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Rough Point

Top choice in Newport

While the peerless position and splendor of the grounds alone are worth the price of admission, this faux-English manor house also contains heiress and philanthropist Doris Duke’s impressive art holdings, including medieval tapestries, furniture owned by French emperors, Ming dynasty ceramics, and paintings by Renoir and Van Dyck.

Built in 1889 by Frederick W Vanderbilt on a rocky bluff jutting out into the ocean, Rough Point was later purchased by tobacco baron James B Duke, and passed to his only daughter, Doris (then aged 12), in 1925 along with his $80 million fortune. Throughout her teenage years Doris spent her summers here, and as an adult Rough Point was one of her favorite houses.

The contents of the house are exactly as she left them at the time of her death in 1993, when she bequeathed the house to the Newport Restoration Society (which she founded) with the directive that it be opened as a museum. Particularly interesting is a glassed-in sunroom containing just about the only pedestrian furniture (the couch appears to be from a department store). Also on hand are mannequins wearing some of Duke's eight decades of bizarre clothing.

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