The Mansions of Newport, Rhode Island: Background information when reading The American Heiress

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The American Heiress

A Novel

by Daisy Goodwin

The American Heiress
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  • Paperback:
    Mar 2012, 496 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Elizabeth Whitmore Funk

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Beyond the Book:
The Mansions of Newport, Rhode Island

During the Gilded Age (1865-1914), America experienced a boom in railroad tycoons and oil barons, and a great deal of wealth was concentrated in the real estate of Newport, Rhode Island. Wealthy families like the Vanderbilts and Astors flocked to Newport each summer, and as their appreciation for the New England coast grew, they built opulent mansions that were affectionately referred to as summer "cottages." These stately homes are immortalized in Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence, from which Daisy Goodwin draws inspiration for The American Heiress.

Rhode Island map Many of the Newport mansions are constructed from imported Italian marble and are designed in the Beaux-Arts style (named after the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris where it was taught), which features grandiose architectural structures, ornate decorative detailing, and large stairways, arches and balconies. Beaux-Arts architecture was heavily influenced by the French Châteauesque style, inspired by country homes built ...

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