Where? (Location)
Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

Oakwood Estate, where the kings of New England live

The title refers to the famous line, “Good night, you princes of Maine, you kings of New England” said by Dr. Larch in the renowned 1985 novel by John Irving, The Cider House Rules, and the subsequent critically claimed film starring Michael Caine, whereby if the American region of New England was ruled by a monarchy, Oakwood Estate would without a doubt be the residence of choice for princes or kings.

This magnificent stately home, constructed in the mid 19th century in the state of Newport, Rhode Island, exudes grandeur and wealth, and has been the residence of several important figures throughout its history. It was home to figures such as Mary Alida Astor, daughter of the prominent 19th century property mogul William Blackhouse Astor, who was was widely considered to be the wealthiest man in the United States at the time.

The ancestry of the Astor family, a name synonymous with the upper classes of the East Coast during the 19th and 20th centuries, has its roots in Germany, in particular in the city of Waldorf. At the end of the 1700s John Jacob and George Astor, two sons of a humble butcher, decided to emigrate to England, where upon settling in London made their fortune making musical instruments. Five years later, John Jacob left England alone to live in the United States, first in Baltimore then ultimately settling in New York. Having established himself on the East Coast, John Jacob started a family, fathering eight children in total. Amongst those, one would grow up to be William Blackhouse Astor. The importance of the Astor family cannot be understated and during this period they were known as ´the landlords of New York´ and their mark can still be seen today in the Astoria or Queens suburbs as well as in the well-known Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. As time passed, Oakwood Estate became one of the most symbolic luxury houses in this privileged corner of the United States.

To begin to understand the importance of this property it is necessary to stress the beauty of the site on which it was built. It sits on a spectacular verdant plot (approximately measuring 2 hectares), complete with ancient trees over 100 years old, immaculate ponds and ornamental fountains, a lake and a pool with lovely slate decorations. Furthermore lovers of sport have a croquet course, a tennis court and a six-hole golf course at their disposal.

However the area that surrounds the mansion itself is only one aspect of what makes this estate so special, as we realize as soon as we enter the property´s grounds through a forged iron door. A charming walkway lined with 100 year old trees leads the visitor directly to the house, which has recently been subject to extensive renovations in order to recreate the grandeur of its spectacular past.

The interior of this spacious mansion (980 m2) is spread across 24 luxurious classicist-style rooms. Oakwood Estate consists of nine bedrooms, many of which contain large dressing rooms and marble bathrooms with beautiful tiles. On the inside certain rooms stand out in particular such as the large living room, which was the old ballroom, the dining room with exotic Chinese paintings, the projector room, the music room with a lovely elaborate Baccarat chandelier, the study, the drawing room and the well appointed kitchen that was renowned for making delicacies from all over the world.

Today in the 21st century, Oakwood Estate maintains, through its carefully restored gardens and rooms, the lineage of a family that played a key part in writing the history of the New England region.

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