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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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The design for the new railway station shown in the first scene shares many similarities to other transportation buildings of the era, including, Madison Square Garden and The Golden Door Transportation Building at the Chicago World’s Fair. They reflect the new age of large-scale architecture only possible with the new mode of steel-beam construction. The Breakers is an early example of the use of steel construction in a residential structure.
Broadway Omnibus was a common public transportation option at the time. There was an omnibus in Newport that ran from the downtown wharves and Thames Street to Easton’s Beach.
Bloomingdale Bros. became one of America’s largest department stores, with its origins in the Gilded Age. The first department store in Newport was in the historic Audrain building (1902) on Bellevue Avenue.
Mrs. Chamberlain’s house features artwork that was considered exceptionally “modern” at the time: Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, and a particular repetition of Edgar Degas, in both sculpture and painting.
Grinling Gibbons was a real Dutch sculptor born in the 17th century. His work was highly sought after as he was a master carver of wood. Salvaging the interiors of historic sites from Europe for wealthy Americans was a common practice. Mrs. Chamberlain’s collecting of his work foreshadows an even more aggressive movement in the early 20th century when whole rooms attributed to Gibbons would be cut out of buildings and transported across the Atlantic.
“Pumpkin” the spaniel: This was considered one of the most desirable breeds by elites for well over a century. The breed is featured in the Gilbert Stuart painting of “Dr. Hunter’s Spaniels” at Hunter House. Dr. William Hunter was a physician and apothecary who served as a surgeon in the Revolutionary War, though he was a supporter of the British Crown; he died in 1777.
The Elms kitchen is featured several times in the episode.
Table settings: the English way vs. Service a la Francais vs. Service a la Russe vs. the new American way. This was a true distinction of taste in the era as it employed different types of flatware, plates, serving dishes, serving styles and even furniture in the newly established, purpose-built dining room in such houses.
Ward McAllister’s 400, the list of social elites, is mentioned for the first time.
George “Jay” Gould (1864-1923) is mentioned by Mr. Russell as a major player in the railroad industry; however, he was never accepted into society, partially for the reasons the Russells encounter (new money) but also due to long-established antisemitism. The house he built at 857 Fifth Avenue eventually became the home of Alice Vanderbilt after she sold the palatial 1 West 57th Street.
Consuelo Vanderbilt’s bedroom in Marble House again is featured as Mr. Russell’s bedroom (see Episode 1).
The art collection of the Scott family has many romantic American landscapes. While none are immediately identifiable, one of the most well-known and Newport-connected African-American landscape artists of the Gilded Age period was Edward Bannister (1828-1901), who painted the shorelines of Rhode Island, including Newport. His works are in the collections of the Smithsonian and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He resided in Providence, R.I., with his wife.
Mrs. Henry Schermerhorn, who had a box at the Academy of Music in which Mr. Raikes was a guest, is not a real historical figure but the surname comes from a prominent and wealthy New York family. Edmund Henry Schermerhorn (1815-1891) was the original builder of Chepstow and cousin to Caroline Schermerhorn Astor, portrayed in the show.
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.
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.
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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