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This circa 1920s photo provided by The Preservation Society of Newport County shows footmen on the front stairs of The Elms, a mansion in Newport, R.I. Newly discovered photographs, documents and family histories have inspired the creation of a tour about servants at The Elms, echoing themes of the British drama program, "Downton Abbey." (AP Photo/The Preservation Society of Newport County)

This circa 1920s photo provided by The Preservation Society of Newport County shows footmen on the front stairs of The Elms, a mansion in Newport, R.I. Newly discovered photographs, documents and family histories have inspired the creation of a tour about servants at The Elms, echoing themes of the British drama program, "Downton Abbey." (AP Photo/The Preservation Society of Newport County)

America's Downton Abbey

February 15, 2013

The wild stateside success of the British period drama about

post-Edwardian aristocrats and their live-in help has piqued interest in

the life of servants in the Gilded Age mansions of the seaside city.

The nation's wealthiest families built Newport "cottages" in the 19th

and early 20th centuries and would move their households here —servants,

silver and all — from New York and elsewhere in the summer to enjoy the

ocean breezes and society scene.