A glimpse downstairs at America’s Downton Abbey

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Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2013 12:00 am

NEWPORT, R.I. — If the Crawley family of “Downton Abbey” were American, they’d summer at Newport.

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.

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