members can see a full list of benefits and any information regarding Members Events.
Become a Member
We invite you to become a member of the Preservation Society today. In addition to joining an active community of preservation supporters and advocates, members are offered unlimited access to all open houses.
Our mission is to protect, preserve, and present the best of Newport County's architectural heritage. Learn more about us and our work.
Wind Farm Federal Appeal: FAQs
The Preservation Society of Newport County is appealing federal agency approval of two massive wind farms off the Rhode Island coast.
Personal Photography on the Grounds
Rent our museums for commercial photography & videography, TV production, and wedding photography.
Commercial Filming or Photography
Museum Rentals & Weddings
Host your wedding, rehearsal dinner, corporate event, or other celebration at our historic museums.
Founded in 1639, Newport was one of the most important port cities in the North American British Colonies during the 18th century, with commerce that included the importation and sale of enslaved persons as well as manufactures such as whale-oil candles, rum and fine furniture. The city’s fortunes declined with the Revolutionary War and its aftermath, but by the early-mid 1800s it was becoming a fashionable summer resort favored for its temperate oceanside climate.
During the Gilded Age of the late 19th century, Newport gained prominence as leaders of finance and industry from New York and elsewhere built ever-larger “summer cottages” and enjoyed a glittering social life of dinners, sports and parties. By the turn of the century, these cottages included European-inspired palaces such as Marble House, The Breakers, The Elms and Rosecliff.
The Gilded Age came to a close in the 1910s with the advent of the federal income tax and the First World War. The Great Depression accelerated the decline of the great fortunes of the Gilded Age, and the mansions received less upkeep, were abandoned or fell to demolition.
In 1945, The Preservation Society of Newport County was founded by a group of residents to save Hunter House, a 200-year-old Georgian Colonial on the harbor waterfront. Three years later, to raise funds for the restoration of Hunter House, the Preservation Society began giving public tours of The Breakers in collaboration with Countess Széchenyi, the former Gladys Vanderbilt. The organization’s first Gilded Age acquisition came in 1962, when it saved The Elms (1901) from being razed. The next year, Marble House (1892) was given to the Preservation Society through the auspices of Harold S. Vanderbilt. More historic houses were purchased or bequeathed over the next decade, including Chateau-sur-Mer (1852), The Breakers (1895), Kingscote (1839) and Rosecliff (1902). Today the Preservation Society is the steward of 11 historic properties, including seven National Historic Landmarks.
Parking is free onsite at all properties except for Hunter House and The Breakers Stable & Carriage House, where street parking is available.
Answers to some of our most frequently asked questions.
Explore the 11 properties under the stewardship of the Preservation Society and open as historic house museums.
Partners in Preservation