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The Astors' Beachwood Mansion
It's not an exaggeration to say that it was the Astor family that put Newport on the map back in the 1850s, when the newly married Caroline Astor insisted on being called "The Mrs. Astor" by friends and family alike. It was The Mrs. who dreamed up the famous "400," her list of the best families in the country, and it was at Beechwood that The Mrs. and her crew partied so vigorously. The 19,000-square-foot Italianate mansion, with 15 bedrooms and a 37-by-57-foot Beaux Arts ballroom, boasts three kitchens, 10 fireplaces and 39 rooms in total with 20-foot ceilings throughout. Plus, the property is beautifully cited on five acres overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Despite these awesome attributes, Beechwood fell into disrepair after the Astor family gave it up in the 1940s. Venture capitalist Robert Milligan bought it for a million bucks in the 1970s and opened it to the public for dinner theater, murder mysteries and social events. It's now listed with Melanie Delman of Lila Delman Real Estate in Newport (401-284-4820).
Built in 1891 by Richard Morris Hunt with grounds designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, this mansion of granite, brownstone and shingle sits on five acres at the highest point on Ocean Avenue, a perch that commands water views out of every window. Beautifully restored, the home offers eight bedrooms (plus guest and staff quarters), 13 bathrooms, a theater, billiard room, magnificent library, a wine cellar and 15 fireplaces. Its current owners, Dr. David Keefe and his wife, Candy, reportedly bought the masterpiece in 1999 when it was at risk of being demolished: It was boarded up, overgrown with vines and unoccupied for decades. The Keefes also own Bois Dore, a chateau-style home on Bellevue Avenue. Wrentham House is listed with Melanie Delman of Lila Delman Real Estate in Newport (401-284-4820).