Rough Point is the Duke family mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, which features an extensive collection of European fine and decorative arts.
Rough Point was Doris Duke’s home in Newport, Rhode Island. Situated on a rocky promontory overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the Gothic-style house was completed in 1891 at the height of the Gilded Age for Frederick W. Vanderbilt. Doris Duke’s father, J.B. Duke, purchased the rambling 39,000-square-foot house in 1922 for an undisclosed sum.
At the time of the purchase, Rough Point was 31 years old and its style was somewhat outdated. In keeping with the decor of the 1920s, J.B. and Nanaline Duke hired architect Horace Trumbauer to make extensive modifications, including replacing many wooden floors and dark oak paneling with marble floors and molded plaster ceilings. They also significantly altered the floor plan, enlarging and adding numerous rooms.
After Nanaline Duke’s interest in the house waned, Rough Point went through a decade of habitation by part-time caretakers. Fortunately, it later caught Doris Duke’s interest, and she started purchasing art and antiques in 1958 and 1959 to fill what was then a sparsely furnished house. Doris Duke re-opened it in 1962, and for the remainder of her life it was one of her favorite homes.
During her time in Newport, Doris Duke also undertook her first serious efforts in historic preservation. In 1968, she founded the Newport Restoration Foundation (NRF) to save the city’s rapidly disappearing 18th-century architecture. With support from NRF, more than 100 architects and craftsmen worked over 16 years to save 83 Colonial- and Federal-era structures. The houses, which are still owned and preserved by NRF, represent a remarkable collection of early Rhode Island architecture.
Today, Rough Point is maintained by NRF as a public museum and is supported by funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. It displays the Duke family’s extensive collections of European fine and decorative arts, which were assembled over seven decades and include works by Gainsborough, van Dyck, Reynolds, Bol and Renoir. Tapestries, textiles and oriental porcelain complement furniture and decorative arts from England and continental Europe.
For more information on Rough Point and the Newport Restoration Foundation, visit www.newportrestoration.org.