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another view of the house
Photo Credit: guyonthego

Chateau-sur-Mer

474 Bellevue Avenue Newport, RI 02840
Open 10:00am-6:00pm in summer, generally fewer hours other times of year
401-847-1000 2 hours
July 2014 Summer, Fall, Spring
$10-29 Newport Rhode Island
Website Historical Homes
First review
 
Chateau-sur-Mer is a mansion built in 1852 and extensively remodeled in the 1870s. It was a year-round home and although elegant, it is not as lavish or ostentatious as some of the more famous Newport seasonal mansions. House visits are restricted to guided tours only. You may have a short wait, but reservations are not required. Pictures are not permitted inside. By the way, the house name is French for castle by the sea.

The home was built for William Wetmore, who became wealthy from an overseas trade business. He died in 1862 and left the property to his son George who later hired noted architect Richard Morris Hunt to redesign the house. Unlike other Gilded Age homes in Newport, which were built from scratch, Hunt incorporated the existing structure into his design and blended architectural aspects from the Victorian and Second French Empire styles. George enjoyed a long successful career in politics. He died in 1921, followed by his wife in 1927. The house then passed to their daughters and was purchased by the Preservation Society in 1969.

A tour had started about 5 minutes prior to arriving, but the another tour was scheduled 20 minutes later and waiting provided some time to walk the grounds. There were some large trees around the house and a nearby croquet court, but the grounds were otherwise unremarkable. There were no ocean views. A house tour guide named Bernard did a great job; he was enthusiastic and shared many insights and details about the house and family. If you have an option, try to get on his tour. Bernard said the house was constantly in need of repairs, and there was some renovation work going on at the time. Scaffolding in an upstairs hallway was somewhat unsightly but did not unduly detract from the tour experience. Chateau-sur-Mer is relatively modest compared to the Breakers or Marble House, but it’s interesting architecturally, especially in regard to features that Hunt retained and enhancements he added. The tour includes two floors and was supposed to last an hour but went slightly over. The three-story Great Hall is the most impressive room. Chateau-sur-Mer will most interest those into architecture and older homes, and especially people who like a more detailed and informative perspective. Since it lacks the "wow" factor of larger nearby Gilded Age homes, if time is limited, the Breakers or the Elms are more impressive and will have greater mainstream appeal.
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guyonthego
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