Last weekend I visited a most curious place called Newport, Rhode Island. It isn’t that far from Boston and doesn’t seen that exotic, but in a lot of ways it is.
In the late 19th century, Newport was the playground of the rich. Really, really, really insanely rich people like the Vanderbilts and Astors and other such swells. They built these enormous houses that brought in the best craftsmen from Europe and points beyond. They built massive mansions that can almost be called castles. And they lived in them for eight to ten weeks out of the year. Those were the days.
Then in 1912, the fun stopped. The government imposed income taxes and the houses fell pray to what we all fall pray to in America. Taxes. And death, but that came later. The houses were given to city of Newport for nickels and are now museums.
I’ve visited these houses before and always got the same impression. Wow, these are beautiful places, but what must it have been like to live in a place like that? The halls are enormous, the bedrooms and ballrooms like museums. I guess if you were brought up in that style, you wouldn’t feel uncomfortable, but some part of me kept thinking of my own house, small as it, as possibly more comfortable than one of these places. Sure, it would be nice if the shower actually worked correctly and didn’t scald me all the time, but otherwise, I like my apartment.
I also wonder sometimes if when the people lived there, did they once think that other people, total strangers would one day be traipsing through it.
And also a note. I took these with the camera I call Rick. I left Chumlee at home and just brought little Chumlee with me. Luckily, my father (who is the actual owner of Rick) gave me Rick on the off chance I wanted to photograph the mansions, which are usually super off limits to any kind of photographing. Well, nobody seemed to care, so I snapped away. Nobody seemed to really care, to be honest and I got some really nice shots of the inside of these houses: