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June 23, 2015

Vanderbilts' Spat With Nonprofit Over R.I. Mansion Escalates

A dispute battle over the Breakers, the waterfront Newport, R.I., mansion that was home to the Vanderbilt family, has grown into a bitter public feud between members of the wealthy clan and the nonprofit that now owns the palatial house, writes the Associated Press.

The source of the spat is a proposal by the Preservation Society of Newport County to build a visitor center on the 13-acre grounds of the Breakers, a popular tourist attraction the Vanderbilts sold to the charity in 1972. Twenty-one heirs signed a letter last month objecting to the plan, which the family and some preservationists say would detract from the Gilded Age mansion's status as a National Historic Landmark.

In a written response, the head of the society's board said the occupancy of two Vanderbilt descendants who still summer in the house "can be ended at any time." A lawyer for the group threatened to sue a nonprofit to which the heirs belong that opposes the visitor center. Society leaders declined to answer questions about the possible eviction or legal action but in a statement rued that the debate over the center has become "personal and unpleasant."