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Friday, June 17th, 2011

Remarkable Newport property invites new owner with a sense of history

There are holiday cottages and there are holiday cottages; obviously Fairman Rogers had something rather more grand than traditional low ceilings and tiny rooms in mind when he instigated the creation of Fairholme in the 1870s.

Life was lived on a grand scale then, a fact that is confirmed by the magnificent proportions of this superior Newport, Rhode Island villa. Built for Fairman Rogers, the subject of Thomas Eakins’s celebrated 19th century painting, ‘Fairman Rogers Four-in-hand’, the property was later sold to the Drexel family who, like Rogers, hailed from Philadelphia and who immediately set about renovating and extending it, building the impressive Trumbauer ballroom and turret. Local opinion states that the Drexel residency marked Fairholme’s heyday; the family’s guest list was impressive, featuring many of the 20th century’s most illustrious names.

With the addition of the ballroom, the Drexels had the freedom to throw some of the most extravagant parties on America’s East Coast. The Vanderbilts, the Astors, the Van Beurens and the Belmonts, all at one time or another found themselves taking to the floor under the cover of the Trumbauer turret.

Following the era of the Drexels, Fairholme was bought by the Count and Countess Alphonso Villa, who sold the property on to railroad magnate Robert Young and his wife, Anita, who was the sister of revolutionary artist, Georgia O’Keefe. This combination of money and artistic connections resulted in some impressive social gatherings; guests at the Youngs’ parties included John F. Kennedy (who was regularly invited to use the vast swimming pool) and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

Now Fairholme is again looking for a new owner – preferably someone with the vision to see how  its glory days could be recreated.

Situated right on the coast, this superb home has been designed to make full use of the magnificent views of the Atlantic. From the olde worlde opulence of the grand entrance hall to the impressive Horace Trumbauer ballroom, Fairholme has one of the most impressive pedigrees in the Newport area of Rhode Island. The hall acts as a logical focal point; on the west side lie a comfortable living room, a library and the ballroom, while on the east side are the dining room and a service wing that includes a large seafront kitchen and butler’s pantry.

The second and third floors contain seven bedrooms, five of which feature en-suite bathrooms. Two master-suites enjoy the best sea views, with outdoor terraces plus separate sitting rooms, offices, fireplaces, dressing rooms and bathrooms. Altogether, Fairholme contains 11 bathrooms, plus two additional cloakrooms.

Outside, the most prominent feature is the vast swimming pool, which has been equipped with a sophisticated sound system, sunbathing area and two heated marble bath houses.

This peerless slice of Rhode Island real estate has had several green-fingered owners and today still includes three heated greenhouses, where Fairholme’s new owners – and their staff – will have the capacity to grow their own fruit and vegetables.

Even in an area where properties inevitably exude an air of effortless quality, this ‘holiday cottage’ punches massively above its weight.

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