I had forgotten the relentless opulence of Bellevue Avenue in Newport, Rhode Island, the so-called ‘cottages’ towering over the street. We drove through the drizzle admiring their oppressive grandeur, many of them still private residences. The question was, which to visit ? The Breakers or the Marble House ? We chose the Isaac Bell Jr House by McKim, Mead and White, built in the early 1880s, just after they had designed the Casino nearer the centre of town. It’s in a wonderful, over-elaborate Arts-and-Crafts style with rich shingled exterior, a bulbous roof based on a French windmill and an interior stripped of most of its furniture, but with elaborate decorative details drawn from historic French interiors, mantelpieces based on designs by E.W. Godwin, a big inglenook, and silk and rattan in the ceilings.