I visited Newport, RI in June 2018 and along the way stopped in two of the Gilded Age mansions: The Elms and Rosecliff. I chose these two mansions as I had visited The Marble House and the Breakers about seven or eight years ago and wanted to see a different set of the Gilded Age mansions. This post focuses on the Rosecliff Mansion, which is one of the smallest of the Gilded Age mansions in Newport, RI.
History of the Rosecliff Mansion
Rosecliff was built by Theresa ("Tessie") Fair Oelrichs, a silver heiress from Nevada, whose father James Graham Fair was one of the four partners in the Comstock Lode. Tessie was the wife of Hermann Oelrichs, American agent for Norddeutscher Lloyd steamship line. She and her husband, together with her sister, Virginia Fair, bought the land in 1891 from the estate of George Bancroft and commissioned the architectural firm of McKim, Mead, and White  to design a summer home suitable for entertaining on a grand scale.
The commission for Rosecliff occurred in 1899, in which principal architect Stanford White modeled Rosecliff after the Grand Trianon, the garden retreat of French kings at Versailles. After Rosecliff was completed in 1902, at a reported cost of $2.5 million, Mrs. Oelrichs hosted opulent parties and displays of entertainment here, including a fairy tale dinner and a party featuring famed magician Harry Houdini.
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 Newport Preservation Society in 1971.
Interior Views of Rosecliff
Bohemian Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement and Oscar Wilde’s Newport
During my visit to Rosecliff, there was a special exhibition on Bohemian Beauty and Oscar Wilde's visit to Newport, RI. This exhibition celebrates the ideas embodied by the artists, poets, and thinkers popular during the Aesthetic Movement (1870-1890), an important era of artistic experimentation in the United States and abroad. The exhibition features a selection of furniture, ceramics, wallpaper, glass, silver, paintings, and costumes illuminating the tenets of this “art for art’s sake” movement personified by its most influential impresario Oscar Wilde.
As for Oscar Wilde's visit to Newport, the Preservation Society of Newport County provides an overview:
The Bohemian Beauty exhibition runs through November 4, 2018 at Rosecliff.
Rosecliff in Popular Culture
The ballroom of the Rosecliff Mansion was used to film scenes for the 1974 version of The Great Gatsby, as well as other films such as High Society, 27 Dresses, True Lies, and Amistad.
If You Go
Rosecliff is one of the Newport mansions that's open year-round. Confirm the schedule here.
I would recommend purchasing a ticket to Rosecliff with another Newport mansion, as you'll save some money doing so. Since most of the Newport mansions are within walking distance on Bellevue Avenue and don't take more than a couple of hours to explore, it's a good idea to see two mansions in a single day.
548 Bellevue Avenue
Newport, RI 02840
 The McKim of McKim, Mead, and White is the architect behind The Boston Public Library.