News & Opinion | January 22, 2018 5:00 am

Are the Vanderbilt Heirs Being Kicked Out of the Breakers?

Gladys and Paul Szápáry will no longer occupy a third-floor apartment of the Gilded Age mansion.

Vanderbilt
The Breakers, 1893, Vanderbilt mansion, di Richard Morris Hunt (1827-1895), Newport, Rhode Island, United States of America. (DeAgostini/Getty Images)

The Breakers is a 70-room Gilded Age mansion built by Cornelius Vanderbilt II in 1893. Vanderbilt heirs have lived there for years, but soon, Paul Szápáry, 67, won’t be living there anymore. “The residential occupancy of the Vanderbilt family apartment on the third floor by Paul and Gladys Szápáry, the children of Countess Anthony Szápáry, has … been voluntarily discontinued,” said an announcement by the Preservation Society of Newport County, which owns and operates 11 historic properties according to Town & Country. The Szápárys have spent summers at the Newport “cottage” since birth, just like other Vanderbilt generations. The Preservation Society bought the Breakers from Countess Gladys Széchenyi’s heirs after she died in 1998. The house includes eight bedrooms and a living room with a view of the ocean. It was decorated by famed architect and designer Ogden Codman, Jr. There was no formal lease involved, but the arrangement between Paul Szápáry and the Society allowed him and his family to live on the upper floor. But now, a year-long study by “a preservation architect and an engineer concluded that the ventilation, electrical, and plumbing systems, while completely safe for museum use, were dangerously outdated for residential use, putting the structure and collections at risk,” this week’s announcement said. However, Harlem-based historic preservationist Michael Henry Adams thinks there is another reason they are being evicted: the Szápárys opposition of the Breakers Welcome Center. Other family members, including Gloria Vanderbilt, opposed this as well. Adams agrees with the family and does not think that the welcome center should be on the grounds of the historic landmark.