America's Downton Abbey

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.

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)
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)
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)
This undated photo provided by The Preservation Society of Newport County shows Grace Rhodes Birch, left, a cook at The Elms mansion in Newport, R.I., with her husband Ernest Birch, the mansion's butler. The couple married in 1918. 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 undated photo provided by The Preservation Society of Newport County shows Grace Rhodes Birch, left, a cook at The Elms mansion in Newport, R.I., with her husband Ernest Birch, the mansion's butler. The couple married in 1918. 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 undated photo provided by The Preservation Society of Newport County shows Grace Rhodes Birch, left, a cook at The Elms mansion in Newport, R.I., with her husband Ernest Birch, the mansion's butler. The couple married in 1918. 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)
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)
This circa 1920s photo provided by The Preservation Society of Newport County shows butler Ernest Birch, center, surrounded by footmen next to the terrace of The Elms 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 butler Ernest Birch, center, surrounded by footmen next to the terrace of The Elms 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 butler Ernest Birch, center, surrounded by footmen next to the terrace of The Elms 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 1940s photo provided by The Preservation Society of Newport County shows maid Nellie Lynch on the roof outside the servants' quarters of The Elms 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 1940s photo provided by The Preservation Society of Newport County shows maid Nellie Lynch on the roof outside the servants' quarters of The Elms 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 1940s photo provided by The Preservation Society of Newport County shows maid Nellie Lynch on the roof outside the servants' quarters of The Elms 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)
Tourists walk through the Great Hall at The Breakers mansion in Newport, R.I., Tuesday, March 24, 2009. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)
Newport mansions
Tourists walk through the Great Hall at The Breakers mansion in Newport, R.I., Tuesday, March 24, 2009. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)
This undated photo released by the Preservation Society of Newport County shows an exterior view of the mansion built by the Vanderbilt family as a summer "cottage," in Newport, R.I. called the Breakers. (AP Photo/Patrick O?Connor,The Preservation Society of Newport County)
Newport mansions
This undated photo released by the Preservation Society of Newport County shows an exterior view of the mansion built by the Vanderbilt family as a summer "cottage," in Newport, R.I. called the Breakers. (AP Photo/Patrick O?Connor,The Preservation Society of Newport County)

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