A staircase inside a house.

Preservation Society’s Gilded Age Lecture Series

A wide range of topics, from television production to dressmaking to cocktails to music, will be explored in the winter edition of The Preservation Society of Newport County’s ongoing Gilded Age Lecture Series.

The series examines all aspects of the American Gilded Age, a period of great change and innovation that spans roughly 1870-1910 – a time when the grandest of the Preservation Society’s historic houses were built, including The Breakers, Marble House, The Elms and Rosecliff.

Tickets for each lecture cost $20 for in-person attendance, or $15 for Preservation Society members. Zoom registration costs $10 for members and non-members. For more information and a link to buy tickets, go to

Here is the lineup for the Winter Gilded Age Lecture Series:

• Thursday, January 26, 6 p.m.: “’On Location From …’ HBO and ‘The Gilded Age’”

Live at Marble House and via Zoom

Many scenes for Julian Fellowes’ popular historical drama “The Gilded Age” were filmed in the Newport Mansions and elsewhere in the City-by-the-Sea. But other historic sites also hosted the HBO production. A panel of representatives from three such institutions will discuss the show’s impact and what makes their places special: Laura Vookles, chair of the Curatorial Department at the Hudson River Museum; Emma Gencarelli, Film, Photography & Collections Coordinator at Lyndhurst, the Jay Gould mansion in Tarrytown, N.Y.; and Kathryn Sheehan, interim executive director of the Hart Cluett Museum in Troy, N.Y., and historian for Rensselaer County and Troy since 2006.

• Thursday, February 9, 6 p.m.: “Fashioning America: African American Designers and Dressmakers”

Live at Marble House and via Zoom

Who were the designers and dressmakers who skillfully created garments for privileged Newporters in the past? We will learn about a Newport-based dressmaker from the Gilded Age as well as the designer of Jackie Kennedy’s wedding dress. Our two expert panelists include: Theresa Guzmán Stokes, President of the 1696 Heritage Group and Executive Director of the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society; and Elaine Nichols, Supervisory Curator of Culture at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

• Thursday, February 23, 6 p.m.: “’I’ll Have Another’ – Cocktail Culture in the Gilded Age”

Live at Marble House and via Zoom

The Gilded Age was also the “Golden Age of Cocktails,” when discriminating palates discovered the delights of new concoctions that became the classic cocktails of today, including the Martini, the Manhattan and the Old-Fashioned. Sharing a taste of this entertaining topic will be Cecelia Tichi, author of “Gilded Age Cocktails” and the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of English Emerita at Vanderbilt University.

• Thursday, March 2, 6 p.m.: “Gilded Age Orchestra of Newport”

Live at The Breakers and via Zoom

Step back in time to experience live music the Gilded Age way, played by many of the actual musicians who performed on “The Gilded Age” show. Two authorities on music of the period will provide the historical background and conduct the music: Dr. Christopher Brellochs of SUNY Schenectady and Vassar College, who appeared as composer/conductor John Knowles Paine in the HBO series; and Dr. Mark A. Stickney, the Artistic Director of the Seacoast Wind Ensemble and founder of the nonprofit Historic Music of Newport.

The Preservation Society of Newport County, Rhode Island, is a nonprofit organization accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. It is dedicated to preserving and interpreting the area’s historic architecture, landscapes, decorative arts and social history. Its 11 historic properties – seven of them National Historic Landmarks – span more than 250 years of American architectural and social development.

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