Location manager Lauri Pitkus spoke to PEOPLE about the spectacular sites where the show was shot and which historic mansions belong to the fictional families
By Mackenzie Schmidt
Published on November 19, 2023 02:00PM EST
PHOTO: ALISON COHEN ROSA/HBO
New York Robber barons and society dames provide the drama on season two of The Gilded Age but almost none of the show was filmed in the city.
Troy and Albany in Upstate New York often in for 1880s Manhattan, but many of the series’ most transcendent scenes are set in Newport, R.I.—the summer playground of the upper crust of the day.
The seaside town’s carefully preserved mansions, ironically dubbed “cottages” by their original owners, provided such rich period-appropriate sets, many of the show’s New York scenes were filmed there too, says location manager Lauri Pitkus.
"There's a big overlay of the New York and Newport locations," she explains. "Because we have these beautifully appointed, unique and original bedrooms to choose from, we shoot most of those in Newport and cheat them for existing in the New York houses."
Cynthia Nixon and Christine Baranski in 'The Gilded Age'. ALISON COHEN ROSA/HBO
The bedrooms of Patrician Agnes van Rhijn (Christine Baranski) is really in Chateau-sur-Mer and the cotillion of heiress Gladys Russell (Taissa Farmiga) was filmed in the Breakers.
Almost every set, which also include the landmark buildings the Elms, Marble House and the Newport Art Museum are open to the public to tour.
The New England town’s history and architecture have made it a filming hot spot for decades.
In The Great Gatsby (1974) The 1902 estate Rosecliff stood in for the mansions of
Long Island’s North Shore for Robert Redford’s Jay Gatsby. The 2012 Wes Anderson film Moonrise Kingdom (2012) was shot on and around Aquidneck Island, including at Trinity Church, which became St. Jack’s. And 1997's Amistad (1997), directed by Steven Spielberg, was shot in Washington Square and the Colony House, as well as in mansions on Bellevue Avenue.
This limestone mansion is the home of the newly wealthy Russells, including matriarch Bertha (Carrie Coon), pictured below with her confident Ward McAllister (Nathan Lane). The show edits the exterior to make it appear to be on the water, but it’s really landlocked, says Pitkus.
The magnificent basement kitchen of the Elms is also a frequent setting on the show, but not in the Newport scenes. It's used as the Russells' New York kitchen, Pitkus reveals.
Travel Tip! While many sites are only open in the summer months, several of the most popular mansions, including the Elms, reopen in December with their halls decadently decked for the holidays.
THE NEWPORT CASINO
This McKim, Mead & White-designed, Shingle-style complex is referred to by locals (in the show and today) as simply “the casino,” Despite the name, it actually has nothing to do with gambling. It houses the International Hall of Fame and a pristine grass center court where Marian Brook (Louisa Jacobson) attends a lively match on the arm of Dashiell Montgomery (David Furr).
Travel Tip! Grab an outdoor table at La Forge restaurant next door for a view over the court, suggests Pitkus.
Built in 1841, “it’s one of the earliest” and most modest mansions on the show, says Pitkus. Now a National Historic Landmark, it’s the setting for an illicit affair between aspiring architect Larry Russell (Harry Richardson) and the older recent widow Mrs. Blane (Laura Benanti).
Travel Tip! Visitors today will see an addition to the house similar to the one Larry planned on the show.
Season 2 of The Gilded Age is currently airing Sundays at 9PM on Max.