Welcome center to open at mansion after long-running battle

June 13, 2018 - 12:14 pm

NEWPORT, R.I. (AP) — The group that owns The Breakers mansion in Rhode Island is opening a welcome center that has drawn strenuous opposition from neighbors, preservationists and many descendants of the Vanderbilt family.

The Preservation Society of Newport County is cutting the ribbon Thursday on the grounds of the National Historic Landmark in Newport. Cornelius Vanderbilt II built the mansion in the late 1800s.

The preservation society is expecting about 500 people and Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo.

Raimondo says she's thrilled to have a new, exciting way to welcome tourists to the mansions.

Opponents wanted it built across the street or elsewhere to leave the landscape unchanged.

Preservationist Ronald Lee Fleming, who lives near The Breakers, says he's still concerned about the visual impact.

The neighborhood association lost a lawsuit opposing the plan in 2015.