Christmas at the Newport Mansions returns to The Breakers, The Elms and Marble House with newly imagined holiday decor through January 1, 2019. Rosecliff will also be open in December, with a new exhibition, Bill Cunningham: Facades, featuring photographs by the late New York Times photographer.
Dozens of volunteers will spend a month working on decorations, putting up trees, hanging ornaments, garlands, and wreaths, among other activities. The decorations in each house—and individual rooms—are tailored to match the historic decor. Many new trees and ornaments have been added this year, and decorating schemes have been re-imagined, including new tour routes through some rooms and new museum interpretation of historical collections.
Throughout the three houses, there will be a total of 25 large decorated Christmas trees, plus additional smaller potted trees and topiaries. Hundreds of live flowers will add to the decor in each house, including poinsettias, lilies, cyclamen, azaleas, paperwhites, amaryllis, and mini-evergreens. Windows in each mansion are lit with individual white candles.
New this year, professional event designers will create contemporary holiday tablescapes in the dining rooms at Marble House and The Elms, and in the Breakfast Room of The Breakers, to provide inspiration and ideas to visitors for ways they can decorate their own holiday tables.
In the Dining Room of The Breakers, the table will be extended and decorated for a traditional High Victorian Christmas, with an elaborate floral centerpiece, vintage china, glassware, and flatware. The room will also feature new Christmas topiaries.
New 9 foot tall Christmas trees will be added to the Vanderbilt family bedrooms on the second floor for the first time, with all new decorating schemes.
The traditional 15-foot tall red poinsettia tree will once again be on view in the Great Hall of The Breakers. Made of up to 150 individual plants, the poinsettia tree is a perennial visitor favorite. On the second floor loggia, a garden scale Hudson JE Steam Locomotive, a replica of one of the Vanderbilt family’s New York Central Railroad locomotives with accompanying cars, will run on a newly designed track and landscape layout.
At The Elms, a cluster of three angel-themed Christmas trees in the Ballroom will provide a selfie photo backdrop for visitors. Many of the other rooms will see new decorative layouts and tree ornaments. A collection of vintage holiday toys and Santas, donated to the Preservation Society over the years by Berwind family descendant Margaret Schiffer, will be curated and displayed with interpretive signage in the basement cold kitchen.
Marble House will also feature many new decorative elements. The 12 foot Christmas tree in the entrance foyer, previously staged under the staircase, will be moved to the center of the hall. The oversized wreath hung on the marble staircase wall has been redecorated, and six matching smaller wreaths will be hung on the French doors overlooking the terrace.
New larger trees have been added to other rooms as well. For the first time, Alva Vanderbilt’s bedroom will feature a 9 foot tree decorated with purple feathers and ribbons matching the room’s historic purple wall covering.
The exterior of the Marble House also includes a 25-foot tall live tree decorated with white lights, displayed directly in front of the elevated entrance driveway.
Rosecliff will open on December 2 for tours, including the exhibition Bill Cunningham: Facades in the second-floor gallery. The show celebrates the creative intersection of fashion and architecture through the lens of a visionary photographer who documented the architectural riches and fashion history of New York City.
Visits with Santa Claus
Santa Claus will make a special trip to Newport from the North Pole to visit the houses in December. Children can visit with Santa Claus in a spectacular setting from noon to 3 p.m. at The Breakers on December 2, Marble House on December 9, and The Elms on December 16. The visit with Santa is included in the regular admission price. Don’t forget your camera!
Holiday Evenings at the Newport Mansions
Recreate the ambiance of an evening soirée during the Gilded Age. These open house evenings allow guests to stroll at their leisure through the decorated house, listening to live holiday music and enjoying cookies, eggnog and cider. Holiday Evenings at The Breakers are scheduled for Saturdays, December 1, 8, 22 and 29, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. On December 15, guests can enjoy a Holiday Evening Duet: The Elms and Marble House, and see both of those houses for the price of one, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Admission to Holiday Evenings is $35 in advance, $45 day of the event. Children 6-17 are admitted for $10 in advance, $15 day-of. Children under the age of 6 are admitted free. Preservation Society members enjoy reduced admission, $30 in advance, $35 day-of. On December 15, a single ticket provides access to The Elms and Marble House, as well as shuttle service operating between the two houses. More information and tickets are available online at NewportMansions.org or call (401) 847-1000.
The Breakers, The Elms and Marble House will be fully decorated and open daily for tours, except Christmas Day, through January 1, 2019. Tickets can be purchased online at NewportMansions.org, or each property.