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New England
Wednesday, September 23, A.D. 2009
Newport Mansions

In late July, my father and I visited Newport, Rhode Island, where we had the chance to tour some of the lovely Newport Mansions.

We stayed at the Newport Marriot near the harbor. We were both very impressed by the hotel; it was perfectly situated, the room was great, and the public areas were impressive. The nautical decor in the lobby and atrium, on the carpets, and even in the shaft of the glass elevator (where the basement level featured an “underwater” scene) added charm. The gym and pool area were nice, and the gym offered free fruit in the morning. From our room, we could see the harbor, but the view was not exceptional as it looked mostly at the parking lot. Still, I could not have hoped for a better place.

The drawback to the hotel was that we had to pay $20 for parking. However, the hotel said that we could leave our car in the lot after check out so that we could explore Newport without having to worry about parking. That sounded like good advice—though we soon realized that it would have been better to have driven.

After checking out and storing our luggage in the car, Dad and I walked next door to the Newport Visitors’ Center, which we found still closed. While we waited for it to open, we checked out the minor league baseball stadium across the street. At the Visitors’ Center, we picked up some free maps and bought our tickets for the Newport mansions. I recommend the Newport Mansions Experience. For $31, it allows you to visit five of the mansions, and you do not have to use all of the tickets on the same day; they do not expire. The trouble, then, is deciding on which five to choose. We followed the counter lady’s advice and visited The Elms, Chateau-sur-Mer, Rosecliff, Marble House, and The Breakers. I had wanted to see Kingscote, as well, but I thought it best to listen to the woman.

We walked from the Visitors’ Center through the harbor area. We were later told that the harbor was slummy until the city decided to clean it up in the 1980’s. It was pretty appealing with shops, museums, and restaurants. It reminded me a bit of Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. We then started to walk uphill toward Bellevue Avenue where most of the extant mansions are. On the way, we visited Saint Mary’s Church, where John and Jacqueline Kennedy married. The inside of the church was very pleasant. I particularly enjoyed the twelve apostles’ heads above the columns.

The first mansion that we visited was The Elms. I cannot describe the mansions justly, and online photographs are rather insufficient, as well. So, I’ll just link some pictures and mention a few random points about each mansion that come to mind.

The best thing about The Elms was the grounds; it probably had the best landscaping of any mansion, though without the superb coastline of the mansions on the shore. I especially liked the old beech trees throughout the property as well as the sunken gardens.

My favorite room in the “cottage” was the orangerie room that looked out on the lawn.

We next walked to Chateau-sur-Mer, one of the oldest mansions in Newport. The design of the house was fascinating, with the central hall open to the top of the house and each floor forming a balcony around the open space.

I especially liked the family photographs that decorated the home. George Peabody Wetmore had four children, and they appeared to have enjoyed life a lot. The grounds around the house were lovely, too. I liked the “moongate.” I also liked the gardens around the carriage house with their abundant foxgloves.

Rosecliff was our next destination down Bellevue Avenue. It reminded me of a Beverly Hills mansion—perhaps because it resembled the house in the hillbilly show.

The ballroom was the most stunning part of the house; it was supposed to resemble Versailles’ Hall of Mirrors, though the house was modeled on the Grand Trianon at Versailles rather than the palace itself. With Rosecliff, we finally got to see the coast. The backyard ran into the ocean, and it was quite a sight. The side rose garden was quite charming. There were some climbers there that smelt lovely. I also enjoyed the dogs’ graveyard near the rose garden.

We then walked past the road to The Breakers, which we wanted to save for the end, to see the second most important Vanderbilt summer cottage—Marble House.

The exposition of the house focused on Alva, William Kissam Vanderbilt’s wife who had the home built. She was a character—a supporter of the arts and of feminist politics. She also was the mother of Consuelo whom I first “met” at Blenheim Palace outside Oxford, England. For Alva had her daughter marry John Spencer-Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough. Marble House was remarkable in so many ways. I liked the soft earth toned marble inside the house, and my favorite room was the medieval style library. The golden room was pretty amazing, too. I also liked the pagoda shaped Chinese Tea House in the backyard. The home, like Rosecliff and The Breakers, had a fabulous view of the ocean.

William Kissam Vanderbilt’s older brother, Cornelius Vanderbilt II, had his summer home nearby at The Breakers.

It appears that Cornelius inherited the good sense of his grandfather and father, unlike his brother William. For he married a good, wholesome woman, with whom he was a Sunday school teacher, he was a generous philanthropist, and he was an industrious worker. Still, he liked life’s good things. He built homes as a hobby, as architecture and design were ways for him to relax from the family business. He had much to occupy him at The Breakers; it was huge—and extraordinary. It might be over the top, but I liked it a lot. The magnificent central hall, the billiards room patterned after ancient Roman baths, the dining room, and the fountain alcove under the stairs were spectacular. Yet, the most impressive part of the house for me was the two balconies that faced the ocean. They were stunning.

Below, you can see the house from the back; the lower and upper balconies are visible.

The Breakers deserves its fame as the grandest house in Newport. I have not yet visited the Biltmore Estate, which was built by the youngest brother of Cornelius II and William Kissam, George Washington Vanderbilt II, but I think that The Breakers is the finest house that I have so far seen in America.

The walk from the Marriot to Bellevue Avenue was not bad, and the mansions along Bellevue Avenue were not far apart. Yet, by the end of the day, my father was tired of standing and of walking. So, instead of walking back to the hotel, we caught a trolley bus that took us straight to the Visitors’ Center next to the hotel. In hindsight, it would have been more time efficient and better for my father had we just driven the car from house to house. The tourism officials warned us about parking, but there would have been no problem.

Once we had the car, we drove along Bellevue once again to reach the scenic Ocean Drive along the coast. Repeatedly, my sea loving father mentioned how great it would be to live in Newport—though not in the winter. I can easily see why America’s elite used to “summer” in the town. It is just a shame that most of the mansions have been destroyed since the 1930’s. It is hard to maintain family wealth with socialistic policies that plunder inheritance.

Posted by Joseph on Wednesday, September 23, Anno Domini 2009
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Saturday, August 8, A.D. 2009

After my father and I left Cape Cod to head for Boston, we stopped in Plymouth, Massachusetts to pay our respects to the first Yankees. As we approached Plymouth, I started getting rather excited in an unexpected way. I knew that I wanted to see the town, but I was thrilled when we finally arrived. I wondered why. I think that it was because I had learnt of Plymouth in my earliest years. I’m sure that we learnt about the “first Thanksgiving” in Kindergarten, and pop culture (e.g. the Peanuts’ Thanksgiving cartoon) likely helped etch the significance of the town into my mind, as well. So, the joy of finally visiting a place that was one of the first places about which I had learnt anything suddenly sprang forth from my soul.

Plymouth is a charming little town that capitalizes well on its history. It looks like the town did a lot for the three hundredth anniversary of the pilgrims’ landing, and the parks, statues, and sites from the 1920’s appropriately mark Plymouth’s significance. Naturally, we first visited the waterfront and saw Plymouth Rock. Fortunately, a guide was there who explained the history of the rock. I wanted to touch it as a civic relic, but the tricentennial plan placed the rock beyond the reach of hands.

Afterward, we walked along the waterfront and looked at the various monuments to the pilgrims, various persons of note, and the Pilgrim women. The absence of obnoxious, Leftist revisionism was refreshing; for the offensive “Thanksgiving is our national day of mourning” Plimoth Plantation is a few miles away. The organization sadly owns the lovely Mayflower II, which is anchored at the waterfront. We admired the commemorative boat that the English gave us in the 1950’s as a goodwill gesture, but I refused to pay Plimoth Plantation any money to board it. Those ungrateful parasites suck enough of our blood; I am not willingly feeding their propaganda fund.

We left the waterfront and made our way through some lovely gardens on the southeastern end of the historical area. We came to the old center of town where the courthouse and churches stood. The site of the original Puritan house of worship, First Parish Church, became a Unitarian congregation at the turn of the nineteenth century, but the trinitarian members of the town built a trinitarian church right next to it after the change—the Church of the Pilgrimage. The Unitarian building was closed, but the trinitarian church, now part of the United Church of Christ, was open. It was my first time in a United Church of Christ building. It is curious to think of them as the “traditionalist” option in town, but Massachusetts was ground zero for heretics of heretics.

My father and I then visited Burial Hill behind the churches. It was amazingly macabre in a beautiful and peaceful sort of way. We paid our respects to various pilgrims, including William Bradford, before we made our way back into the town. The last thing that we visited in Plymouth was the National Monument to the Forefathers, which looked unfortunately abandoned. I suppose that the Massachusetts government is currently too busy authorizing lesbian weddings and shoveling money at illegal aliens to look after its people’s patrimony. Nonetheless, it was nice to see that Massachusettians from the nineteenth century still valued their heritage.

I really liked Plymouth. If you are ever in Massachusetts, I recommend spending a day at the place where the English Separatists established themselves in America.

Posted by Joseph on Saturday, August 8, Anno Domini 2009
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Tuesday, July 28, A.D. 2009

Today, my father and I shall wake up in Saint Johnsbury, Vermont, ready to enjoy riding through Vermont’s countryside and visiting the homes of some of the Green State’s finest products. If I were traveling with my mother, we would have to visit the Dog Chapel on Dog Mountain. However, my Dad and I plan to visit Maple Grove Farms, Cabot Cheese Creamery, Cold Hollow Cider Mill, and Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory. If we can still move after indulging ourselves in such edible delights, we hope to stroll around hippie Burlington and enjoy the views of Lake Champlain.

See my post on “Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream.”

Posted by Joseph on Tuesday, July 28, Anno Domini 2009
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Monday, July 27, A.D. 2009
Portland, Maine

Today, my Dad and I shall visit Portland and Cape Elizabeth. We’ll check out the Old Port, Portland Head Light, and whatever other cool thing the Mainers suggest.

Posted by Joseph on Monday, July 27, Anno Domini 2009
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Sunday, July 26, A.D. 2009

Today, my father and I continue our visit to Boston. Over the weekend, I hope to visit the main historical sites, such as Boston Common, the Boston National Historical Park, the U.S.S. Constitution, the Old North Church, Harvard University, Faneuil Hall’s Quincy Market, and the Granary Burying Ground.

Posted by Joseph on Sunday, July 26, Anno Domini 2009
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Friday, July 24, A.D. 2009
Cape Cod

Today, Dad and I shall visit Cape Cod. I debated visiting Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket during the trip, but we just won’t have enough time to justify island excursions. I hope to return one day to visit New England in more depth. This trip will be more of a survey vacation.

Among the towns that we might visit are Provincetown and Sandwich. I’d like to see the Pilgrim Monument near the end of the cape. On the way, we’ll surely visit the Cape Cod National Seashore. I love our national parks.

If we have time, I would also like to visit the Cape Cod Chips factory. I enjoy factory tours in general; it is neat to see the origin of products that I use.

We may visit Plymouth on the way to Boston this evening. I want to see the rock! We may visit other sites around the town, such as the Alden House and Burial Hill, though I refuse to visit the Leftist revisionist racket, Plimoth Plantation. It is too bad; I would like to tour the Mayflower II.

See my post on “Plymouth.”

Posted by Joseph on Friday, July 24, Anno Domini 2009
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Thursday, July 23, A.D. 2009
Newport, Rhode Island

Today, Dad and I shall visit Newport, Rhode Island.

We plan to enjoy the sea, as my old sailor father loves the water. I imagine that we’ll see plenty of lighthouses during our trip.

In Newport, we’ll definitely visit some of the Newport Mansions, too. I love visiting castles, palaces, plantations, and fine homes. It is good to see that some rich folks made beautiful settings for their lives. I wonder if the current crop of plutocrats will bequeath posterity residences worthy of visiting.

If we have some extra time, I would like to visit the Naval War College Museum, as well.

See my post on the “Newport Mansions.”

Posted by Joseph on Thursday, July 23, Anno Domini 2009
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Wednesday, July 22, A.D. 2009

Today, I am leaving on my first trip to New England. I have never before been further up the East Coast than the Bronx.

I’ll soon pick my father up at B.W.I., and then we’ll make our trek up I-95 into the land of the Yankees. Please pray for us; I have heard unanimous reports of Massachusetts drivers.

For the next week, I have created a series of entries that will post each day concerning our stop for that day. After the trip, I’ll add linked posts to serve as travel reviews of the places visited.

Today, we plan to stop in New Haven, Connecticut to visit Yale University, Grove Street Cemetery, New Haven Green, and other historical sites near Yale.

Posted by Joseph on Wednesday, July 22, Anno Domini 2009
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