WHEN THE FOUNDERS OF NEWPORT COUNTRY CLUB set out to build a clubhouse in the 1890s, they held a design competition, which, in a signal of the commission’s desirability, attracted more than 40 submissions from architects around the world. The winning entry was from an American in Paris, a young, socially connected architect of great promise, Whitney Warren. Having recently completed his studies at the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts, in France, the country club would be the first commission of what was to become an illustrious career. (Warren would later be on the team that designed New York’s Grand Central Terminal.) Drawing from his education in France, he designed the clubhouse in the manner of a French chateau, with symmetrical wings flanking a central pavilion. Situated on the course’s highest point, it is visible from every hole. As club president, Barclay Douglas Jr. says, “It’s like a diamond in a perfect setting.”
Richard Diedrich, author of The 19th Hole: Architecture of the Golf Clubhouse, agrees. “Newport is the most sensational example of an early clubhouse—it’s just outstanding,” he says.
That “sensational” architecture aside, and despite its rarefied history—a Gilded Age club founded by the likes of the Vanderbilts, Astors, and Havemeyers—by the time the clubhouse reached 100 years old, it was showing signs of age. As Douglas remembers, &l