The Stunning Newport Spot You & Your Fav History Buff Will Want To See This Season
Marble House in Newport. I’ve been a ton of times and bet you have too. The one absolutely incredible thing I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve missed all these years of going to the mansions is the Chinese style tea house out on the back lawn that overlooks the water.
So last week I got myself over there and got a good look at the gorgeous structure that Alva Vanderbilt Belcourt had built beginning in 1912 - after her 2nd husband had died (more about all that in a sec) and she was rallying the ladies of Newport and beyond around the Women’s Suffrage Movement. (Speaking of which, you may have caught a glimpse of the Votes For Women cups and saucers in one of the kitchen cabinets in the main house.)
Okay, let’s get into the gossip-y drama for one minute: Alva’s first husband, W.K. Vanderbilt, a grandson of the railroad tycoon Cornelius, had Marble House built for her as a birthday present for her 39th. She ultimately divorced him after he was less than faithful, married his friend Oliver Belmont (She had been quoted as saying that you marry the first time for money and the second for love - although Belmont was certainly no slouch in the wealth department.), and moved across the street to Belcourt Castle. After her second husband died, however, she moved back (She’d kept the MH property as part of the divorce settlement from W.K..) and started work on the exquisite Tea House. She brought in her go-to architects Hunt & Hunt from New York City whose design for it was inspired by 12th century Sung dynasty temples, as well as builders directly from China. (And we thought Kris and Kylie Jenner’s closets full of Birkin bags in last month’s issue of AD magazine were a big deal.)
Flash forward to 1977 when the Tea House was moved back 75 feet from the edge of the property for safety reasons, and then to 2016 when it underwent a renovation. These days it’s not so much a tea room in the classic sense as it is the most beautiful snack bar you’ll probably come across in these continental United States. Still though, it is NOT to be missed next time you’re in the area and it’s accessible as part of the entry fee to Marble House. Grab a water, coffee, tea, or cookie and definitely snap some photos of the interior and exterior. Not gonna lie - I am more than a little surprised that I haven’t seen more people checking in from there over the years, it’s stunning!
Photo Credits: All photos at the Tea House are courtesy of PattyJ.com
PS ~ One of the funniest things I read online whilst researching this post was courtesy of someone who had toured the main house in the last few years and mentioned the resemblance between the family photos and CNN news guy Anderson Cooper who is a descendant by way of his iconic mom Gloria.