207 Ruggles Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island
This house is best associated with...
Denise (Carey) Bettencourt
Mrs Denise Anne Marie (Carey) Bettencourt, Architect, of Newport, Rhode Island
"...For the Wife who had been the Perfect Helpmate"
The Bradleys were friends with the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Maud Howe Elliott who published her memories of America's most fabled resort, This Was My Newport . In reference to Bradley and the beginnings of Seaview Terrace she wrote: "No trouble, no expense was too great to make a home for the wife who had been the perfect helpmate".
In 1922, Bradley purchased Seaview from the children of James Powell Kernochan (1831-1897). By the following year he had instructed Howard Greenley - the same architect he had used in Washington D.C. for Aladdin's Palace - to incorporate the existing mansion (that would form the east wing) into a much larger new one inspired by the 16th century Château de Chenonceau. The chateau created by Greenley is built of limestone and except for its trim is covered in chalk-white stucco in the Norman style, giving it a rare aged appearance. The Bradleys named their new home "Seaview Terrace" and building costs ran to a reputed $2 million including the 14-acres of landscaped gardens viewed from wide balustraded terraces on varying levels. In 1925, the chateau contained 17-rooms on the first floor, 25 on the second, and 12 on the third, covering in all 39,648-square feet.
The Largest - Award-Winning - House Relocation in American History?
The Bradleys were already well-known for hosting lavish parties, so even though Greeneley was still working on the house in 1925, that didn't stop them from laying on a suitably flamboyant affair to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary - which also coupled as an early housewarming. Once the empty bottles and confetti had been swept up, Greenley began the monumental task of dismantling period rooms from France and Aladdin's Palace (again!) to have them transported and refitted here. According to legend, this was one of the largest house relocations recorded in America. For his efforts, the American League of Architects awarded Greenley the President's Medal in 1928.
Turrets, Spyholes, and Trapdoors
The Whispering Gallery & 16th Century Stained Glass Windows
The stained-glass windows on display were all made in 16th Century Europe: They came from Holland; the Carmelite Church at Boppard in Germany; and, one named The Flagellation from the early-Renaissance period was originally designed for Milan Cathedral in Italy. This last piece is thought to have been made by the great Corrado Mochis (1525-1569) of Colonia and was part of a series portraying the Passion of Christ.
Period Rooms and Furnishings
Other period rooms throughout the house featured English wood panelling and Italian plaster ceilings. Both the Bradleys were passionate collectors of antiques and their sizeable collection included European art and objets d'art dating from the Middle Ages as well as contemporary American pieces. The house was filled with statues, Chippendale chairs, paintings, Chinese porcelain, Gobelin tapestries, and one particular tapestry woven by the Greniers in the late 1400s depicting a scene from "The Great History of Troy". Aside from the reception rooms, its vaulted flag-stoned halls followed a distinctly medieval theme with bearskin rugs, hunting trophies, great chests from the Renaissance period, wrought-iron torch holders, elaborate hanging lamps, Medieval Italian lanterns, Persian tiles, and an array of arms and armor that would have made William Randolph Hearst envious.
Dark Shadows Overhead...
In January, 1930, Bradley transferred ownership of Seaview to his only daughter, Julie (1880-1948), but their run of bad luck was not over and just two months later, her husband (the Rt. Rev. Herbert Shipman, Episcopal Bishop of New York) "died suddenly". Bradley then bought a 20-room apartment for their broken hearts in New York though they still continued to come to Seaview together in the summer. Bradley died in London in 1935 and Julie summered here up until 1941 after hosting a ball for 800-people that August to raise money for the British war effort. In 1943, she married Naval Captain John Charles Fremont III but she died just five years later - the last of the Bradley line.
Divide, Fall, & War
Julie Shipman stayed in New York while the auction took place. Having five days to accept or reject the offer, to the surprise of all, she turned it down after having discovered the identity of the purchaser who was reputed to be a well-known gambler. But, just seven months later in June, 1942, Julie neglected to pay her property tax bill of $9,945 and Seaview was seized by the tax department and put up for auction, again. Newport being an important naval base during the war, Seaview was acquired for use as an officer's mess, but it continued to fall into disrepair and very quickly became a burden to the city.
Mrs Emerson's Burnham-by-the-Sea... and Collinwood Mansion
In 1950, Seaview became Burnham's sister summer boarding school and was renamed "Burnham-by-the-Sea," while during the winter it was run as the Newport School for Girls. From 1966 to 1971, it became a familiar sight on TV sets across America when it was chosen to portray the fictional "Collinwood Mansion" in ABC's hugely successful "vampire soap-opera" Dark Shadows. Despite its new found fame, the mansion was still expensive to retain and by the early 1970s the Emerson family had placed it back on the market.
The Carey Mansion... and Joanna
The Careys began renovating Seaview and commissioned Donald Tinney - past owner of Belcourt Castle - to restore the stained glass windows in the Solarium, Chapel, and Great Hall. But still looking to make money from the house, they soon after managed to secure a lease with Salve Regina University who took on the mansion, stables, and 16-room gate lodge, renaming the main house "Carey Mansion". From 1977 through to the 1980s, the mansion was used annually to accommodate the American team for The Americas Cup.
In 2009, the university terminated its lease with the Careys and today Seaview Terrace and its 7-acres is once again a private residence, occupied by their daughter, Mrs Denise Anne (Carey) Bettencourt. In 2013, it featured in the reality mini-series for paranormal enthusiasts, Stranded, which aired on Syfy. Today, it plays host to the Newport Tennis and Fitness Club, but as a private home, it remains strictly off-limits to the public.
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