top of page

Mansions to museums—the end of the Gilded Age and the beginnings of the modern preservation movement

The Breakers, Newport, Rhode Island

The Gilded Age in the United States generally referred to the post-Civil War period from the 1870s to the turn of the 20th century, when vast industrial fortunes led to lavish lifestyles for those relatively families. Newport, Rhode Island came to be seen as the most fashionable resort for many wealthy industrialists, with such “summer cottages” as The Breakers, Marble House, Rosecliff, The Elms, and others. Eventually, as Henry Flagler extended the railroad down the Atlantic coast of Florida, St. Augustine became a winter destination with the opening in

1888 of the Ponce de Leon Hotel (now Flagler College), before the winter resorts farther south at Palm Beach, Miami Beach, and the Florida Keys became popular. In addition to the architectural extravagance, the Gilded Age also saw the development of elaborate social customs, etiquettes, and rules.

But what transformed the economic and social dynamics that effectively brought the Gilded Age to an end? And what became of those summer cottages? Many were demolished, others were preserved as historic house museums in the early days of US efforts in historic preservation, and yet still a few of them are still available for sale as private homes today. Follow the links below for more information.


Opulence and Excesses of the Gilded Age

By Cheryl Adams Richkoff


Accessed July 18, 2017

Why did Gilded Age mansions lose their luster?

By Robert Khederian


September 28, 2017

Reconstruction and the Gilded Age: How technology and capitalism shaped America after the Civil War

[Review of The Republic for Which It Stands: The United States During Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, 1865-1896, by Richard White, Oxford University Press, October 2017]

By The Ecocnomist

August 24, 2017

The architects who built Gilded Age NYC are having a real estate revival

By Zachary Kussin

New York Post

September 20, 2017

Three Gilded Age mansions for sale right now: from Newport to New York City

By Robert Khederian


August 10, 2017

bottom of page