Southside

Narragansett Avenue & Ochre Point Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island

Completed in 1884, for Robert Goelet III (1841-1899) and his wife, Harriet Louise Warren (1854-1912). Robert was the brother of Ogden Goelet who a few years later built Ochre Court, one of Newport's most iconic chateaux, adjacent to Southside. Robert's house is situated on the Cliff Walk and costing some $300,000 it was the largest and most elaborate of McKim, Mead & White's new "rustic cottages". While Goelet and its architects referred to the house as "Southside," his daughter-in-law, Anne, later renamed it "Ochre Point" as she quipped the house was not on the south side of anything. Nonetheless, architectural historians refer to the house by its original name....

This house is best associated with...

Robert Goelet

Robert Goelet III, of 591 Fifth Avenue, New York City

1841-1899

Harriette (Warren) Goelet

Mrs Harriet Louise (Warren) Goelet

1854-1912

Robert Walton Goelet

"Bertie" Goelet, of Chateau de Sandricourt

1880-1941

Anne Marie Guestier

Mrs Anne-Marie (Guestier) Goelet

1899-1988

Robert Guestier Goelet

"Bobby" Goelet, President of the New-York Historical Society

1923-2019

It was rare back then to see a shingle style house of such size (150-feet long by 50-feet deep) and internal opulence, and the critic Mariana Van Rensselaer thought it a mistake: "I think it is out of keeping both with the design and the interior". Nonetheless, today some historians regard Southside as, "a monument of the shingle style". Designed by Stanford White, the draftsman on the project was a young Cass Gilbert, the man behind New York's Woolworth Building and a future President of the American Association of Architects.

The house purposefully presented two fronts: a formal side facing the street, and a less formal side overlooking the ocean. On first glance, it can present the image of a simple, seaside home, but its scale and grandeur is immediately apparent on entering the oak-panelled hall draped in tapestries, "reminiscent of the manor halls of late Medieval England". The hall measures 44-feet long, 30-feet wide and reaches up 24-feet. The fireplace is large enough for a man to stand in and looking up, the gallery on the second floor is supported by balustrades, columns and arches with a projecting balcony.

The 7.5-acre plot of land on the southeast corner of Narragansett Avenue and Ochre Point Avenue cost Goelet $100,000 and the price of constructing the house - which took two years - came to $83,488. These numbers did not include the interior design nor the landscaping of the gardens which are thought to have cost a further $100,000. The Goelet's were survived by just one son, Bertie Goelet (1880-1941), who retained the house but spent more time in France than America. Nevertheless, Southside is one of the very few Gilded Age estates that - as of 2012 - is still owned by the same (Goelet) family.

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Contributed by Mark Meredith on 03/04/2020 and last updated on 23/08/2021.
Main Image Courtesy of DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University; American Country Houses of the Gilded Age: (Sheldon's "Artistic Country-Seats"), by A. Lewis, 2013; The Opulent Interiors of the Gilded Age (2016), by Arnold Lewis, James Turner, Steven McQuillin; Triumvirate: McKim, Mead & White: Art, Architecture, Scandal, and Class in America's Gilded Age (2010), by Mosette Broderick

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