Wednesday, August 19, 2009

American Resorts

Edwardian Promenade reports on Newport.
Newport, known as the Queen of Resorts, or as Elizabeth Drexel Lehr stated ironically in her memoirs: “the very Holy and Holies, the playground of the great ones of the earth from which all intruders were ruthlessly excluded,” was transformed each summer for the sole and very conspicuous consumption of New York’s most exclusive society. Entree into this tiny kingdom by the sea was highly sought after, and nothing–not wealth, lavish entertainments, nor even making a splash in the highest European circles could crack this nut–as the grand doyenne of Chicago society, Mrs Potter Palmer, soon discovered when she made her first foray into the city. But Mrs Palmer was made of sterner stuff and she kept battering the gates of social recognition until the Mrs Astor had to acknowledge her Midwest counterpart. Many others, however, were not so determined nor so successful in their attempts to enter Newport society, and defeated and with lightened pockets, they were apt to sail away to more congenial climes, perhaps even Narragansett Pier, a smart Rhode Island city, though not as smart as Newport, of course.


Julygirl said...

A trip worth taking. I might add, (in keeping with Tea At Trianon), that some rooms in the mansions were lifted and shipped over from the stately salons of France.

Although Mrs. Astor was the ruling maven of Newport, her home was/is relatively humble architecturally speaking.

tubbs said...

Someone should write a book - full of anecdotes about the desperate social strivings of nouveaux riche american matrons. (Heck, I bet those about Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy alone could fill up a whole chapter!)
Does anyone here recall that wonderful Gibson cartoon of the social-climbing matron dragging her hapless daughter to the altar to marry some syphillitic gnome who had no money - but only an ancient title? The cartoon was based on the real life of poor Consuelo Vanderbuilt.

Julygirl said...

I just read the book "Davina" loosely based on the life of Maria Callas. There is a scene in the book where the Aristotle Onnasis character says he is so glad when he does not have to entertain Europeans and Americans and can drink Ouzo and eat stuffed grape leaves instead of Champagne and Cavier.