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Edgewater

Newport, Rhode Island

Built 1870, for Joseph Frederic Kernochan (1842-1929) and Mary Stuart Whitney (1849-1922). Their famously ornate Italianate villa with French Second Empire mansard roof was a wedding present from Kernochan's brother, James Powell Kernochan (1831-1897), the former Governor of the Metropolitan Club who lived at Seaview. In 1888, Edgewater was demolished to make way for Ochre Court.
The Kernochan brothers grew up in the lap of luxury at their father's mansion in New York, and though both undertook civic duties and closely managed their estates, neither of them pursued conventional careers. When J. Frederic Kernochan married Mary in 1869, his elder brother purchased a plot of land for them at Newport and immediately instructed George Champlin Mason (1820-1894) - architect of By-the-Sea among others - to build “one of the finest villas on Ochre Point" for the newly-weds.

The land on which their villa was built measured 721 by 121 feet and was purchased from William Beach Lawrence (1800-1881), Governor of Rhode Island. The site chosen for the villa was literally on the Cliff Walk overlooking the ocean, which led to the 18,000 square foot mansion being named Edgewater on its completion the following year. 

It was constructed with 65,000 stones, using local fieldstone with granite trimmings. The first floor with wraparound porch was built entirely of stone whereas the second floor was faced with diamond-shaped tiles and the French mansard roof with iron railings was made of black slate. The interior was designed with hardwood furnishings throughout and included a wide staircase with large newels and balustrades, while the walls were layered in polychrome wooden shingling.

In 1881, the Kernochans sold Edgewater to Ogden Goelet (1851-1897) for $90,000. Goelet and his family summered there for the next six years until he announced that he would be pulling it down in order to build the now famous château that stands in its place today, Ochre Court.

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