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Visitors Center at “The Breakers” Causes Feud, Elder Law Attorney, Woodstock, GA


When nonprofit organizations assume ownership of historical estates, conflicts often arise between the nonprofits and the descendants of those who used to live at the estate. This is the case with a current feud over the Vanderbilts’ estate.

The historical estate of the Vanderbilts named “The Breakers” is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the state of Rhode Island. Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit it yearly.

It is currently owned and maintained by the nonprofit Preservation Society of Newport that proposes to build a visitors center on a currently empty portion of the estate to accommodate the tourists.

However, the descendants of the Vanderbilts are opposed to the idea.

Some 21 have come out publicly to denounce the plans. This feud even caused the cancelation of Vanderbilt descendant Anderson Cooper’s scheduled speech at the estate last year.

Fox Business reported this story in a recent article titled “Spat over Vanderbilt mansion gets nasty; even descendant Anderson Cooper isn’t spared.”

It is unclear whether the Vanderbilt descendants have any recourse here other than hoping their public opposition persuades the Preservation Society of Newport to change its plans to build the visitors center.

If the society obtained the estate in trust and building the visitors center would potentially violate the trust, then the descendants might have legal recourse. So far reports on this story do not indicate that is a possibility here.

Reference: Fox Business (June 22, 2015) “Spat over Vanderbilt mansion gets nasty; even descendant Anderson Cooper isn’t spared.”

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