Fall in Vermont NewEnglandTimes Header

Green Line

Rough Point, Bellevue Avenue at Ocean Drive . Newport . Rhode Island, was one of Doris Duke’s several very private retreats and gives a wonderful glimpse of the Gilded Age in Newport. There are any number of elegant, sprawling "summer cottages" built by the likes of the Vanderbuilts and Astors in Newport, but this one is a particularly precious example of a deliciously opulent period in our history.

Perspective | Spring & Summer Seasons |


If you’re in Newport, Rhode Island, taking a stroll along Cliff Walk is a must. It will take you along a path that snakes between some of the biggest and most beautiful mansions in the world, and the ocean. Any number of exquisite houses rise majestically from the landscape, among them, Astors Beechwood, Chateau Sur Mer, Isaac Bell House, Kingscote, Marble House, Rosecliff, The Breakers and The Elms, but Rough Point is a standout for its marvelous furniture and art collections.

The Vanderbilts, who built their fortune in the railroad industry, were icons in Newport society and prodigious builders in the city. Frederick W. Vanderbilt built this enormous English Manorial house in 1889 on one of the choicest pieces of real estate on the East coast. It’s on a windswept promontory whose rocky shore juts into the Atlantic. The view is spectacular of both the ocean and the house.

James B. Duke, who made two fortunes, one in electric power and the other in tobacco, was the benefactor of Duke University. He purchased Rough Point in 1922, but died in 1925 after bequeathing much of his enormous financial empire and Rough Point to his daughter Doris, a twelve-year-old and only child. She lived here periodically throughout her life. Instead of living extravagantly, blissfully unaware of the needs of others, Doris became an enormously generous philanthropist. At just 21 years of age, she established Independent Aid, which became the Doris Duke Foundation. Throughout her life she supported medical research and was a child welfare advocate. By some estimates, she donated as much as $400 million dollars to worthy causes, often anonymously.

Rough Point, Newport, RI
Rough Point, the estate of Doris Duke. The mansion is owned and operated by the Newport Restoration Foundation, Newport, Rhode Island. Copyright © Newport Restoration Foundation, Newport, RI. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Rough Point contains the Duke family’s extensive collections of European fine and decorative arts, including works by Renoir, Bol, Gainsborough and Reynold; collections that took seven decades to build. In addition, there are collections of oriental porcelain, tapestries and textiles. Doris Duke herself, an active conservationist and preservationist, also collected Islamic and Southeast Asian art and fine furnishings, many examples of which can be found at Rough Point.

During the 1960s Ms. Duke recognized the need to preserve Newport’s crumbling, 18th century architecture, which was disappearing quickly, as was the case in many of the oldest U.S. cities. In 1968, she established the Newport Restoration Foundation (NRF). My grand uncle, J.A. Lloyd Hyde, a noted antiquarian and historian at the time and a close friend of Ms. Duke, worked closely with her on the project to restore and preserve historic Newport. Many properties, such as the Samuel Whitehorne House, the Overing House and Potter House on Prescott Farm, 40 houses in the Historic Hill Section and 27 houses in the Point Section were restored and preserved as a result of the NRF’s efforts. Some 100 architects and craftsmen worked for 16 years in what became one of the most ambitious preservation efforts ever undertaken.

Interestingly, when he restored his own house on Church Street after a fuel oil truck drove into his living room, my uncle discovered that the original builders had used seaweed as insulation.

Part of the Doiris Duke Collection
Some of the many wonderful pieces in Doris Duke’s collections at Rough Point. Copyright © Newport Restoration Foundation, Newport, RI. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Although her house at Rough Point contains a rich variety of different collections, from French furniture to English paintings, all of the highest quality, this was just a small part of her collecting interests, so the exhibit instead draws from all of her houses and her major collecting passions. Educated from an early age about art and music, Doris Duke followed her father—s example in some of her purchases, but developed her own appreciation for many other subject areas. Indeed, the family home in New York stood a few short blocks from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. While her father collected for the decoration of his houses, advised by the firm of Joseph Duveen, Doris Duke studied so that she could make informed decisions herself, and let her curiosity guide her to areas of collecting that were sometimes unfashionable at the time. As she built her home in Honolulu, enjoyed the family home at Duke Farms in New Jersey, and developed her love of Newport and Rough Point, she created astounding collections in each location, all of which can be sampled in the exhibition, The Duke Treasure Houses.

Masterpiece examples of her Newport collections, heirloom pieces, and collections of Eastern and Western art, will be featured in the exhibition, at Rough Point. Three famille verte jars will represent a huge variety of Chinese porcelains. Tiffany and Co. created a large silver swan centerpiece in 1874 that was a centerpiece of their display at the famous Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition of 1876 and has now become an icon of the silver that belonged to Doris Duke. One of a pair of ivory and silver tables made in eighteenth century Russia is an exotic piece, even in these collections, and probably came from the palace of Catherine the Great. A silver mounted saddle made in California for her second husband is a wonderful example of what were known as parade saddles that were owned by all the Hollywood cowboys.

Touring Rough Point will give you an opportunity to bask in history, share the splendor of the various Duke collections and sample the Gilded Age in one of America’s oldest and finest cities.

Return to Top

A complementary Rough Point shuttle will depart the Newport Gateway/Visitor’s Center at 23 America’s Cup Ave. at 10:00am, 11:00am, 1:00pm and 2:00pm The shuttle will take you directly to Rough Point and back to the Gateway/Visitor’s Center.
Also available are TWO DRIVE ON TOURS A DAY, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, which may be reserved in advance ON-LINE at http://www.newportrestoration.org

A complementary Rough Point shuttle will depart the Newport Gateway/Visitor’s Center at 23 America’s Cup Ave. every twenty minutes from 10:00am to 2:40pm [except at 12 noon and 1pm]. The shuttle will take you directly to Rough Point and back to the Gateway/Visitor’s Center.
As well there will be SIX DRIVE ON TOURS A DAY, Tuesday-Saturday, that can be reserved in advance ON-LINE at http://www.newportrestoration.org


Ticket cost is $25.00 per person. All tickets, except ON-LINE reservations, are available at the Newport Gateway/Visitor’s Center located at 23 America’s Cup Ave. in Newport. For ticket information please call 401.845.9130. For general information about Rough Point, ON-LINE sales, or any other of Newport Restoration Foundation’s properties, please call 401.849.7300.

Handicapped Visitors

Rough Point is fully handicapped accessible. For people with specific handicap needs, access to the site by car is allowed. Handicapped visitors will need to call ahead in order that a staff person can provide them with access to the site. Staff will need five to ten minutes notice which can be done by calling the Foundation office at 401.849.7300 or making a request through a Rough Point shuttle driver or Visitor’s Center ticket agent.

Group Tours

Group tours for up to 28 people may be arranged on any day except Sunday by calling the office at 401.849.7300. Groups are encouraged to visit on Mondays.

Contact Information

Address: Newport Restoration Foundation 51 Touro Street . Newport . Rhode Island 02840
Phone: 401.849.7300
Website: www.newportrestoration.org

Return to Top | Great New England Museums & Historical Sites Home Page

Barnum Pequot Plimouth Sturbridge Herreshoff Rough Point


Stoweflake Resort & Spa

Located in one of America's most sensational, natural paradises, the Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa in Stowe, Vermont offers the ultimate, year-round vacation experience. With its celebrated world-class spa, luxurious accommodations, award-winning restaurants and friendly, attentive staff, the Stoweflake is unrivaled as New England's premier spa/resort destination.

Since 1865, Mountain View has offered visitors a memorable experience. Following a $20 million restoration in 2002, the Mountain View once again welcomes guests in grand style with all the state of the art amenities that today's travelers expect from a Four-Diamond destination resort.


QuickStart Guide

Four Simple Steps to Planning the Perfect New England Getaway or Vacation.

{ Home Page | Grow Your Business on NewEnglandTimes.Com | Contact NewEnglandTimes.Com | About NewEnglandTimes.Com | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service }
NewEnglandTimes.Com, your New England getaway guide to life in New England
All pages on www.newenglandtimes.com © 2003-2014 Jim & Terry Hyde. All rights Reserved.
Return to top