History Bytes: Allene Tew of Beechwood

March 23, 2021

Photograph of Allene Tew by an unknown photographer, circa 1890. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Beechwood mansion on Bellevue Avenue is best known for having been the summer home of Mrs. William Backhouse Astor, Gilded Age Queen of New York and Newport Society. Over time, Beechwood has had several lesser known, but colorful owners, including Allene Tew.

Allene Tew (1872-1955) was the daughter of Charles Henry Tew, a prominent banker from Jamestown, NY and a descendant of the Tew family of Newport and Middletown, RI.

Allene appears to have had a discerning eye and a taste for high society which led her to marry several times. Her first husband was Theodore R. Hostetter of Pittsburgh and Narragansett Pier, RI. Theodore was a notorious sportsman and gambler. He served as the first commodore of the Conanicut Yacht Club in Jamestown, RI. This marriage did not last, and Allene entered into three more marriages including one with Prince Heinrich Reuss of Kostritz, one time heir to the crown of the Netherlands. She finally settled down with Count Paul Ravel de Kotzebue of Ukraine and became Countess de Kotzebue.

Count and Countess de Kotzebue set their sights on Newport in 1940 and purchased the Beechwood mansion from Vincent Astor of New York and Newport. They sold it in 1952 to James Cameron Clark, heir to the Clark sewing thread fortune.

After leaving Beechwood, Allene and her husband divided their time between New York, Paris and a Newport apartment in The Waves mansion on Ledge Road. Allene died in France in 1955, leaving an estate of $20,113,000. The Count survived her by 11 years.


Banner: Photograph of Beechwood, circa 1900. P97, Collection of the Newport Historical Society.