The fourth house museum stop for our Newport, RI trip was The Elms. Get ready for some beautiful gardens and general splendor!
4. The Elms
The Elms was our next stop, and it did not disappoint. Welcome to the foyer!
I really liked the scheme of the house: white, gold, marble, and black iron. The inspiration was the 18th Century Chateau d’Asnieres in France. Sarah and Edward Julius Berwind, of the coal fortune, built The Elms in 1901 so that they could host on a larger scale.
The Elms is famous for its gardens, so let’s have a look at those first:
I really loved that bench, and there were fountains, pavilions, and statues galore.
There was what I call a “sunroom” to bring the outside indoors. This included possibly the word’s plushest lawnchair.
The inside was equally lovely. Here are a few of the rooms, which definitely give you the impression of French grandeur (except for the green library, which was more homey). Look at those gorgeous ceiling medallions!
Did you spot both pianos?
I seemed to have collected pictures of a lot of different bedrooms, so I’m thinking there may have been more rooms available for viewing at the house than at the other houses. Here are a few of the bedrooms. (Never mind my sister gazing dreamily at that fainting couch.)
Oddly enough, I remember the portraits acquired by this house the most. This portrait of Elizabeth Wharton Drexel Dahlgren Lehr is quite famous. My sister bought a jewelry dish with this portrait on it while we were in Newport. Elizabeth’s first husband was the son of the famous Admiral Dahlgren (who, as a side note, is discussed by Shannon and her father in Northern Fire!) Her first husband died young. I remember her sad story of her second husband telling her on their wedding night that he had only married her for her money. (Note, this is not the owner of the house. I can’t remember why her portrait is at The Elms – maybe she is a relative?)
Another notable portrait at the house is that of Maria Cosway, an Englishwoman who had, shall we say, a more than casual acquaintance with Thomas Jefferson while he was Minister to Paris. This portrait was painted by Cosway’s husband. I’m not sure how the Elms acquired this original either. Here it is:
Does anyone remember how the Elms acquired either of these fascinating paintings? Comment below if you do!
Stop back by next week for our final mansion. I’ll also talk about some of the other stuff (including a lot of eating) that we did in Newport!
Photo of Maria Cosway: The Preservation Society of Newport County, https://www.newportmansions.org/learn/collections/fine-and-decorative-arts/paintings.
All other photos: Tara Cowan or Hannah Cowan Jones