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Drexel daughter shares memories of Stonor Lodge

An aerial photo of Stonor Lodge in Newport. The mansion was destroyed in a fire, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016. (Courtesy Tyler Hughes)

Stonor Lodge on Newport's famed Bellevue Avenue fit right it to its elite surroundings.

It was unique because while the Rockefellers and Vanderbilts of New York used to summer in the area, this home belonged to a Newport family for generations.

The mansion had visitors as famous as the Kennedys. It was the place where Jacqueline Bouvier went to get away from all the commotion on the eve of her Newport society wedding to John F. Kennedy.

Stonor Lodge was owned for generations by the Drexel family. Nonie Drexel sold the house in 2012.

The estate was destroyed Thursday night in a fire.

"It's so sad to think that - it's gone. It's so sad," Drexel said Thursday night.

Drexel now lives in Scotland, where NBC 10 News reached her by phone. She recalled growing up in the home and says despite its size, she never thought of it as a mansion.

"It was a really fun, happy place. Honestly, it wasn't grand. Like, it rambled. You went from room to room to room," she said.

Several nearby homes, including Cannon Hill and Chateau-sur-Mer, were owned by relatives. The property was originally called the Mayfield Cottage and was built around 1870. That home caught fire in 1916. The Stonors bought it and construction began on what it became recently.

"It had been put together with so many additions. It would have been a nightmare for a home decorator, but for a child growing up, it had all these nooks and crannies. It was a magical place," Drexel said.

The magic stayed in the family until the estate was sold in 2012. Drexel remembers the Kennedys and the Pells spending a lot of time at Stonor Lodge -- a true Newport icon.

"It was home. It didn't feel like it was on Bellevue Avenue," Drexel said.

While Nonie Drexel lives in Scotland, she owns a home in the area and her children and other family members are still in Rhode Island.

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