The Elms

Newport, Rhode Island

Built in 1901 as a summer retreat of Edward Julius Berwind & his wife Herminie.  The house was inspired by an 18th century French Chateau.  The house is huge, gilded and filled with art.  It is the garden that drew me here.  Elm trees were a significant feature in the landscape of this city in the early 1900’s.  The “cottages” of the Vanderbilts, Astors, Doris Duke and other titans of unlimited power and money were only summer places used for 8 weeks during the summer.  The shade from these great trees helped cool the space for parties, croquet and cocktails.

The Elm tree on the lawn is massive and yet barely noticed by most visitors as they focus on the riches inside the house.

Beyond the elm is the sunken Italianate Garden.  Formal, symmetrical  and floral it seems an ornament of the great house.  It is still beautiful and pleasant to see but it seems unlikely it was ever a garden of importance to the original residents.

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