There’s something positively Gatsby about Jay Leno’s oceanfront manor perched atop a rocky peninsula off the coast of Newport, Rhode Island. It is designed in the tradition of classic New England architecture from the Gilded Age—what F. Scott Fitzgerald may have described as a “colossal affair.” Boston Magazine described it as “jaw-dropping.” In Newport, is it known as one of the last cottages of the Gilded Age.
“I have to laugh every time I go to the house and the gate opens,” Jay Leno told Forbes, “because I feel like I’m in the opening of Downton Abbey.”
In terms of American nouveau riche of the ‘20s and ‘30s, it is an absolute castle: many of its ceilings decorated with antique chandeliers and crown molding. There’s a green marble fireplace near a large sitting room surrounded by giant glass doors that extend towards a view of the Atlantic ocean. It also has six-car garage that Leno absolutely refuses to fill, as the whirling salt air could damage his collection of vintage automobiles. In fact, Newport is often described as the birthplace of American auto racing. It is the home of the Audrain Automobile Museum.
The nine acre estate dubbed “Seafair” was designed in 1936 by architect James Mackenzie Jr. for Verner Zevola Reed Jr., a banker and mining heir. It was originally known as Terre Mare. Its 15,851-square-foot house is filled with 17 bathrooms, 14 bedrooms, French doors, humongous windows stretching towards ocean vistas, and a master bedroom with an ensuite that includes a tub that sits under a steel and crystal chandelier. One can imagine the interior—with its mid-toned wood floors and paneled library—covered with luxurious Persian rugs, French furniture, Chinese porcelain, European tapestries, vintage art, and antique books by Victorian-era writers.
The iconic Seafair landscape is surrounded by a private beach, manicured walled gardens, and hand-forged steel gate that leads up a winding path to the main house. There’s a glimmering, oceanfront swimming pool (perhaps marble, like something out of The Great Gatsby), carriage house, and tennis court. Leno added that it costs around $50,000 per month to maintain the property. Leno purchased Seafair in 2017. Taylor Swift owns an estate in Watch Hill, Rhode Island, which neighbors Newport.