rosecliff06.jpg (71405 bytes) New York Architecture Images- Newport Mansions, Brooklyn



McKim, Mead and White


Bellevue Avenue








Commissioned by Nevada silver heiress Theresa Fair Oelrichs in 1899, architect Stanford White modeled Rosecliff after the Grand Trianon, the garden retreat of French kings at Versailles. After the house was completed in 1902, at a reported cost of $2.5 million, Mrs. Oelrichs hosted fabulous entertainments here, including a fairy tale dinner and a party featuring famed magician Harry Houdini. 
"Tessie", as she was known to her friends, was born in Virginia City, Nevada. Her father, James Graham Fair, was an Irish immigrant who made an enormous fortune from Nevada's Comstock silver lode, one of the richest silver finds in history. During a summer in Newport, Theresa met Hermann Oelrichs playing tennis at the Newport Casino. They were married in 1890. A year later, they purchased the property known as Rosecliff from the estate of historian and diplomat George Bancroft. An amateur horticulturist, it was Bancroft who developed the American Beauty Rose. The Oelrichs later bought additional property along Bellevue Avenue and commissioned Stanford White to replace the original house with the mansion that became the setting for many of Newport's most lavish parties. 
Rosecliff is now preserved through the generosity of its last private owners, Mr. And Mrs. J. Edgar Monroe, of New Orleans. They gave the house, its furnishings, and an endowment to the Preservation Society in 1971. 
Scenes from several films have been shot on location at Rosecliff, including High Society, The Great Gatsby, True Lies and Amistad. 

Stanford White's inspiration for Rosecliff was the Grand Trianon at Versailles. The brick walls were finished in off-white terra cotta tiles, creating a sense of lightness and grace. Mrs. Oelrich loved the color white. It reflected her obsession with cleanliness. Her instructions to her staff included changing the beds daily whether or not guests used the beds.
One of the most impressive features of Rosecliff is the heart shaped limestone staircase, also known as "the sweetheart's staircase". Mrs. Oelrich was one of the grand hostesses of Newport and thus the most important room in the house was the centrally located ballroom. It measures 40 by 80 feet and is the largest Newport ballroom.

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