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2. Tour a Second Empire Property

Your first stop is the Lockwood Matthews Mansion, on the National Register of Historic Places and often described as "one of the earliest and finest surviving Second Empire style country houses ever built in the United States". This 62- room mansion predates Newport's mansions by more than twenty years. Built in 1864 by LeGrand Lockwood, who made his fortune in banking and the railroad industry and designed by European-trained, New York-based architect Detlef Lienau, the house was completed in just four years. Many American and immigrant artisans put the finishing interior design touches on this opulent house. The estate was foreclosed in 1874 due to Lockwood's untimely death and financial reversals.

The property was sold to the Mathews in 1876 and the family resided in it until 1938. In 1941 the estate was sold to the City of Norwalk and designated a public park.

This beautiful property was almost demolished in the 1950's because it had fallen into disrepair but was saved by local preservationists. Today as you tour this Victorian gem with its exquisite details in exotic woods, grand rotunda, newly restored library, stylish dining room and the many sitting rooms replete with extraordinary paintings you experience a sense of Victorian romanticism and sophistication that pervades this elegant property.