Posted by: shrewspeaks | September 9, 2008

Monday Mansion Day

Mrs. Maven and I had received a calling card from The Mrs. Astor, indicating that upon our arrival to Newport, we were immediately placed on the 400 list.  A social achievement indeed expected but none the less thrilling by being formalized.  As such members of  The 400, we were invited to one of The Astor’s evening soirees.  Per custom, we decided to call on The Astor’s Monday afternoon.

We thought it would be horridly untoward to appear and have the chance that our stomachs may emit a growl for hunger, so we thought it best to stop and have a local dish at a little Italian cafe, The Firehouse Pizza.  This bohemian haunt is a converted firehouse as you can see from the doors.

It was a bustle with other tourists and local sets of the artistic persuasion.  A place much more likely to be frequented by the likes of Alva Vanderbilt (that little minx) than of the Astors, but you all know how Mrs. Maven and I are cut of the daring cloth.

After, what I can only characterize as mediocre fare, (you can’t give a Joisey gal anything less than the very best pizza), we headed to The Astors.


Beechwood is known for the simplicity and elegance of design.  Mrs. Maven and I believe The Mrs. Astor says that because she can’t put Beechwood up against the Vanderbuilt’s Breakers which is stunning beyond compare.  However, with the proper perspective Beechwood is lovely.

As we entered, Mrs. Maven took the Vanderbuilt approach and marched right into the main room.  She completely unnerved the front door attendent.  The little fellow scrmbbled to his feet, the clacking of his heeled shoes echoing through the marble entrance while he urgently yelled, “Ma’am, Ma’am!  You must wait.  Ma’am I’ll get the door.”  Mrs. Maven just smiledgraceously as he caught up to her.  But I believe I saw a devilish spark in her eyes as he left us in the ante room.

The Mrs. Astor was unavailble to meet with us, but her son inlaw, somebody Roosevelt took upon himself to show us around Beechwood.

Here is The Lady herself in the background with the roses named after her in the fore.

I must say one of the lovelier rooms, modeled after the bourgeois solons of Paris is this little wedgewood blue sitting room.

Delightfuly airy, don’t you think?

We were met in the ballroom by a very rude man.  I can’t recall his name, Mrs. Maven perhaps you can remember dear what his name was?  All I know is he spoke ill of the impressionist artist movement that I am so fond of.  When I asked him directly on the subject, he spoke some non-sense about the kodak boxes.  An obvious charleton and cad.  Unfortantly, as a result of this distasteful discourse, I happened to not notice the settings on my camera obscura and missed much of the ground floor.

Here is one image of the ballroom that I tried, unsuccessfully, to recover in the darkroom.

Upstairs we were treated to a glimpse of one of The Astor’s daughter’s gowns for this evening.  I must remeber to tell Alva to steer away from sea green tonight.

Finally, we brought through the kitchen…can you belive the audacity!

We walked the grounds down to the cliffwalk behind…

So as we left the Teahouse Folly…we diecided to drop by our old friends the Vanderbuilt’s and have afternoon tea.



  1. What a great post. The writing fits the occasion perfectly. And, as always, the photos transport us to Newport as if we were there.

    Me thinks you had a lot of fun with that fish-eye lens and are hoping Santa is good to you this year!

  2. I think I’m feeling a little dizzy! But the fisheye totally works on the picture with the car.

    Hey, we are getting closer to the arrival of the MA contingent, including the storied shutter sh!thead.

  3. Love, love, love the fisheye photo of the car and mansion. Awesome.

  4. Sorry…I’ve had little chance to respond lately, but I wanted you to know how much I’ve been enjoying all these photos and stories!!! This set in particular was wonderful. I agree that the fisheye is very cool when used the way you have used it. That car/mansion is also my favorite! Can you imagine living in any of these mansions? I think my entire house would fit in the foyer. Pathetic. 😉

  5. I love that I can just about imagine your days at Newport with these posts and photos.

    My faves: the first shot of the cafe entrance (but next time, please let me make the pizza for you), the car with the mansion, and the kitchen shot.

    You are making me really, really regret ever losing my fish-eye lens from way back.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: