A historic oceanfront property in Newport, Rhode Island, known as Land’s End, is currently up for sale for $11.7 million. Built in 1864 for Boston banker Samuel Gray Ward, the sprawling 11,000-square-foot home is perhaps better known as the former estate of novelist and playwright Edith Wharton, who lived there for about a decade with her then-husband, Edward Robbins Wharton.
The property spans 5.6 acres and includes several structures. In addition to the main home, there is an eight-car garage that a later owner, socialite Marion “Oatsie” Charles, converted into a smaller home known as the Whim. (This home is not included in the listing, but the current owners are open to parting with it.) Edith and her husband purchased the home in 1893 for $80,000, or about $2.3 million in today’s dollars, reports The Wall Street Journal. The main house includes nine bedrooms, with a mixture of fine detailing and chintz that have stood the test of time.
It should be noted that Edith revamped much of the home to be less showy with the help of her pal Ogden Codman Jr. She wrote in her autobiography that she found the home as she had purchased it to be “an ugly wooden house with half an acre of rock and illimitable miles of Atlantic Ocean,” and that the famous architect and interior designer agreed with her. “Codman shared my dislike of these sumptuary excesses, and thought as I did that interior decoration should be simple and architectural,” she wrote. After their renovations to Land’s End, she and Codman would go on to cowrite her first book, The Decoration of Houses.
Today, the front hall of the home is welcoming and light-filled, with an elegant, wide marble staircase anchoring the double-height front entry hallway. A number of stone benches and original moldings are reportedly remnants of Edith’s time, while a towering hallway mirror is potentially a newer addition. The living room parlor announces the house as a “family home,” with comfortable, patterned couches, a stately wood-burning fireplace, buttercream walls, and floor-to-ceiling French doors with an ocean view.
Other rooms of note include the butler’s pantry, where tall glass-fronted cabinets hold cups, plates, and bowls on display; a formal dining room with a peach-color ceiling and parquet hardwood floors; a wooden bar accessible through a Dutch door; and, uniquely, a room dedicated to cutting flowers picked from the garden. There is also a saltwater pool out back. The iconic home is being sold by current owners Joe and Victoria Leiter Mele (the daughter of the aforementioned previous owner and socialite Charles).
Edith’s summers in Newport helped to inform much of her writing, most notably her famous work, The Age of Innocence, in which she describes the wealthy, quintessentially American vacation town.