Visiting Fairholme, Newport, Rhode Island

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Nick Churton of Mayfair International Realty takes a look at Fairholme, one of the very fine homes being marketed through broker, Lila Delman Real Estate.

Where does one begin when describing a visit to Fairholme? Where does one begin with such an iconic house with a dazzling social history, imposing and distinctive elevations, breathtaking location, and faultless interior?  Well, Jack Kennedy used to swim in the pool and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor often partied here.  How’s that for starters?

Fairholme isn’t as large as its close neighbour, The Breakers – one of the world’s great superhomes.  But in many ways Fairholme may be all the better for that, especially in this day and age. This is a grand house certainly, but on a more manageable scale.

It may be a house that does not overwhelm, but it does greatly impress. Its architecture leans towards the Tudor and its views lean towards the Atlantic.  Everything about it is impressive, from the stately elevations, the comfortable and stylish reception rooms, the elegant and spacious bedroom suites and the exceptional ocean view to the rear.

Just as impressive are the 4.3 acres of Gilded Age coastline estate with picturesque six-bedroom carriage house, three interconnected greenhouses, and a sybaritic swimming pool with pavilion and outdoor living area overlooking the Atlantic.

In the early years the house was the summer home to some of the best of Philadelphia society.  Indeed, when I visited, if Dexter Haven had popped over from next door or Tracy Lord emerged from the pool I don’t think I would have been too surprised.

For good or ill those days have gone and the world now is a different place.  But today the old residents with names like Vanderbilt, Astor, Van Buren and Belmont are steadily being replaced by a fresh intake of billionaires.  It would be churlish to name names but the new list is richly impressive.

It is only a personal view, but while there may be plenty of houses in the US with higher price tags, few have the pedigree of Fairholme.  Also, I have the impression that Newport’s star is very much on the rise again. Other areas like the Hamptons have become highly fashionable over the past few years.  But it would be difficult to find another place which has the history, tradition, fame, name and cachet of this extraordinary Rhode Island town.  In Newport one walks with giants.

Nick Churton


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