This Beautiful $27M Mansion Built By a Titanic Survivor Has a Tragic History
Explore the breathtaking architecture of the Miramar estate in Rhode Island, a neo-classical beauty built in 1915 by a notable Titanic survivor as a memorial to her husband and eldest son, who both perished in the tragedy.
Recently sold for an eye-watering price, the palatial property has an intriguing history of sorrow and hope. Step inside and discover its secrets for yourself.
A Magnificent Mansion: Horace Trumbauer's Masterpiece in Newport
In the early 1900s, Philadelphia tycoon George Dunton Widener commissioned the legendary Gilded Age architect Horace Trumbauer to craft a magnificent summer residence in Newport, Rhode Island. Newport was the playground for the upper echelons of American society, and Widener wanted a luxurious home that would befit his social standing.
Trumbauer certainly delivered, creating a palatial estate that was the envy of the wealthy vacationers. From the grand entrance to the sprawling gardens, this masterpiece was truly a sight to behold. Widener’s family could now enjoy the beauty of Newport in the grandeur of their exquisite home.
Architectural Masterpiece: Trumbauer's Legacy
His unique architectural style was at the heart of the success of renowned architect Frank Trumbauer. In the late 1890s, he was hired by George Dunton Widener’s entrepreneurial father to design the magnificent 110-bedroom estate called Lynnewood Hall. Completed in 1900, it was a testament to Trumbauer’s skill and artistry, becoming one of Newport’s grandest and most sought-after summer retreats.
Unfortunately, Widener senior’s fateful investment in the parent company of White Star Line – the firm that would later build the Titanic – changed their lives forever. Trumbauer’s legacy, however, still shines through in Lynnewood Hall.
George Dunton Widener and Eleanor Elkins: A Tale of Lavish Vacation Homes
When ambitious tycoon George Dunton Widener and his devoted wife Eleanor Elkins decided they wanted an extravagant vacation home, they knew just who to turn to. For years the couple and renowned architect Horace Trumbauer worked diligently to bring their dream ‘cottage’ to life.
In 1910, the trio posed for a picture, marking the beginning of a journey that would take George and Eleanor to France in search of luxurious furnishings for the manse and a chef for George’s new Ritz-Carlton hotel in Philadelphia. Together, the couple created a legacy of opulence that stands to this day.
Eleanor Elkins: A Courageous Philanthropist with Refined Tastes
Eleanor Elkins was born into a life of luxury, being a scion of the super-rich Elkins family. Her husband’s wealth gave her the financial freedom to pursue her refined tastes. But the heiress was more than just a wealthy socialite – she was a brave and determined woman.
Despite the challenges she faced, Eleanor showed great courage. She was also incredibly generous, donating millions of dollars to charitable causes. With her wealth and philanthropic spirit, Eleanor Elkins was a true inspiration to us all.
Luxury Voyage of the Widener Family
The Widener family embarked on a journey of a lifetime as they set off on a European holiday in the spring of 1912. Accompanied by their valet, lady’s maid and eldest son, Harry, the family’s goal was to visit London and buy rare first editions for Harry’s book collection.
After two months of sightseeing and book shopping, the Wideners were ready to head back to the United States. They booked first-class cabins on the Titanic’s maiden voyage and set sail from Cherbourg on April 10th. This luxurious trip would be remembered forever as the Wideners’ final voyage.
Miraculous Escape: A Titanic Story of Survival
On April 10th 1912, Eleanor Elkins and her family boarded the Titanic full of hope and excitement for the future. Little did they know that five days later, the liner would collide with an iceberg in the middle of the North Atlantic.
At 2.30 am disaster struck, but Eleanor and her maid were luckier than most, managing to scramble onto lifeboat no. 4 and escape the sinking ship. Unfortunately, her husband George Dunton Widener and son Harry stayed onboard to help others, and went down with the Titanic. Despite the tragedy, Eleanor’s story is one of incredible courage and strength in the face of adversity.
A Journey of Love and Legacy: Exploring Eleanor Elkins' Memorials
Step back in time and follow in the footsteps of Eleanor Elkins, a woman whose deep love for her husband led her to embark on an inspiring journey of remembrance.
After her heartbreak and loss, she vowed to complete the grand mansion which they had embarked on building and to rebuild a historic church to ensure his legacy would never be forgotten. Come join us as we take a tour of these unique memorials, and remember the power of love and commitment that Eleanor Elkins’ story embodies.
A Story of Loss, Legacy and Lavish Living: The Miramar Mansion
Eleanor Elkins Widener was grief-stricken following the death of her beloved son, Harry. To honor his memory, she chose to fund the Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library at Harvard University, his alma mater, and assigned her go-to architect Trumbauer to design the building.
But she didn’t stop there. In 1913, Eleanor unveiled her petit palais, the 27-bedroom, 14-bathroom Miramar mansion, inspired by French neo-classicism and modeled after the 18th-century L’hôtel de Cassini in Paris. The lavish abode was aptly named Miramar, which is Spanish for ‘sea view’, in recognition of its glorious ocean vistas.
Unlock the Secrets of a Spectacular Mansion
Discover the grandeur and splendor of this unique American estate. Built in 1915, this sprawling limestone mansion spans over 30,982 square feet and costs a staggering $43 million (£32.3m) when adjusted for inflation. Its 42 windows were once covered with awnings to protect the priceless tapestries from the sun’s rays.
It’s said servants were even assigned to watch the sun like a hawk, making sure the awnings were lowered and raised as its position shifted across the sky. Step inside and explore the breathtaking beauty of this one-of-a-kind manor.
Heavenly Abode: Luxury at its Finest
Step into a world of opulence and grandeur! This sprawling mansion is the epitome of luxury, featuring all the modern amenities and comforts you could ever wish for. Boasting a spacious service court and 16 Rolls-Royce limousines which were reportedly polished to perfection every day, this was living in the lap of luxury.
If that wasn’t enough, the estate also has greenhouses, an ice house, a head gardener’s cottage, and a bijou house near the front of the property. Now that’s what we call true grandeur!
Marvel at the Magnificence of the Majestic Entrance!
Step into the grandeur of the majestic entrance and be enthralled by the magnificent interiors crafted by Parisian firm Carlhian & Cie. From the polished marble floor to the Caen stone columns, no detail has been spared in the creation of this extraordinary space.
Even the furnishings have been sourced from the legendary art dealer Joseph Duveen, 1st Baron Duveen, making it a lavish affair. Experience the Beaux-Arts flourishes and let yourself be mesmerized by the grandeur of this room.
Romance Blossoms: The Love Story of Eleanor Elkins and Alexander H Rice Jr.
In June 1915, Eleanor Elkins and Alexander H Rice Jr were brought together at the dedication of her son’s library. Little did either of them know that this would be the beginning of a remarkable romance. Despite the age gap, Eleanor fell head over heels for the intrepid Harvard professor and explorer.
The couple kept their relationship a secret for some time, but soon their love blossomed into something beautiful. Today, Eleanor and Alexander’s story serves as a reminder that true love can conquer all obstacles.
A Night of Splendour: Eleanor Elkins' Inauguration Ball
On a warm August night, 500 VIP guests were treated to a night of opulence and splendor at Eleanor Elkins’ inauguration ball at Miramar. Celebrated by the New York Times as the social event of the summer, the evening was full of extraordinary delights.
Guests feasted on a decadent banquet in a specially erected marquee and were treated to a selection of music from three orchestras. Revelers danced the night away in the ballroom and on the terrace, awestruck by the trees twinkling with electrical illuminations, a real novelty for the time.
A Love Story in the Grandest of Spaces: The Enchanting Marriage of Eleanor Elkins and Alexander H Rice Jr.
When Eleanor Elkins and Alexander H Rice Jr. married in October 1915, they kept their beautiful love story a secret until the last minute. Their special day was made even more magical, as they said their vows in the grandest of spaces – the vast ballroom of the Elkins Estate.
This majestic room was based on a stateroom at the Château de Louveciennes near Paris, and its splendor was undeniable. From the dazzling crystal chandeliers to the Louis XVI gilded boiserie wall paneling, parquet de Versailles floor and ornate fireplaces, it was truly a sight to behold.
Unveiling Unrivaled Elegance: Exploring the Splendid Interiors of a French Palace
Step inside the magnificent drawing room of a French palace and you will be immediately dazzled by its grandeur. Ornate furnishings and decorations adorn the space, creating a breathtakingly beautiful atmosphere. Five luxurious Gobelin tapestries by the famed François Boucher adorn the walls – a sight to behold.
The Persian carpet that once graced the Grand Mogul Palace in Delhi adds an air of grandeur, while exquisite Sèvres porcelain pieces complete the picture. It’s no wonder this room was a highlight of the palace!
A Glittering Legacy: Eleanor Elkins and Alexander H Rice Jr.
From hosting glamorous parties to sparking a nationwide champagne craze, Eleanor Elkins and Alexander H Rice Jr. left behind an impressive legacy. Their renowned Tennis Week ball was the talk of the town, and the couple’s flair for entertaining was unmatched.
In the 1930s, their inventive idea of serving champagne in pitchers was all the rage, and their elegant gatherings were the envy of all. It’s no wonder these two were the epitome of the golden age of socializing.
A Dining Room Fit for a King: Magnificent Decorations in the US
Experience the grandeur of a French palace right here in the US. The incredibly decorative dining room of this property is one of the finest of its kind and is designed to accommodate up to 50 guests.
Inspired by the reception rooms in the iconic Palace of Versailles, the space is clad in polychrome marble panels that were crafted in France in the 18th century. Step inside and be transported to a different world, filled with exquisite beauty and grandeur.
Discover the Delightful 18th Century Tapestry in this Room
Step into this room and you’ll be captivated by its charm. From the imposing marble fireplace and console table, to the exquisite gilded relief decoration on the walls, it’s nothing short of breathtaking.
But the pièce de résistance is the stunning 18th-century Gobelin tapestry that mesmerizes with its golden hue. The intricate wool and silk textile, dating from the bygone era, brings to life two scenes from the classic Spanish novel Don Quixote. Marvel at its beauty and get lost in its enchantment!
A Timeless Treasure - Exploring the Stunning Manse of Alexander and His Wife
Step back in time to the stunning manse of Alexander and his wife. As you can see from the old photo of the dining room, the space has been beautifully preserved, complete with chandeliers that have been hanging for decades. Although much of the original furniture has been sold off or bequeathed, the manse still retains a timeless charm.
Alexander and his wife were no strangers to adventure, often traveling to far-flung places and embarking on exciting journeys together. Take a journey to the past and experience the beauty of this timeless treasure.
The Gutsiness of Eleanor Elkins: A Titanic Tale
Eleanor Elkins’ story of courage and bravery began long before the fateful day of the Titanic disaster. But on that day, in a display of her strength and determination, Eleanor is said to have taken charge of the lifeboat by grabbing the oars and helping to row it to safety.
After the tragedy, Eleanor’s perseverance was further displayed in the completion of a magnificent manse, with the reception room clad in early 17th-century mahogany panels from a French stately home. Eleanor had truly earned her title of adventuress!
A Kitchen of Historical Charm and Character
Step into the kitchen of this historic mansion, and you will be greeted with a sense of its enduring charm. From the bespoke wooden cabinetry to the original table from 1915, the space is rich with character.
The luxurious, extra-thick marble countertops provide a contemporary touch to the room. Fun fact – the kitchen was once under the control of a notoriously demanding French chef – who would only cook on wood and was believed to have had a tumultuous relationship with the butler!
Step into a World of Luxury: An Enchanting Living Room!
Experience the luxury and grandeur of a bygone era with a visit to this extraordinary living room. Adorned with a beautiful bas-relief mural depicting Diana, the goddess of hunting, the room is a testament to its original purpose as a bar and games room.
The space is further elevated with a dazzling crystal chandelier, a gigantic carved wood bar, a billiard table, and a selection of exquisite 18th-century French chairs and sofas. Come and explore this enchanting living room and discover a world of luxury!
A Luxurious Start to the Day: Step Into the Splendid Breakfast Room
Greet the day in style and luxury with breakfast in the stunning breakfast room! Housed in a bright loggia, the room is graced with magnificent ocean views that can be enjoyed through its multiple French doors.
The dome ceiling adds drama to the space, and the gold and white spider-webbed marble flooring, pilaster and festoon wall decorations, and circular chandelier all contribute to the elegance of the room. Start your day off in the most luxurious way with a visit to the breakfast room!
Explore the Splendour of Eleanor and Alexander's Room!
Take a journey back in time and explore the splendor of Eleanor and Alexander’s room! Admire the exquisite Persian carpet that still graces the floor and the delightful chandelier that has stood the test of time.
Although the original furniture is no longer present, except for the round table in the center, the room still exudes a historic charm and allure that can’t be denied. Finally, don’t forget to make a stop by the wine cellar and take in the timeless beauty of this era.
A Place to Pop the Corks: Savoring the Wonders of a 10,000-Bottle Wine Cellar
For the ultimate party hosts, a unique feature of their home was a 10,000-bottle wine cellar. Designed to impress their guests and make entertaining a breeze, this room was truly one of a kind.
Imagine being able to keep 200 bottles of bubbly chilled at any one time with a supersized trough filled with ice. This couple’s passion for entertaining was evident in every detail of their home and the cellar was a shining star. Now that’s a place to pop the corks!
A Glimpse into the Gilded Age of Eleanor
Experience a journey through time as you ascend the sweeping staircase, adorned with an elegant wrought-iron handrail and gilded details. Eleanor, the beloved heiress of the Gilded Age, was an admirer of the finer things in life, and even in her dying days, she was living her passion.
Sadly, she succumbed to a fatal heart attack in 1937 while indulging in her favorite pastime – shopping in a Parisian department store. Step back in time and pay tribute to Eleanor’s legacy.
A Luxurious Legacy: Enjoying the High Life in Eleanor Elkins' Mansion
Welcome to the master suite of Eleanor Elkins’ incredible mansion. What began as her dream home, has now become a luxurious haven for Alexander Elkins, her second husband, and the high life he continues to relish.
With an estimated fortune of $211 million (£160m) in today’s money, upon Alexander’s passing, Eleanor’s surviving son and daughter will inherit the mansion. With a legacy so grand, it’s no wonder the Elkins family can live life to the fullest in their luxurious abode.
Living Like a King: Alexander's Lavish Lifestyle
Alexander was living like a true king in the New York residence he shared with Eleanor. As per the 1940 census, 19 servants were at his beck and call, catering to his every need.
This wasn’t all, as Alexander also employed 17 gardeners to look after the grounds. All of this made it possible for Alexander to enjoy a luxurious lifestyle. To take full advantage of it, he would frequently travel to Miramar to spend the summer season in utmost comfort. It’s safe to say, Alexander had it all!
A Bedroom Fit for a Professor: Miramar Mansion
The late Professor Everett had a life of privilege, and it showed in the ornate bedroom of Miramar Mansion. With its high ceilings, detailed wooden carvings, and vintage furniture, this room was fit for a king. After his first wife Eleanor passed away, the professor remarried and continued to spend summers in the mansion until his death in 1956.
When Eleanor’s surviving children chose to donate the property to the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island, the mansion was converted into a retreat and conference center. Step into the bedroom of a professor and take a step back in time at Miramar Mansion.
The Rise and Fall of Miramar School for Girls
In 1964, Roy and Ruth Penner purchased the property and established the prestigious Miramar School for Girls. Located in the luxe mansion, the school welcomed privileged boarders to its grand bedrooms. However, the school did not last long and shut down in 1969.
It was then sold to a company called C J Stevens Corp. and the mansion’s glorious days came to an end. Miramar School for Girls was a short-lived dream that aimed to deliver an elite education to a select few.
A Bargain of a Lifetime - The Miramar Realty Estate
When we come across the next bedroom in the Miramar Realty Estate, our eyes cannot help but be drawn to the two wonderful double-aspect windows and curved corner doors.
In 1970 the estate was sold to the Miramar Realty Corp and the following year it was bought for the equivalent of just $819,000 (£615k) today. Lucky for Andrew Panteleakis, the real estate developer who snapped it up! It is safe to say that he got the bargain of a lifetime!
A Dream Home with a Dream Price Tag: Miramar Mansion
When Wall Street tycoon David B Ford purchased Miramar Mansion in 2006, he made Rhode Island history. The estate, which features a handsome carriage house and a tennis court, was sold to Ford for $17.2 million (£12.9m), smashing the record for the most expensive family home in the state.
Previously owned by Greek-American entrepreneur George Panteleakis, the former residence and HQ for his business had an initial $25 million (£18.9m) asking price. With its luxurious grounds and stunning architecture, Miramar Mansion is the perfect example of the American dream and a true testament to its price tag.
Preserving the Past, Investing in the Future: Miramar Estate is Restored to its Former Glory
David B. Ford’s investment into the Miramar Estate was no small feat. With the help of architectural historian John Tschirch and other preservation experts, Ford restored the property to its original aesthetic and invested in the Miramar Arboretum, which covered the estate’s 7.8 acres of grounds.
This project was no doubt a labor of love, and the results are a sight to behold. Thanks to Ford, visitors to the estate can now enjoy the lush gardens and get a glimpse of the past.
Gardens of Grandeur: Miramar’s Stunning Restoration
The majestic and much-loved Miramar estate has been restored to its former glory, with the handiwork of renowned landscape designer Jacques Gréber and a team of 17 gardeners. It’s no surprise that the property sold for an incredible $27 million (£20.3m) last September.
We can only hope that the new owner is respectful of the estate’s history and continues to take good care of it. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for a successful restoration of the formal rose gardens and that the property remains a symbol of grandeur for years to come.