Preservation Society plans to close Vanderbilt family apartment at Newport mansion
By News Staff
NEWPORT, R.I. (WLNE) – The Preservation Society of Newport County (PSNC) announced plans Thursday to close the apartment owned and operated by descendants of the Vanderbilt family due to safety concerns.
A PSNC spokesman said that in an assessment of the integrity of The Breakers mansion, the PSNC instructed staff to inspect the reliability of the apartment on the mansion’s third floor’s plumbing and wiring, which has been in operation for over 100 years.
Inspectors found the historic building’s electrical, plumbing, and ventilation dangerously outdated for residential use, posing a risk to the structure and the collections within.
As a result the apartment, occupied by Paul and Gladys Szápáry, has been voluntarily vacated.
The former residents, children of the Countess Anthony Szápáry, are great-grandchildren of Cornelius Vanderbilt, who built The Breakers in 1895. The Countess’s mother, Gladys Széchenyi, first opened The Breakers to the public in 1948 to raise funds during the PSNC’s infancy.
After selling the Breakers to the PSNC in 1972, Countess Szápáry continued to live in the third floor apartment until her death in 1998, and her children have lived there in the years since.
Both Paul and Gladys Szápáry have been lifelong volunteers, serving on various PSNC committees and helping to raise funds for the society. “Their love for and dedication to The Breakers and to the heritage of the extended Vanderbilt family are recognized and deeply appreciated by the PSNC as The Breakers nears its 125th anniversary”, said PSNC.