High court steps into fight on Vanderbilts' Breakers mansion

Court News Posted on

Rhode Island's highest court heard arguments Tuesday in a fight that has pitted dozens of members of the Vanderbilt family against a nonprofit that owns several Gilded Age mansions in Newport.

The nonprofit Preservation Society of Newport County wants to build a visitors center on the grounds of The Breakers, a spectacular mansion built by Cornelius Vanderbilt II.

Dozens of preservationists, as well as designer Gloria Vanderbilt and nearly four dozen Vanderbilt relatives, have said the center as planned would "permanently mar" the national historic landmark.

Two members of the Vanderbilt family attended Tuesday's arguments before the Rhode Island Supreme Court over two separate lawsuits. But the arguments involved zoning and licensing issues raised by neighbors and the city, not the family's objections and the question of whether the center would hurt the historical integrity of the site.

The Preservation Society wants to build the center to give visitors a place to buy snacks and sandwiches, use accessible restrooms and buy tickets indoors. They have argued The Breakers is a museum, and museums should be allowed to serve food.

Daniel Prentiss, a lawyer for the neighbors' group, told the Supreme Court that The Breakers is in a residential zone in "one of the most famous neighborhoods in the country." The neighborhood is packed with mansions and bordered on one side by the Atlantic Ocean and Cliff Walk.

Allowing food to be served at The Breakers, Prentiss said, could open the door to museums serving food elsewhere in the neighborhood and city.

But Preservation Society lawyer William Landry said most museums around the world allow patrons to have a glass of wine and a meal, and the Preservation Society would have to meet certain requirements for food service.

"This is no license to have McDonald's in every museum in Newport," Landry told the justices, adding that The Breakers hosts 400,000 people from all over the world every year.

Legal News Media

Legal News is the top headline legal news provider for lawyers and legalprofessionals. Read law articles and breaking news from law firm's across the United States to get the latest updates. We reserve the right, at our discretion, to change, modify, add, or remove portions of the site at any time. Your This site is solely for your personal use. You are, of course, welcome to print or otherwise copy material from this site for your personal use. However, you may not distribute, exchange, modify, sell or transmit anything you copy from this Site, including but not limited to any text, images, audio and video, for any business, commercial or public purpose. Any unauthorized use of the text, images, audio and video may violate copyright laws, trademark laws, the laws of privacy and publicity and civil and criminal statutes.

 

American Bar Association – Start and Run a Law Firm

NewYorkStateBar.com – Starting a Law Firm

Lawyer Website Designs