Ochre Court was commissioned by Ogden Goelet, who was a wealthy New York banker and developer. It was designed by Richard Morris Hunt and was constructed from 1888-1891. In 1947 Robert, Ogden’s son, donated Ochre Court to Salve Regina University. Today Salve Regina uses Ochre Court to house their administrative offices.
Ochre Court was designed by Richard Morris Hunt. Construction of the summer home lasted from 1888-1891 and was commissioned by Ogden Goelet, a wealthy New York banker and developer as well as an avid yachtsmen. Ochre Court is the second largest mansion in Newport at approximately sixty-thousand square feet. Architect Richard Morris Hunt designed the French chateau mansion after the chateaux of the Loire Valley in France with its high roofs and intricate dormers. James Sinclair and Company used Blue Indian Limestone to complete all the exterior stonework of Ochre Court. The first floor consisted of a Rococo-style ballroom, conservatory, library, drawing room and dining room. The floor plan of the mansion is centered around the great hall which extends to the third floor, and with massive glass windows overlooking the Atlantic. The hall features limestone carvings and gilded woodwork carved by a New York firm Ellin, Kitson, and Company. At the time of its completion Ochre Court was the largest of the Newport mansions, although this title was short lived as Cornelius Vanderbilt II’s The Breakers was constructed shortly after. Even though Newport streets had been electrified since 1882, Ochre Court was the first fully electrified mansion utilizing its own generator. To lite the grounds it would take 1,200 lamps where Newport had about 200 lamps in the whole city.
Ochre Court had a short life under the ownership of the Goelet family; in 1897, while sailing on his yacht Mayflower, Ogden suffered a fatal stroke. Ogden's widow Mary Wilson Goelet continued to summer in the house and at her death it passed to her son Robert. In 1947, Ogden’s son Robert donated the mansion to the Sisters of Mercy. The Sisters of Mercy were trying to start a Catholic college for women of any religion. Robert donated Ochre Court for them to start Salve Regina because he wanted the house to be beneficial to Rhode Island and especially to Newport. He had previously offered the house as a potential site in Newport's bid to be the host to the United Nations after World War II.
Salve Regina would be the first Catholic women’s college in the state as well as the first civilian college in Newport, since the Naval War College was the only one in Newport. Ochre Court made up the whole college at the start of Salve Regina University. The original 58 students lived on the third floor, attended classes on the second, studied and dined on the first, and snacked and purchased books in the basement. The eight Sisters of Mercy who made up the faculty established their own living area in the servants' quarters. Today Salve Regina uses Ochre Court to house their administrative offices and to have admission talks with prospective students. Also, functions for the students are held there throughout the school year.