For any television show, there’s plenty of work that needs to be done to make sure the filming locations look both impressive and appropriate. But for a period piece like The Gilded Age, that can be even more challenging. Thanks to expert location manager, Lauri Pitkus, The Gilded Age is filmed in several incredible historical landmarks.
So, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most notable historical landmarks seen in The Gilded Age. Some are, of course, disguised to be other things, but many of these landmarks look almost exactly the same as they did 150 years ago. So here are just some of the historical landmarks seen in The Gilded Age.
The Bethesda Fountain
Perhaps the most recognizable landmark comes in Episode 2 when Marian Brook meets with the suspicious, yet charming lawyer, Tom Raikes. They meet in front of the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park in Manhattan, one of the most well-known historical landmarks that’s still standing.
The Central Troy Historic District
Production of The Gilded Age took over the central square in Troy, N.Y. along 2nd and 3rd Streets and close to Washington Park. “To me, Troy is the most exciting thing to see in The Gilded Age,” Lauri explained to Condé Nast Traveler.
“We selected four to five blocks that we dressed. We had the cooperation of every store owner and we refaced all the buildings with our signage and it was pretty spectacular. The architecture is there so we could have long-lens shots from the areas where we dressed and in the background, you can see the continuation of 1850s row houses.”
Production had to cover the area in dirt to make it period-appropriate, which Lauri called “Operation Desert Gilded.” The area itself is seen in Episode 4 during Marian and Peggy Scott’s shopping trip, as well as in Episode 3 when they visit the Statue of Liberty’s hand.
Within Troy, several locations were used as the opulent mansions seen in The Gilded Age, but the most famous is called The Castle, which is used as Aurora Fane's house. According to Lauri, “The Fane house is particularly famous in Troy — it’s The Castle, it was built in the 1890s and was called the John Paine Mansion, and it has a really eclectic style.” The Castle is open to the public and available to visit.
Perhaps one of the most, if not the most, famous mansions in Newport, R.I., the Breakers is also part of the set in The Gilded Age. Originally built for the Vanderbilts, the Breakers’ Great Hall and Music Room have been fittingly repurposed to be the Russells’ ballroom. Of course, we wish the entire Russells’ mansion on Fifth Avenue could be real, but alas, its only reality is the ballroom.
The Marble House
Another Newport mansion, the Marble House is featured in the show. Consuelo Vanderbilt’s bedroom doubles as George Russell’s bedroom in The Gilded Age. Thanks to the Preservation Society of Newport County, all the mansions used in The Gilded Age are not only perfectly preserved but also available to visit.
Really, it’s worth taking a trip to Newport to see the extravagance of old America. The facade of Rosecliff, designed by famed architectural firm McKim, Mead, and White, serves as the outside of Mrs. Chamberlain’s house.
Every mansion in Newport has something to offer The Gilded Age, including the Elms. More bits and pieces are used of this residence — the kitchens and Sarah Berwind’s bedroom — as parts of the Russell mansion.
Perhaps the most famous Newport mansion aside from the Breakers, the exterior of Château-sur-Mer is used as Mrs. Astor’s Beechwood House. Lauri revealed, “We also shot the interior of the boarding house where Oscar van Rhijn has a tête à tête, and Agnes’s bedroom is there too. We also did a dining room scene there.”
In Episode 1, one of the most memorable scenes is at Mrs. Fish’s clifftop mansion. This actually takes place in Newport at the Ledges, which was the original summer home of the Cushing family. It's still owned by the family today, and they still rent out the home.
The Gilded Age production travels from Newport to Westchester, N.Y. The exterior of the Lyndhurst Mansion in Tarrytown, which is open to the public as a historical landmark, is used as Aurora Fane’s house. There are also scenes filmed in the mansion’s stained glass-dominated reception room and its dining room. Funnily enough, it’s known as robber baron Jay Gould’s home. He could be the inspiration for George Russell.
A few other homes in Westchester, N.Y. are used as filming locations, including the Belvedere Estate in Tarrytown and Glenview Mansion in Yonkers. The Edith Macy Conference Center in Briarcliff Manor, Sleepy Hollow Country Club, and even Pace University in Pleasantville were also used to portray different elements of The Gilded Age.
Finally, The Gilded Age crew traveled out to Long Island, N.Y. to take advantage of one of its most extravagant mansions, the Hempstead House. The house originally belonged to Jay Gould’s son, Howard Gould, and was later passed onto art moguls the Guggenheims. The interior of the Hempstead House is used as George Russell’s workspace.
If taking part in the riches of The Gilded Age tickles one’s fancy, it’s time for a romp around the northeast United States, where many of these gems can still be found today.
New episodes of The Gilded Age air every Monday at 9 p.m. EST on HBO.