Featured in United States Monthly Themes, Famous Places, August 26, 2012
The Elms is a large mansion, or “summer cottage”, located at 367 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island, in the United States. The Elms was designed by architect Horace Trumbauer for the coal baron Edward Julius Berwind, and was completed in 1901. Its design was copied from the Château d’Asnières in Asnières-sur-Seine, France. The gardens and landscaping were created by C. H. Miller and E. W. Bowditch, working closely with Trumbauer. The Elms has been designated a National Historic Landmark and today is open to the public.
The estate was constructed from 1899 to 1901 and cost approximately 1.5 million dollars to build. Like most Newport estates of the Gilded Age, The Elms is constructed with a steel frame with brick partitions and a limestone facade.
On the first floor the estate has a grand ballroom, a salon, a dining room, a breakfast room, a library, a conservatory, and a grand hallway with a marble floor. The second floor contains bedrooms for the family and guests as well as a private sitting room. The third floor contains bedrooms for the indoor servants.
In 1961 when the last family owner Julia Berwind died, The Elms was one of the very last Newport cottages to be run in the fashion of the Gilded Age: forty servants were on staff, and Miss Berwind’s social season remained at six weeks. Childless, Julia Berwind willed the estate to a nephew, who did not want it and fruitlessly tried to pass The Elms to someone else in the family. Finally the family auctioned off the contents of the estate and sold the property to a developer who wanted to tear it down. In 1962, just weeks before its date with the wrecking ball, The Elms was purchased by the Preservation Society of Newport County for $116,000. The price included the property along with adjacent guest houses. Since then, the house has been open to the public for tours. On June 19, 1996, it was designated a National Historic Landmark.