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May 06, 2015

Vanderbilt Heirs Blast Nonprofit's Plan for R.I. Mansion

The Vanderbilt family is calling on the nonprofit that owns the Breakers, the clan's historic former home in Newport, R.I., to drop plans to build a visitors center on the mansion's seaside grounds, the Associated Press reports.

Twenty-one relatives signed a letter to the Preservation Society of Newport County saying the proposal would degrade the Gilded Age property and threatened to withhold gifts of money or Vanderbilt objects to the society unless it changed its "current leadership climate."

The society bought the property from the Vanderbilts in the 1970s and operates the 70-room home and other Newport mansions as museums. The charity says the new center is necessary to provide better amenities, such as food service and upgraded restrooms, to the hundreds of thousands of annual visitors to the Breakers, which has been termed America's Downton Abbey. Local zoning officials approved the project in January. Family members want the center built elsewhere in Newport.