Chateau-sur-Mer, Newport, Rhode Island.
|Location||424 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island|
|Area||17 acres (69,000 m2)|
|Architectural style||Mid 19th Century Revival|
|NRHP Reference #||68000002|
|Added to NRHP||November 8, 1968|
|Designated NHL||February 17, 2006|
Chateau-sur-Mer is the first of the grand Bellevue Avenue mansions of the Gilded Age mansions in Newport, Rhode Island. It is now open to the public as a museum. Chateau-sur-Mer's grand scale and lavish parties ushered in the Gilded Age of Newport, as it was the most palatial residence in Newport until the Vanderbilt houses in the 1890s.
Chateau-sur-Mer was completed in 1852 as a French villa for William Shepard Wetmore, a merchant in the China trade, who was born on January 26, 1801, in St. Albans, Vermont. The builder was Seth Bradford; the structure is a landmark of Victorian architecture, furniture, wallpapers, ceramics and stenciling. Mr. Wetmore died on June 16, 1862, at Chateau-sur-Mer, leaving the bulk of his fortune to his son, George Peabody Wetmore. George later married Edith Keteltas in 1869. During the 1870s, the Wetmores departed on an extended trip to Europe, leaving architect Richard Morris Hunt to remodel and redecorate the house in the Second Empire style. As a result, Chateau-sur-Mer displays most of the major design trends of the last half of the 19th century. The house is constructed of Fall River Granite.
Unlike most of the "cottages" built in Newport during this period, Chateau-sur-Mer was one of the few built as a year round residence. This was because the Wetmores were a New England family who made Newport their home. George was very active in Rhode Island politics during the late 19th century. A lifelong Republican, Wetmore was a member of the Electoral College of 1880 and again in 1884. In 1885 Wetmore was elected Governor of Rhode Island, and went on the win re-election in 1886, but was defeated in an attempt for a third term in 1887. In 1894, the Rhode Island General Assembly elected Wetmore to the United States Senate, where Wetmore remained until 1913. In the Senate, Wetmore served on the Naval Affairs Committee and the Appropriations Committee.
In March 2006, Kathleen Styger and Michelle Styger, as interns for the Preservation Society of Newport County, conducted extensive research for descriptions on the interior of the Chateau-sur-Mer estate as part of the National Historic Landmark nomination submitted to the Department of the Interior resulting in recognition as a National Historic Landmark.
The former carriage house and stables for the Chateau-Sur-Mer estate are owned by Salve Regina University and are currently being renovated as a center for visual art and cultural and historic preservation known as Wetmore Hall.
Two HABS photos and one other older photo are available.
- Hopf, John T. (1976). The Complete Book of Newport Mansions.
- Paul L. Veeder, II, "The Outbuildings and Grounds of Chateau-sur-Mer", The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol. 29, No. 4 (Dec., 1970), pages 307–317.
- John R. Tschirch, James Garman, Patty Henry, and Beth L. Savage (April 29, 2005). PDF (32 KB). National Park Service.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23.
- "Chateau-sur-Mer". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-02-21.
- 2003 Herald News Article on Fall River Granite
- SALVEtoday "Wetmore Receives National Historic Landmark Designation" 16-Mar-06
- The photo set to accompany the NRHP document for Bellevue Avenue Historic District, PDF (32 KB) includes two photos of unrelated Bellevue mansion in state of Georgia and three photos of Chateau-sur-Mer, one of the Bellevue Avenue mansions in Rhode Island. This photo set is filed under reference number 72000023 of the Bellevue Avenue Historic District.
- The Preservation Society of Newport County - Chateau-sur-Mer main page
- The Preservation Society of Newport County - Preserving Chateau-sur-Mer
- Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) No. RI-313, "Chateau-sur-Mer, Bellevue Avenue, Newport, Newport County, RI", 34 photos, 12 measured drawings, 17 data pages, 2 photo caption pages