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We should all be so fortunate to have a husband who gives us a $11 million “cottage” on our 30th birthday. Yet that’s what Kenneth Vanderbilt, grandson of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, did. The mansion was modeled after the Petit Trianon at Versailles. Built between 1888 and 1892, the structure used 500,000 cubic feet of marble at a cost of $7 million. The Marble House set the stage for Newport to transform from a quiet village into a playground filled with grandiose summer homes for the wealthy. The mansion soon became a landmark in Newport society.
As it’s done for more than 150 years, Beavertail Lighthouse stands ready at the mouth of Narragansett Bay to guide ships and boats traveling through the bay. The lighthouse was built in 1856, though there have been warning lights here there since the early 18th century – the local tribe used fires to light the way. Beavertail Lighthouse was the third lighthouse in the colonies and is one of Rhode Island’s top lighthouses. The light rotates every six seconds 24/7, with a foghorn that goes off every 30 seconds when it’s foggy out.
For much of the year, Narragansett has less than 16,000 people, but the population more than doubles in the summer months. The reason: Narragansett has four of the best beaches in Rhode Island. Possibly the most interesting of them is the Sally Brine Beach, named for a local radio personality. British warships anchored here during the Revolutionary War; today, people enjoy watching fishing boats come and go. Scarborough State Park takes the nod for the most popular, being the best saltwater beach in southern New England. Roger Wheeler State Beach has ramps for handicap access, while Town Beach is located in the town center.