Graceful gates introduce the main house of more than 20,000 square feet. Silk-covered walls, molded plasterwork, and a limestone fireplace decorate the entrance hall, while sea views and natural light stream in through south-facing leaded-glass windows and doors at the rear of the house. To the west, an intimate receiving room, panelled library, and oceanfront salon flanked by a long colonnaded terrace give way to a barrel-vaulted ballroom. East from the hall, a delicately hued dining room is served by a substantial kitchen and butler’s pantry.
The second and third floors host two luxurious oceanfront master suites with terraces, sitting rooms, offices, fireplaces, and dressing rooms; seven additional bedrooms; and staff quarters. Spanning over 4,000 square feet, the carriage house contains one-and three-bedroom apartments, two staff suites, an office, a gymnasium, several storage garages, and a main parking garage for five cars.
The social history of the property is equally rich in detail. Fairholme was first created as a “summer cottage” for Fairman Rogers of Philadelphia, a wealthy arts patron and engineer; Rogers, also a noted coaching authority, is the subject of Thomas Eakins’ iconic tour du force of late 19th century American painting, “Fairman Rogers’ Four-in-Hand”. Twenty years later, the Drexel family – also of Philadelphia – purchased the property and promptly enlarged and updated it, adding the Trumbauer ballroom and tower and otherwise modernizing the interior. The Drexels were very much a part of the Newport summer colony’s social scene, and Fairholme was the setting for any number of lavish entertainments attended by friends and neighbors such as the Vanderbilts, the Astors, the Van Beurens, and the Belmonts. Slightly later, the estate was acquired by the Count and Countess Alphonso Villa, followed by industrialist railroad magnate Robert Young, whose wife Anita was the sister of artist Georgia O’Keefe. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor were close friends of the Youngs and were frequent guests at the estate during their tenure there, as was Jack Kennedy, who often made use of the swimming pool.