Commissioned by Nevada silver heiress Theresa Fair Oelrichs in 1899, architect Stanford White modeled Rosecliff after the Grand Trianon, the garden retreat of French kings at Versailles. The house was completed in 1902, at a reported cost of $2.5 million.

"Tessie" and her husband purchased the property known as Rosecliff from the estate of historian and diplomat George Bancroft. An amateur horticulturist, Bancroft grew thousands of roses at Rosecliff and his gardens along the Cliff Walk were famous.

The house, its furnishings, and an endowment were donated to the Preservation Society by the last private owners in 1971.