|After renting it for a year, he
fell in love with the Rough Point mansion and he bought the
property from the Vanderbilts in 1906.
Unfortunately, he died four
years later. His wife, Nancy Leeds took over, and she hired
John Russell Pope to improve portions of the home’s
During 1922, James Buchanan Duke and his second wife
Nanaline bought the house from the Leeds family. Duke was
heavily involved in the electric power and tobacco industry,
and he is also a benefactor of the Duke University. The
couple commissioned White Allom to renovate the house and to
make the interiors less dark and more livable. In 1925, Duke
passed away and his estate was left to his only child who
was twelve year old Doris Duke.
In 1962, Doris began refurnishing the mansion. She bought
pieces of art and antiques to complement the existing set of
family heirlooms. The collection of furniture and décor in
the mansion grew as Doris traveled and continued buying art
pieces and antique furniture for Rough Point. Doris spent a
considerable fortune on paintings by Gainsborough, Renoir
and Van Dyck.
Unlike many of the other mansion in Newport which have not
been lived in by members of the elite society for as long as
sixty years, Rough Point was home to a socialite, in the
person of Doris Duke, until the 1990s. Because of this, the
mansion attained that inviting lived-in appeal that many
tourists enjoy. This contrasts to the stiff and very formal
ambiance of the other summer cottages in Newport, Rhode
In 1993, Doris Duke passed away. For a couple of years, the
mansion was closed as litigation processes took place.
During the year 2000, the house was opened to the public. It
was acquired by the Newport Restoration Foundation, which
now operates the Rough Point mansion as a museum..