Ochre Court

Newport, Rhode Island
The Ochre Court mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, stands as a magnificent testament to the grandeur and opulence of the Gilded Age.
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Ochre Court: A Gilded Age Masterpiece in Newport, Rhode Island

Ochre Court stands as a magnificent testament to the grandeur and opulence of the Gilded Age. This châteauesque mansion, nestled in the heart of Newport, Rhode Island, has a storied history dating back to the late 19th century. Commissioned by the prominent Goelet family, it was designed by the renowned architect Richard Morris Hunt, who also created the nearby masterpiece, The Breakers. Ochre Court is the second largest mansion in Newport behind only The Breakers.

The Goelet Dynasty and the Gilded Age:

The Goelet family epitomized the American success story, transforming humble 18th-century trade into vast 19th-century investments. Ogden Goelet, the mansion’s original owner, was a banker, real estate magnate, and a competitive yachtsman. The shores of Newport provided the perfect backdrop for his passion for sailing during the Gilded Age. His wife, Mary Wilson Goelet, oversaw the meticulous operation of Ochre Court during the customary eight-week summer season. This endeavor required a substantial staff of twenty-seven house servants, eight coachmen and grooms, and twelve gardeners.

Architectural Grandeur:

Richard Morris Hunt, America’s preeminent architect of the late 19th century, lent his exceptional talent to Ochre Court’s design. The mansion is a masterpiece of the Louis XIII architectural style, taking inspiration from the chateaux of France’s Loire Valley. It boasts high roofs, turrets, towering chimneys, ornate dormers, and a wealth of ornamental details. The interior of Ochre Court is adorned with classical-style ceiling paintings, heraldic symbols, intricately carved emblems, statues, and an abundance of stained glass, creating a rich tapestry of visual delights. It was completed in 1892.

The Legacy of the Goelet Family:

May Goelet, the Goelets’ daughter, married Henry Innes-Ker, 8th Duke of Roxburghe, with her substantial $8 million dowry. The family’s legacy continued with Robert Goelet IV, a businessman with interests in American railroads, hotels, and real estate. In an act of generosity, Robert Goelet gifted Ochre Court to the Sisters of Mercy in 1947, leaving an indelible mark on its history.

From Mansion to University:

Ochre Court played a pivotal role in the establishment of Salve Regina University. In its early years, the entire college operated from within this grand mansion. As the university grew, so did the campus, but Ochre Court remained its heart. Today, it serves as the main administration building of Salve Regina University. The Admissions Office welcomes prospective students and families, while the Office of the President, Business Office, Office of Financial Aid, and other essential departments are housed on the upper floors. The first floor is a hub for cultural events, including concerts, lectures, and special functions.

Visiting Ochre Court:

Visitors can easily explore Ochre Court by taking advantage of the street-side parking spaces along Webster Street, right next to the mansion. Parking is complimentary. A stroll along the renowned Cliff Walk presents an excellent opportunity to admire the mansion’s exterior and lush gardens. If the opportunity arises to venture inside, you’ll be awestruck by the grandeur of Ochre Court. Its 3-story Great Hall, replete with intricate ceiling paintings, stained glass, and majestic fireplaces, provides an insight into the lavish lifestyle of the Goelets during their summers in Newport.

Cinematic and Cultural Influence:

Ochre Court has also made its mark in popular culture. Its exterior served as a backdrop for the movie “True Lies,” portraying a Swiss mansion featured in the opening sequence. The architecture of the fictional Shacklethorne Mansion in the video game “Payday 2” was inspired by the back side of Ochre Court. While these references to Ochre Court illustrate its lasting allure, its most significant recognition came when it was added to the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Bellevue Avenue Historic District. This honor, announced on December 8, 1972, underscores the mansion’s historical and architectural significance. The reference number for the historic district is 72000023, reflecting its importance in preserving America’s architectural heritage.

Location

Address: 16 Ochre Point Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island
Place GPS Coordinates: 41.473772, -71.299121
Parking GPS Coordinates: 41.473772, -71.299121
Parking Notes: There are dozens of street side parking spaces located right next to Ochre Court along Webster Street. Parking is free.

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