The Flower Cottage is a pretty nosegay of a house among the larger bouquets that are the mansions of Bellevue Avenue in Newport, Rhode Island. These others are the big blooms of private houses in one of the finest, if not the finest, address in the US. In the past, owners of houses in this magnificent thoroughfare have included Gilded Age billionaires with names like Vanderbilt. Today these have been replaced by Silicon Age billionaires with names like Ellison.
And in amongst all this splendour is The Flower Cottage – as marvellous in its own way, and as historic, as any of its much larger neighbours. Originally this cottage was the headquarters of the Newport Botanical Society – they take botanical matters seriously in Newport. Later, the cottage was a florist’s shop. Today the name connects the house with its fragrant past.
The great thing for me, besides the charm of the cottage, is the location. The Flower Cottage sits on the corner of Bellevue and Leroy Avenues. It is a fortunate spot. The better elevation is on Bellevue Avenue but the front door is round the corner on Leroy – giving the property certain tax advantages. I have long held that it is better to have a smaller house in the best street rather than a larger house in a lesser location. That way the other houses lift the value of one’s own. So, if you are not engaging in a mine’s-bigger-than-yours competition, or are so wealthy that you have more money than the US Treasury, then owning The Flower Cottage is just about as good as it gets.
I recommend that instead of joining the public queues to visit the Gilded Age mansions in Bellevue Avenue, you call Lila Delman and arrange a private view of The Flower Cottage. It won’t take as long to look around as the others but then you won’t have to be as rich as a Vanderbilt to join a very exclusive club indeed.