Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Stately World of Newport

Being fitted for a costume ball, Mrs. Sheldon Whitehouse tries on a 19th
Century Gown long treasured in a trunk.
Harold Vanderbilt and guest Winthrop Aldrich look out to sea from the
fog-shrouded lawn of Vanderbilt's Newport mansion, Rock Cliff.
In a Newport mansion a lady stood stately and erect while her maid pinned her gown. On the lawn of a palatial Newport estate two yachtsmen gazed wistfully toward the sea. They were all anticipating the excitement and splendor that they and the famous resort once knew - and would never forget. In Newport's grandiose prime a half century ago a party wasn't really a party in one of the great marble homes 200 guests, attended by 100 knee-breeched footmen, sat down to dinner before solid-gold plates. The grandeur has simmered down since then, but enough of it remains so that, on the proper occasion, the elite can once again perform extravagantly.
     This week, such an occasion arises with the sailing of the America's Cup races off Newport's shores. Mansions maintained by nostalgic owners with skeleton staffs of four to eight servants will come alive with lights and polite revelry. In great houses that have been turned into museums there will be enormous receptions. Harold Vanderbilt, victorious skipper in the 1903 America's cup defense, will reign as the resort's patriarch. The younger New Guard of Newport will, for this occasion, join with the Old Guard in a collective effort to show when Newport decides to entertain is has no peer for pomp

          ~ LIFE Magazine, September 21, 1962. 
Click HERE to read the full article, which also includes pictures of many of the Newport socialites and cottages. 

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