Newport RI

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.

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