The Elms in Bellevue Avenue
The Elms is one of Newport’s several
mansions operated by the Preservation
Society of Newport County since 1962. The
mansion is located along Bellevue Avenue in
Newport, Rhode Island. It was originally
owned by a Philadelphian couple, Mr. and
Mrs. Edward Julius Berwind.
The Berwinds hired Horace Trumbauer to design their summer cottage after the
French chateau d’Asnieres in Asnieres, France which is a community in the
suburbs of Paris.
million project began in 1898 and it was
completed in 1901. The couple commissioned
the Allard and Sons of Paris to design the
interiors of the mansion, which, of course,
were done extravagantly. The Elms also
featured Classical Revival sunken gardens
which were elaborately landscaped around
expensive marble sculptures, pavilions,
fountains, stables and a carriage house and
garage by C.H.Miller and E.W. Bowditch.
|These gardens were planted
during the early 1900s, but they were recently restored to
their originally magnificence.
Berwind was a man of technology, and he was
one of the first in America to have had
electricity installed in his residence.
He also had an electric
ice-maker, which at that time, was considered an extreme
The Elms mansion has three floors. On the first is an
imposing ballroom, a salon, a breakfast room, a dining room,
a conservatory, an impressive library and a marble hallway.
On the second floor are the luxurious bedrooms and a private
sitting room. On the topmost floor are the servants’
When Julius Berwind’s wife Sarah passed away in 1922, he
asked his sister Julia to help in the management of the
household. Fourteen years later, Julius Berwind died, and
Julia had to take over everything. Unlike her brother, Julia
was not into technology, and so there were no significant
improvement in the mansion for the next twenty five years.
In 1961, Julia Berwind also passed away. She left the
mansion to one of her nephews, who was not interested in
governing the forty servants that made up the Elms’ staff.
The bereaved family decided to sell the property to a land
developer who wanted to demolish the Gilded Age mansion.
Fortunately, it was purchased and saved by the Preservation
Society of Newport County. Today, the Elms is open to anyone
interested in learning about the lives of the former
residents and also a little of Newport’s past.
A tour of the Elms includes a visit to the mansion’s
basement, which houses old coal-fired furnaces fed through
tunnels from an adjacent street. Tourists are also brought
up to the tiled roof upon which is an aluminum platform.
People can stand on this platform and safely enjoy the view
of the Elms’ beautiful trees and intricately landscaped
Since 1996, the Elms mansion has been a National Historic
Landmark in Newport.