The Gilded Age’s Most Elegant House on The Point

‘Sanford-Covell House’ was developed on the waterfront home and workshop of the famous cabinet maker, John Goddard, and is a remarkable example of Newport’s early domestic resort Victorian-style architecture of the Gilded Age. Constructed for New Yorker Milton H. Sanford in 1869-1870, the home was made entirely built by Bostonian parties, even down to the furnishings for the parlor.  The two-and-a-half-story ‘shingle style’ home has an angular mansard roof, flaring at the eaves.  As described by the Boston Journal on August 9, 1870, “As rather plain on the exterior…the interior finishes are hardly to be described.”  According to the Preservation Society, the house is virtually unaltered from its original condition and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.  The villa has proudly been lovingly preserved by its original descendants for six generations.  

The ‘Sanford-Covell House’ is a true gem and fine example of the Gilded Age, highlighting the era’s great wealth and remarkable architecture.  Its interiors are rich with fine woods such as waxed oak, ash, cherry, hard pine, maple, black walnut, butternut, and ebony.  No carpets were placed down on the main floors as they would have obscured the intricate patterns and woodworking.  Among the more extraordinary features are the grand staircase and entrance hall, which rises 35 feet from floor to ceiling, its elevation being accented by projecting balconies at various levels.  The highly stylized original stenciled designs are still preserved and make this house an unspoiled period piece.  Painted in rose, blue, and peach pastels, they are intricately gilded and stenciled in the hard, elaborate, Pompeian manner.  No expense was spared, from the beautifully polished panels of the grand staircase and entrance hall to gorgeous stained-glass windows.  Designed by William Ralph Emerson (cousin of Ralph Waldo Emerson), its construction predates the Bellevue Avenue building boom, bringing Newport’s grand estates by the Vanderbilt’s, Whitney’s, and Astor’s.  Unable to purchase more land, M.H. Sanford built a 100-foot sea wall and created a “pretty lawn,” which was done at a great expense.  The bedrooms on the second floor highlight the stunning harbor view, where its original inhabitants could have seen up and down the Narragansett Bay.  Twentieth-century luxuries such as a heated salt pool and spa have been added, harmoniously blending the Gilded Age’s grace and charm, as well as a private deep-water dock. 

Although presently open and run as one of Newport’s finest inns, ‘Villa Marina’, it is being marketed and offered to the public as a single-family residential opportunity, currently priced at $7,200,000.  Historic restrictions are attached to the deed and can be reviewed upon request.  Represented by Paul Leys, pleys@gustavewhite.com

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