Beechwood (Astor mansion)
|Town or city||Newport, Rhode Island|
Daniel Parrish (original owner)
|Size||16,400 ft² (1,500 m²)|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||McKim, Mead & White (renovations)|
Built in 1851 for New York merchant Daniel Parrish by architects Andrew Jackson Downing and Calvert Vaux, it later became the summer estate of the Astor family. Before moving in, Mrs. Astor hired architect Richard Morris Hunt to do many renovations including the addition of a ballroom to fit the famous "Four Hundred". Beechwood became the show place for many of Mrs. Astor's dinner parties. Beechwood also boasts a library, dining room and a music room with wallpaper imported from Paris. When Mrs. Astor died she left it to her son John Jacob Astor IV, who married his second wife Madeleine in its ballroom. After John's death on the Titanic in 1912, it passed to his widow Madeleine, who turned the entire third floor into her own personal walk-in closet. After she died it was turned into Newport's only living history museum and featured actors portraying the daily lives of those who inhabited, ran, and cared for the estate. While run as a tourist attraction, the estate was marketed as Astors' Beechwood Mansion.
During off-season months (February to May), servants of the Astor family provided tours of the estate as if they were still living in 1891. Visitors were considered to be "applicants" for a summer job on Mrs. Astor's staff, and "applied" for any job they wished. Positions included: gardener, footman, butler, chef, housemaid, and many others. During the summer months while the Astor family was living in the mansion, Astor family members gave tours to guests. Everyone living and working in the mansion acted as though it was 1891 and acted in character throughout the tour.
The tour included two sides of the house: first, the family's side where the Astors lived, and second, the servants' side, which included kitchens and servants quarters, as well as an area for the children to live. Children of the family lived with the servants until the age of 17, when they were considered adults and fully prepared for social functions. Children of the family were quickly wed at the age of 18, or as soon as possible after reaching 18.
In January 2010 the Beechwood Theatre Company was reorganized under the umbrella of the 501c3 non-profit Beechwood Foundation as the Marley Bridges Theatre Company, and the property was sold for $10.5 million to Oracle Corporation founder Larry Ellison. Ellison, who was in Newport during the summer of 2009 for training with his BMW/Oracle Racing, is linked to a deed filed at City Hall that documents the $10.5 million sale of the 39-room estate.
As of 2012, Ellison plans to convert the mansion's first floor into Beechwood Art Museum, displaying his collection of 18th and 19th century art. 
- [dead link]
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