Design & Décor, Living with Style, The Newport Diary


Newport’s Clarendon Court

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Clarendon Court (1904) represents everything the words elegant, classical and sublime bring to mind. In this important Newport residence, there is the added distinction of a noted Gilded Age architect, Horace Trumbauer, interpreting a renowned 18th century Scottish architect’s (Colen Campbell) drawings that would otherwise have been relegated to the history books.

Photo Credit: Vibrant Optics for Private Newport

Other than removing the cupolas over the wings either side of the central block, Trumbauer reproduced a perfect copy. Interestingly, this excellent example of English neo-classicism in smooth sandstone was actually closer in style to a late 17th century mansion with its “urn-embellished balustrade.” The home is encompassed by a high stone wall with beautiful gilded iron gates that open to a cobblestone courtyard and entry to the residence.

Photo Credit: Vibrant Optics for Private Newport

Fortuitously, neither the interiors or handsome facade have been altered. Its loggia, and matching rear wings at the back of the house (feature image at top) were all later additions, bringing the house size to 11,579 square feet and twenty rooms.

As well, the 7.5 acres and landscape are still as the property was created in 1904, with sweeping views overlooking the ocean and Cliff Walk.

As a neighbor, I’m still trying to catch my breath at the news of Clarendon Court’s selling price — $30 million — paid last week. Yet another record-breaking number in this current real estate market. So I’m compelled to cross my fingers that Newport’s history and architectural heritage will bring out the inner preservationist in our town’s new homeowners. We must not underestimate the role of stewardship in owning one of these significant historic properties. As was demonstrated by its history of over 8 owners, Clarendon Court (center), along with its neighbors, Miramar and Champ Soleil, are among the very few Gilded Age mansions in Newport to have remained as private homes (Miramar is two homes away in the far left edge of the image).

While Clarendon Court’s histoire included a sad chapter, the majority of the names-of-their-day society figures who owned the home reflect the Newport captured in High Society (1956). Filmed in Newport and starring Grace Kelly (her last film), Frank Sinatra, and Bing Crosby, Clarendon Court’s interiors served as one of the movie’s sets. Entered via mahogany doors into a marble foyer with a graceful sweeping staircase…

the principal interior features of the house survive intact: 18th century fireplaces, marble floors and arched French windows that open onto the loggia.

But the room in the house that I truly covet is this trellis-embellished beauty overlooking the pool.

The outbuildings include the 10,000 square foot brick carriage house (with ample garage space for a car collection) and three separate guest quarters.

A charming brick-walled garden, with English sensibilities, is at the end of the carriage house.

And when one is talking about this grand home, I can’t resist showing it’s romantic side, in the snow…

Photo Credit: Vibrant Optics for Private Newport

and at night. Aaaah, Newport, how I love it.


All images (unless otherwise noted) courtesy of Gustave White Sotheby’s International Reality

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Bettie Bearden Pardee

About Bettie Bearden Pardee

Author of Private Newport and Living Newport, garden furniture designer (The Parterre Bench), national lecturer, and entertaining expert. An honoree for the second year on "The Salonniere 100 America's Best Party Hosts", she was also the host and creative producer of "The Presidential Palate: Entertaining at the White House".

12 thoughts on “Newport’s Clarendon Court

  1. I thought due to the beauty and house preservation in the home town you buy it in NO changes are to be made Those homes are my favorites. I belong to a couple of societies to preserve such rare gems. Such elegance and this country doesn’t want to preserve anything anymore. So sad

    1. This part of Newport is under the jurisdiction of the “Historic District Commission,” but I was referring more to a spirit of place and honoring Newport’s architectural heritage. xB

  2. Sunny and Claus were excellent care takers of the home that helped preserve the integrity of the property. And for those of us who knew Claus, there is far more to the story than was ever reported. Claus was not the villain he was portrayed to be in the press. Just being fair minded to give credit where it’s due.

  3. Hello Bettie
    The photographs you present of the grounds and interior are excellent. Only once, maybe 10 years ago I had a project on-site.
    Seeing all Clarendon Court has to offer is Special.
    Edward T King

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