Skip to main content
History of


With its celebrated heart-shaped grand staircase and the largest ballroom in Newport, this elegant mansion overlooking the Atlantic Ocean recalls lost Gilded Age summers filled with extravagant parties like the one featured in 1974’s The Great Gatsby, which filmed scenes at Rosecliff.

Commissioned by Nevada silver heiress Theresa Fair Oelrichs in 1899, architect Stanford White modeled Rosecliff after the Grand Trianon, the garden retreat of French kings at Versailles. After the house was completed in 1902, at a reported cost of $2.5 million, Mrs. Oelrichs hosted fabulous entertainments here, including a fairy tale dinner and a party featuring famed magician Harry Houdini.

“Tessie,” as she was known to her friends, was born in Virginia City, Nevada. Her father, James Graham Fair, was an Irish immigrant who made an enormous fortune from Nevada’s Comstock silver lode, one of the richest silver finds in history. During a summer in Newport, Theresa met Hermann Oelrichs playing tennis at the Newport Casino. They were married in 1890.

A year later, they purchased the property known as Rosecliff from the estate of historian and diplomat George Bancroft. An amateur horticulturist, Bancroft grew thousands of roses at Rosecliff and his gardens along the Cliff Walk were famous. The Oelrichs later bought additional property along Bellevue Avenue and commissioned Stanford White to replace the original house with the mansion that became the setting for many of Newport’s most lavish parties. Rosecliff is now preserved through the generosity of its last private owners, Mr. and Mrs. J. Edgar Monroe of New Orleans. They gave the house, its furnishings and an endowment to the Preservation Society in 1971.

Scenes from several films have been shot at Rosecliff, including “The Great Gatsby,” “True Lies,” “Amistad” and “27 Dresses.” The front facade was shown during Season 1 of HBO’s “The Gilded Age,” but transported by special effects to a street in New York City.

  • Original Builder

    Theresa Fair Oelrichs

  • Construction Dates


  • Ownership transferred to the Preservation Society


Visit Rosecliff

Rosecliff was built for Nevada silver heiress Theresa Fair Oelrichs, who used it to host many fabulous Gilded Age entertainments. Architect Stanford White modeled Rosecliff after the Grand Trianon, the garden retreat of French kings at Versailles.

Visit Rosecliff

Additional Visitor Info

Partners in Preservation

BartlettLogo_white BNP-white