During the American Gilded Age (around the turn of the 20th century), many of the wealthiest industrialists used the construction of elaborate estates (or "cottages") to conspicuously display their wealth. Basing the architectural exterior and interior designs on examples from European aristocracy, the architects of these homes imported numerous architectural elements, including whole rooms or wings of European estates, to reconstruct in their American versions. The mansions in Newport, Rhode Island, offer numerous examples. Today, this practice continues, but has extended to stripping architectural elements and supplies from more modest homes in France's smaller villages and towns.
Stripped Village Homes Expose a Hollowing Out of France's Heritage
By Alissa J. Rubin
The New York Times
April 16, 2017