Opulence, corruption, shady deals, sound familiar? Perhaps it’s a descriptor for an episode of Julian Fellowes’ award-winning series, Downton Abbey? You would be close if that was your guess. However, we’re describing late, 19th-century America, often referred to as the “Gilded Age”. A prosperous time in our nation’s history, but not one without controversy. Some historians, kindly call the period, “America’s formative years”.
“Creative Living” host, Jane Monzures, travels to Newport, Rhode Island to explore life as it was in the 19th Century. To get her up-to-speed on local landmarks, Evan Smith from Discover Newport stopped by with insight into this coastal city.
Through the help of our friends from The Preservation Society of Newport County, Jane learned about the important power players hailing from the “City by the Sea”.
The “Gilded Age”, which was made famous in “Downton Abbey,” refers to the period from the late 1860’s to 1896. It’s a time when the American economy grew at its fastest rate in history. With that growth, came enormous wealth. We’ll show you how this time period produced some of the most opulent estate houses in the United States and Europe.
At the Newport mansions, you’ll be able to explore 250 years of American history. As you’ll see the diversity of architecture and design reaches all the way back to before the American Revolution.
Another property on the Preservation Society’s tour is Marble House. This lovely home is where the Vanderbilt’s spent their summers. However, before Newport became known as a city where wealthy people ‘summered’, it was the seedbed for religious and ethnic tolerance in America. Jane found out how the women’s suffrage movement can trace its roots back to Newport.