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Architecture & Heritage: Salve's Seven Estates

A guide to the architecture and history of Salve Regina's most notable buildings.

A summer residence

Commissioned by New York real estate magnate Ogden Goelet as his family's summer residence, Ochre Court (1888-1892) was designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt. Built in the Beaux-Arts style, Goelet spent an estimated $4.5 million on the estate between 1888 and 1892. James Sinclair and company completed the stonework with blue Indiana limestone, and the 13 acres of estate grounds were designed by the Olmsted brothers. Interior decorators Jules Allard and Karl Theodore Francis Bitter collaborated on the design of the interiors. Ochre Court was one of the first electrified residences in Newport. 

Examples of its French Gothic style are pointed arches, lancet windows, stained glass windows, rounded arches, and floral and acanthus leaf carvings.  Ochre Court was donated to Religious Sisters of Mercy for Salve Regina College in 1947 by Robert Goelet.  Mrs. Roberta Goelet donated the furnishings.

Archival photos:

 

Sources: RIAMCO (Rhode Island Archival and Manuscript Collections Online), the Campus buildings of Salve Regina University and "Newport through its architecture" by James Yarnall. 

Special Collections

Goelet Family Papers include correspondence, financial documents, and other materials related to the construction and decoration of Ochre Court and other properties. 

Collection on Goelet Furnishings contains research papers such as translations, room inventories, and auction information on the objects from Ochre Court. 

Great Hall of Ochre Court

French Gothic chateaux and churches provided architect Richard Morris Hunt with the inspiration to create the Great Hall of Ochre Court, which soars above three floors. (Photo by Kathryn Whitney Lucey)

Other Resources

French painting uncovered in Ochre Court

         - Students interested in historical preservation, who were visiting from South Carolina, discovered the painting in the building's former ballroom, as recounted in the Newport Daily News. 

From Venice to Newport: a painting by Giambettino Cignaroli lost and found

          - Andrea Tomezzoli, The Burlington Magazine Vol. 157, No. 1344, Drawing in Italy (March 2015), pp. 181-185 (5 pages). An art historian analyzes the painting uncovered in the Ochre Court Ballroom.

Ochre Court trivia

         -  Provides some entertaining facts about the property and a snapshot of the building's history by the Newport Discovery Guide. 

Ochre Court featured in "Gilded Age Era" blog

         - Provides historical background information, pictures, and plans of the inside of the mansion.

Historic Houses blog 

         A blog about historic houses, including many in Newport and specifically Ochre Court too, by a Dowling College librarian who curates the Long Island South Shore History project.  

Ochre Court Gardens

Frederick Law Olmsted designed Ochre Court's gardens, with the landscaping work overseen by James H. and Ernest Bowditch. The Olmsted firm's job number for the project was #1203.

The National Park Service maintains the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site in Brookline, MA and has an extensive guide on the firm's archives. You can also search the records on the NPS archival holdings for Olmsted at http://ww3.rediscov.com/Olmsted/. Searching for the job number "01203" will yield information about this project's records.

Ochre Court

Students pictured in front of Ochre Court, with a west view of the mansion. (Photo by Kindra Clineff)

Ochre Court, designed by Richard Morris Hunt, was a gift to the Religious Sisters of Mercy from Robert Goelet, in 1947, thereby establishing Salve Regina University in 1947. Ochre Court served as the entire campus for the first few years of the college’s existence, and now houses the central administration offices of the university. Ochre Court provides a stunning venue for concerts, student dances, lectures and special functions throughout the year. 

Sources: Campus buildings of Salve Regina University and RIAMCO (Rhode Island Archival and Manuscript Collections Online). 

Books

Aerial view of Ochre Court

The French Gothic facade of Ochre Court faces the sea, as shown in a northeastern, aerial view. (Photo by John W. Corbett)