Vernon Court

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Vernon Court
Vernon Court, West Facade, Newport RI.jpg
Front elevation from Bellevue Avenue in 2008
General information
Architectural style French classical
Town or city Newport, Rhode Island
Country United States
Construction started 1900
Completed 1901
Client Anna Van Nest Gambrill
Design and construction
Architect Carrère and Hastings

Vernon Court is an American Renaissance mansion designed by architects Carrère and Hastings. It is located at 492 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island, on the Atlantic coast of the United States. The design is loosely based on that of an 18th-century French mansion, Château d'Haroué.[1]

History[edit]

Vernon Court was constructed in 1900 to be used as a summer cottage for the widow of Richard Augustine Gambrill, a New York lawyer, Anna Van Nest Gambrill (1865–1927). In addition to her husband's fortune, Anna Gambrill had inherited a substantial sum from her father, Alexander T. Van Nest, a railroad baron. Gambrill's sister, Jane and brother-in-law, Giraud Foster, had commissioned Carrère and Hastings a year earlier to design her estate near Lenox, Massachusetts, Bellefontaine (one of the Berkshire Cottages).[2]

Although Carrère and Hastings typically considered the grounds and the architecture together as an ensemble, Gambrill hired her florists, the firm of Wadley & Smythe, as landscape architects for the property. They based their design for the primary garden loosely on the Pond Garden at Hampton Court Palace[3] In 1904, it was considered one of "the ten most beautiful mansions in America."[4]

The property remained in the Gambrill family until 1956, when it was auctioned. From 1963 until its closing in 1972, it served as the administration building for Vernon Court Junior College, an all-girls school. Over the next two and a half decades it passed through several different owners.

Today[edit]

In 1998, Vernon Court was acquired by Laurence and Judy Cutler, founders of the National Museum of American Illustration.[5] The mansion currently houses the museum's collections of American illustration; as the Gilded Age architecture is contemporaneous with the "Golden Age of American Illustration" theme on which the collection focuses. The building is a significant contributing property to the National Register of Historic Places listed Bellevue Avenue Historic District[6] that was added to the Register on December 8, 1972.[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Château d'Haroué by Germain Boffrand is often cited as an inspiration for Carrère & Hastings' plans for Vernon Court. Resemblances are limited to the prominent slate roof à la française with small dormers, prominent chimneys and the segmental arch-headed fenestration.
  2. ^ Ossman, Laurie; Ewing, Heather (2011). Carrère and Hastings, The Masterworks. Rizzoli USA. ISBN 9780847835645.
  3. ^ Gardens at Vernon Court Archived May 11, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Berman, Ann E. "Newport News: An Illustration Museum Debuts in Rhode Island." Architectural Digest, Dec. 1999: 76+. Print.
  5. ^ National Museum of American Illustration official site
  6. ^ "NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES -INVENTORY-- NOMINATION FORM" (PDF). preservation.ri.gov. NRHP. Retrieved 15 February 2016. 
  7. ^ National Park Service (January 23, 2007). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.