The Breakers

Some shots of the inside

Click any picture for its somewhat larger (640 x 480) version.

Around the main center atrium/lobby

Random interior details, including a small fountain under the main staircase

Main dining room

Billiards room, paneled in white marble with a very heavy iron light fixture support over the table

Morning room (?)

Music room

not sure which room

Study / library

Various bedrooms (upstairs)

Telephones and other signaling setups existed back then, but only for in-house communications. Mrs. Vanderbilt reportedly directed much of the house's operation from a "nerve center" in her own bedroom. Note the buttons dedicated to specific stations to call, as opposed to being a general-purpose dial. Wall buttons would summon specific parts of the staff; other bedrooms have fewer buttons but with similar purposes. There is extensive technical information about this particular system in a historical document on servant life (about 80 Mb!) from the Preservation Society site. Efforts to track down wiring and determine purpose are ongoing, not only here at The Breakers but in the other Newport houses as well.

Communicating outside the house was never done electronically in well-bred society, even if the capability existed. A message to someone at another house would be handwritten on paper in beautiful copperplate, and formally delivered to the other residence by an impeccably-dressed footman.

Servants and residents likely interacted most closely in dressing areas, which connect to bedrooms and back hallways. Residents and guests changed outfits 5 or 6 times per day to be wearing the "correct" clothing for any given activity. The hanger "shoulders" are about 9 feet off the floor, with long handles hanging down to be reachable; at a guess to make sure long dresses could hang straight and not drag on the ground.

more random bedroom areas

The "upper loggia", aka back porch, with a lovely view overlooking the ocean to the southeast. After touring through a bunch of bedrooms before arriving here, clearly the right answer is the heck with all those luxurious and ornate accomodations, just throw down a mattress *here* on a nice summer night!

The ceiling is painted to look like draped caonpies stretched over ropes, but often gives the weird optical illusion that the fabric is bellying upward instead of down.

Tapestry and embellishments over the main staircase

More of the upper atrium, while heading out of it toward the servants' areas and back downstairs

Kitchen and pantry areas. The big walk-in vault is storage for the silver, of which strict inventory was kept and evidently was a high theft target back in the day. The better china also got locked away when not in use.

Random tail-end stuff and the inevitable museum store; the loo apparently occupies an area that used to house heating facilities given the arched brick doorways and occasional nooks with large iron heat-exchangers suspended inside. This seems a little strange because the actual boiler plant back then was located some distance away from the house for better fire prevention.

External references

The Preservation Society has a short video file (21 Mb) which sweeps across parts of the Breakers interior quite a bit.

It appears that "wallyg" took a few sneak shots inside Breakers and other properties and threw them into his Flickr set, along with some historical commentary swiped from somewhere else.

_H* 091112