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High court steps into fight on Vanderbilts' Breakers mansion

Rhode Island's highest court has heard arguments in a fight that has pitted dozens of members of the Vanderbilt family against a nonprofit that owns several Gilded Age mansions in Newport.

The nonprofit wants to build a visitors center on the grounds of the spectacular Vanderbilt mansion The Breakers, a national historic landmark.

Opponents include designer Gloria Vanderbilt and nearly four dozen other members of the Vanderbilt family, as well as dozens of preservationists. They say the plan would "permanently mar this national symbol of Newport's Gilded Age."

The arguments before the Rhode Island Supreme Court on Tuesday involved zoning and licensing issues raised by neighbors and the city.

The mansion's owner, the Preservation Society of Newport County, wants to build the visitors center to better serve its 400,000 annual visitors.

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