Sunday, September 2, 2018


Based upon the Grand Trianon at Versailles, Rosecliff "cottage" in Newport exceeds in opulence the grandeur of the original. From the New York Social Diary:
Herman Oelrichs was almost forty, and had never been married. The year after they met, Herman married Tessie. The couple’s wedding present from the father was a check for a million dollars. A million dollars then would be like $40 million today.

These were the days of the Gilded Age. The haute monde of New York did not go to the Hamptons, they went to Newport where they built enormous houses and in some cases, palaces, and in a pretentious bid for modesty, referred to them as “cottages.” By the mid-1890s, both Vanderbilt palaces in Newport – Cornelius Vanderbilt II’s The Breakers and his brother William K. Vanderbilt’s Marble House -- had been completed. These houses set the tone for future “cottages” of any importance. Tessie Oelrichs got the message, and she intended to abide by it.

The Oelrichs bought fourteen acres right on the ocean and Bellevue Avenue called Rosecliff. The place had been owned by man named George Bancroft who raised roses (and created the American Beauty Rose). The original house was ample and wooden and comfortable, but to the young, rich and socially ambitious Mrs. Oelrichs, it was what today is called a “teardown.” And down it came.

Stanford White, a contemporary and social peer of Hermann Oelrichs, and one of the hottest architects of the day for the very rich, was consulted. The popular architecture for the rich was something they called “scientific eclecticism” -- buildings that reflected a specific historic prototype, i.e., Renaissance, Roman, Egyptian, Greek, etc. Whatever the style, it was reworked from the original to accommodate the progress of modern man, like electricity, heat, plumbing. For the new Rosecliff and for Tessie Oelrichs a little girl from Virginia City, Nevada, White proposed a model of Jules Hardouin Mansart’s Grand Trianon at Versailles. Fit for a queen. (Read more.)

Photos courtesy of Deborah Mariel Piroch Share

No comments: