Newport is primarily known today for its spectacular summer cottages such as The Breakers, The Elms, Marble House, Rosecliff, and others from America’s Gilded Age, which are now operated as museums by The Preservation Society of Newport County. But Newport also contains another unique landmark; the Newport Casino was commissioned in 1879 as a private club for Newport’s wealthy summer residents. The club opened in 1880 and the Real Tennis Club and Casino Theatre were completed the following year. “Real tennis” refers to the original game played on an inside court before “lawn tennis” on an outdoor court became popular in the 20th century. the 1950s, the club was struggling financially until wealthy Newport summer residents Jimmy and Cathy Van Alen purchased the property and opened the Tennis Hall of Fame in the Casino in 1954. The museum together with continued tennis matches provided the financial stability needed to save the original building and grounds. In 1984, the International Tennis Association recognized the museum as the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Just up the street from the tennis club can be found a rare “summer cottage” for sale on the open market. The National Trust for Historic Preservation has developed a new approach to ensure that historic homes that are available for sale—no matter how rarely it happens—reach an appropriate audience. Hence, “Preservation Personals”—this entry for an 1877 stick style house at 328 Bellevue House., situated between and across the street from The Elms and the Isaac Bell House. (The screen grab above is of Google Map’s street view of 3218 Bellevue House, Newport, Rhode Island).
Preservation Personals: Own a Piece of the Gilded Age in Newport
By Meghan White
National Trust for Historic Preservation
November 17, 2017