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Edith Wharton's Newport Mansion Is on the Market for $11.7 Million

Chloe Foussianes
Photo credit: Getty Images/Christie’s International Real Estate

From Veranda

Usually, matters of provenance are reserved for valuing fine art-but with a Newport mansion called "Land's End," an impressive pedigree is a key selling point.

Designed in the late 19th century by architect John Sturgis, the sprawling estate was heavily renovated by celebrated writer Edith Wharton in the ten years she owned it. It's also been home to legendary socialite Marion “Oatsie” Charles-and now, with a price tag of $11.7 million, Land's End is looking for a new stately owner.

Photo credit: Christie’s International Real Estate

When Wharton moved in circa 1890, she found it to be "ugly wooden house with half an acre of rock and illimitable miles of Atlantic Ocean," the Wall Street Journal reports. (It couldn't have really been that bad, though, since she paid the equivalent of $2.3 million to buy it.)

With the help of her friend Ogden Codman Jr., she overhauled the estate, deliberately choosing a more pared-down aesthetic. "Codman shared my dislike of these sumptuary excesses, and thought as I did that interior decoration should be simple and architectural," Wharton wrote.

Her vision was informed by what she didn't want: an overly chintzy Gilded Age design, a look favored by some of her Newport peers. The Vanderbilts, for instance, Wharton found to be "entrenched in a sort of Thermopylae of bad taste, from which apparently no force on earth can dislodge them."

Ironically, 100-odd years later, even Wharton's comparatively spare interiors have an ostentatious look to them. Granted, a 5.6-acre beachfront estate with 12 bedrooms, nine and a half bathrooms, and a bonus carriage house is never going to seem understated.

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