Rhode Island Archival and Manuscript Collections Online

For Participating Institutions

Collection on Goelet furnishings

McKillop Library

McKillop Library
100 Ochre Point Avenue
Salve Regina University
Newport, RI 02840
Tel: 401-341-2276
Fax: 401-341-2951
email: archives@salve.edu

Biographical note

Ogden Goelet (1846-1897) was a scion of a wealthy New York family that had made vast investments in real estate over several generations. Ogden and his brother, Robert, were very much a part of high New York society and were founders of the New York Metropolitan Opera. Ogden married Mary R. Wilson in 1878 and had two children, Mary "May" Wilson Goelet (1879?-1937) and Robert Goelet (1880-1966). After 1884, the main Goelet residence in New York City was at 608 Fifth Avenue (49th and Fifth). After several years of poor health, Ogden died in 1897 on his yacht Mayflower at Cowes, England.

Ochre Court, commissioned by Ogden Goelet as his family's summer residence in Newport, was the first of four Newport mansions designed by Richard Morris Hunt. As the country's foremost architect in the late 19th century, Hunt drew inspiration for the 50-room limestone palace from late Gothic French architecture. Inside the house, Hunt utilized design elements from French renaissance chateaux and churches to create a three-story Great Hall, from which radiate impressive ground floor reception rooms such as a dining room, ballroom, and library. Private upstairs family rooms were richly designed with imported antique fireplaces and lavish wall coverings. Hunt emphasized the Goelets' social position and their patronage of learning and the arts with exuberant decoration in classical ceiling paintings, royal heraldic devices, carved emblems and statues, and a rich collection of antique stained glass. Many of the furnishings were obtained through high-end dealers such as L. Alavoine, Jules Allard Fils, and L. Marcotte. Construction of the house officially spanned the years 1888 to 1891, but it appears that many smaller tasks of decorating the interior and completing the gardens continued well into the mid 1890s.

It was Robert Goelet's gift of Ochre Court to the Religious Sisters of Mercy in 1947 that established Salve Regina College.