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History of Newport and the Mansions
Founded in 1639, Newport was an important port city, a center of the slave trade, a fashionable resort and the summer home of the Gilded Age rich.
Explore the Gilded Age
The Gilded Age was a period of unprecedented change in America. Fortunes were spent on luxuries such as the lavish "summer cottages" of Newport.
Episode Deep Dive
Learn about the people, places and events depicted in Julian Fellowes' popular historical drama series.
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“Downton Abbey” creator Julian Fellowes chose the Newport Mansions to provide authentic scenery for his historical drama The Gilded Age. Scenes for Seasons 1 were filmed at The Breakers, Marble House, The Elms, Rosecliff, Chateau-sur-Mer and Hunter House. In 2022, scenes for the upcoming Season 2 were filmed at Marble House, The Elms, Chateau-sur-Mer and Kingscote.
Set in the 1880s, “The Gilded Age” tells the stories of “old money” New York elites and their escalating feud with nouveau riche neighbors who threaten the established social order.
Throughout Season 1 of “The Gilded Age”, Consuelo Vanderbilt’s bedroom at Marble House stands in for railroad tycoon George Russell’s bedroom in his new Fifth Avenue mansion. The Billiard Room at The Breakers is where Russell intrigues with City Alderman Patrick Morris over a game in Episode 2. And The Breakers Music Room is shown in several episodes as the Russells’ spectacular new ballroom.
The kitchen at The Elms is seen frequently as the Russells’ kitchen where their chef, butler and other servants work. At Chateau-sur-Mer, the Butternut Bedroom is used for the apartment of man-about-town Oscar van Rhijn, while other rooms represent the bedrooms of Agnes van Rhijn, Alderman Morris and his wife, Anne.
In Episodes 5, 6 and 9, we see Mrs. Berwind’s Bedroom in The Elms as the room of the Russells’ daughter, Gladys. Interiors of Chateau-sur-Mer appear as the home of Mrs. Fish, with the three-story Great Hall and Dining Room shown during the doll tea party in Episode 6.
In Episode 7, The Breakers Music Room, as the Russell family’s ballroom, stuns the visiting Carrie Astor. And the white front façade of Rosecliff is striking as Mrs. Chamberlain’s house in Manhattan.
In Episode 8, The Breakers Music Room gets extended camera time during a quadrille practice session for Gladys’ debutante ball in New York, and the observant viewer will catch glimpses of The Breakers Morning Room in the background. Later in this episode, when the action shifts to Newport, the character John Adams mentions he is staying at Chateau-sur-Mer with the Wetmores. However, Chateau-sur-Mer itself appears instead as the exterior of Mrs. Astor’s newly built Beechwood, while the kitchen Mrs. Russell hastily exits through belongs to Marble House.
The Season 1 finale of “The Gilded Age” features a starring role for The Breakers Music Room as the ballroom where the elite of New York society gathers for the Russells’ first ball in their Fifth Avenue mansion. The room’s French baroque design, blue-gray marble, crystal chandeliers, mirrors, and rich red and gold fabrics enhance the glamour of the scene. The Music Room was constructed in France by Allard & Sons, then disassembled, shipped to Newport and reassembled inside The Breakers.
Other spaces in the Newport Mansions directly inspired the sets created by The Gilded Age Production Designer Bob Shaw. Bertha Russell’s room is modeled after Alva Vanderbilt’s bedroom in Marble House, while the Marble House grand staircase with its ornate wrought-iron railing influenced its counterpart in the Russells’ mansion.
The Gilded Age also draws upon the history and real-life people of the period. The parallels between the character Bertha Russell and Alva Vanderbilt of Marble House are striking. Alva famously manipulated the queen of New York society, Caroline Schermerhorn Astor, into attending her gala costume ball by refusing to invite Mrs. Astor’s daughter unless Mrs. Astor called upon her. Mrs. Astor called; the Astors then attended the Vanderbilt ball; and Alva secured her place in society. This true story is lifted from history in “The Gilded Age”, where Bertha Russell uses the same strategy.
See these magnificently preserved Gilded Age places in person!
As we await Season 2 of “The Gilded Age”, please continue to visit this page for more content related to the show, as well as interesting facts about the Gilded Age period in American history.
In 1882, Marian arrives at the home of her “old money” aunts Agnes and Ada, whose new neighbors vie to break into New York high society.
Marian receives a visit from Tom Raikes, whose legal advice Peggy seeks. The Russells take center stage at a charity bazaar.
George faces a surprise development. Marian sees Mr. Raikes against Agnes’ wishes. Ada runs into an old friend. Peggy gets an opportunity.
Marian learns more about Mrs. Chamberlain. George makes a deal to benefit Bertha. Peggy meets a trailblazing newspaperman.
Bertha, Marian, Aurora, and Peggy make an overnight trip to see Clara Barton speak. Gladys’ desired beau is invited to dinner.
Mr. McAllister’s visit to the Russells shakes the aunts’ household. George aims to control the narrative. Marian considers her feelings.
As a historic moment captures the city, Agnes vows to protect her family’s reputation, while Larry’s career plans rub George the wrong way.
Peggy reveals the truth about her past, while George’s day in court arrives, and Marian considers her romantic future.
Marian’s grand plan is threatened. Bertha and Mrs. Astor lock horns over Gladys’ debut. Peggy is stunned by a major reveal.
Carrie Coon, who plays Bertha Russell in The Gilded Age, explains how the Newport Mansions inspired the look of her character’s palatial new Fifth Avenue home in this fascinating look behind the scenes. Watch the video
Fans of HBO’s The Gilded Age will love this guided tour of locations in the Newport Mansions where the show was filmed.
Tickets on sale May 1, 2023
Parking is free onsite at all properties except for Hunter House and The Breakers Stable & Carriage House, where street parking is available.
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