Tuesday, October 5, 1999
If the Gilded Age were to be summed up
by a single house, it would be
Measuring 250 ft. by 150 ft., containing
70 rooms, the four story limestone palace
is as much a monument to its time as it was
a summer home for Cornelius Vanderbilt II
and his family.
Exactly how the house came to be so large is uncertain.
Photos by Pat Tyler
Could it be that Cornelius scrapped the plans to replace the original
Breakersthat had burned to the ground in 1892for a much larger
building modeled after the Renaissance palaces of Turin and Genoa because
his brother George had something very grand under construction in
Ashville, North Carolina?
Work on The Breakers began in 1893 and was completed in just over two
years. That was a remarkable feat considering the workmen did not have the
benefit of modern tools and machinery. Corps of workers, numbering in the
hundreds, took part in the building, laying the walls up stone by stone.
Whoile rooms were designed and built is shops of European craftsmen, then
shipped to Newport for assembly.
For months, as the house went up, Newport society
eagerly anticipated the opening of The Breakers.
The house, it was rumored, contained tons of are
treasures gathered in Italy and France.
When the housewarming, combined with a coming-
out party for 20-year-old Gertrude Vanderbilt,
was held August 14, 1895 the reality of The
Breakers outshone the rumors.
When younger brother, George welcomed family
and friends to Biltmore Estate, in North
Carolina, on Christmas Eve in 1895, his
holiday celebration marked the formal opening
of the most ambitious home ever conceived
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