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Season 2/Episode 2, “Some Sort of Trick”

Kingscote makes its debut as the home of widow Blane, with whom Larry starts an affair. Peggy is welcomed back to the van Rhijn house by almost everyone. Oscar's hopes are dashed, while Marian fends off a suitor.

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In this Episode…

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☞ Kingscote appears for the first time in “The Gilded Age” as the Newport home of Susan Blane, the widow who hires Larry Russell as architect to remodel the house. They agree the rooms are too small and the décor “drab” and “dreary,” reflecting how tastes have changed by 1883 (Kingscote was originally built in 1841).

☞  During filming, Kingscote was still its pale gray color, before its repainting this year to a darker color in keeping with historical paint analysis.

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☞  The Elms does double duty as the Russells’ homes in New York and Newport. While they are in New York, we see George Russell walk in The Elms’ second-floor hallway, with its distinctive red wall covering, to daughter Gladys’ bedroom, which is the real Mrs. Berwind’s bedroom.

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☞ Later, The Elms’ first-floor foyer and cross hall, Drawing Room and (for the first time) Conservatory appear as their Newport home.

☞  George Russell’s assistant Richard Clay seems to be based on Henry Clay Frick (1849-1919), an anti-unionist who was in charge of Carnegie Steel Corporation’s operations. Frick later established the art collection in New York bearing his name.

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☞  Founded in 1876, the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers is one of the unions that would join to become United Steelworkers in the 20th century.

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☞ Oscar Van Rhijn’s offhand remark to Maud Beaton, “Oh, I love the Drexels,” may be a nod to Harry Symes Lehr (1869-1929), a popular socialite known as “America’s court jester” who married Elizabeth Wharton Drexel (1868-1944), whose 1905 portrait by Giovanni Boldini hangs in The Elms. As gay men, both Oscar and Lehr pursued marriages of convenience to maintain their standings in society. Oscar and Maud could be referring to one of several Drexel siblings and cousins in Gilded Age society.

☞  Dashiell Montgomery bets $50 on Dick Sears winning the lawn tennis tournament; this would be the equivalent of more than $1,500 in today’s dollars.

☞  The United States Lawn Tennis Association began holding its tournaments at the Newport Casino in 1881. This tournament was the precursor to what is now the U.S. Open. Richard Sears (1861-1943), nicknamed “Dick” in this episode, won the tournament every year from 1881 to 1887.

☞  Peggy’s trips between Brooklyn and Manhattan would have involved a ferry until around this time; the Brooklyn Bridge opened in May 1883.

☞  Rumors surround new character Maud Beaton as possibly the illegitimate daughter of Jay Gould. While there does not seem to be historical speculation about illegitimate children of Jason “Jay” Gould (1836-1892), his son George Jay Gould (1864-1923) did have three children with his mistress, whom he later married, in the 1910s and 1920s.

☞  The Wetmores of Chateau-sur-Mer have brought Gladys to the tournament; while unseen, previously they had hosted the character John Adams in Season 1, Episode 8. At this time, George Peabody Wetmore (1846-1921) was about to go into politics. He and his wife, Edith Keteltas Wetmore (1848-1927), had four children by 1883: Edith, Maude, William and Rogers. Decades later, Edith and Maude would be among the founders of the Preservation Society of Newport County.

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