America's Downton Abbey

Associated Press
FILE - This Nov. 19, 2010 file photo shows the Elms mansion as seen through an opening in an iron fence, 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/Steven Senne, File)

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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.

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