4 Things You'll Want To Know About The Heiress Who Saved Newport

view of the Pell Bridge from the Cliff Walk, which Doris Duke helped fund

view of the Pell Bridge from the Cliff Walk, which Doris Duke helped fund

I've arrived at a place in my life where I can appreciate the little things. A freshly brewed cuppa coffee (no to mud!). Well priced jeans that also don't make my butt look ginormous. And a tour guide who really knows their stuff. Yesterday was golden because it combined all three, with the really key one being our knowledgeable tour guide at Rough Point, aka, Doris Duke's summer (May thru November actually) place.


Now, if you're like me, most everything you knew about Ms. Duke up until this point has been gleened from gossipy articles, that 2006 made-for-pay-tv movie that admits to having taken some creative license, and cocktail type banter with random ppl. Sure she played an integral part in the rehab of Downtown Newport, helping create the park that Trinity Church now overlooks as well as of course funding the famous restoration of the Cliff Walk, but did you also know that:

  1. Doris Duke had an extensive ORGANIC vegetable garden on her property at Rough Point in Newport that's still maintained to this day. That green philosophy also extended to the upkeep of lawns, flowers, and trees on the property. This is pre-Whole Foods, GP and GOOP, farmers' market chic, and juice cleanse mania. So ahead of the curve, right?
  2. She had anywhere from 8 to 10 dogs at RP. And she allowed them access to the entire house, including the couches, some of which had six figure price tags. Share THAT with your friend who won't let her dog into the family room for fear he'll plant himself on the new-ish sofa from Mitchell Gold.
  3. And not one but two Camels, Princess and Baby, whose fav snack was (wait for it!) graham crackers, had the run of the backyard and may or may not have eaten thousands of dollars in flowers on numerous occasions. 
  4. She believed in the healing powers of salt water. So much so that when she was no longer able to jump off the rocks (that buffered RP) into the ocean, she had a salt water pool put in the basement of the manse. I had an Uber driver a few months back - while I was traveling over the winter and had gotten pretty sick - tell me to drink some ocean water. Not sure about doing that, but I would be onboard for staying at Gurney's in Newport and trying out one of their salt water on tap tubs. (A fact I'm acquainted with only because Goop's Jean Godfrey June wrote a beauty blog about it last summer. Highly recommending anything written by JGJ btw.)