STAATSBURG — As fans of the popular PBS television series greet the September release of the movie “Downton Abbey,” they can come to a special tour at Staatsburgh, a real-life American version of the Downton Abbey era. On Sept. 21 and 22 at 12:30 p.m., Staatsburgh will offer “America’s Elite in the Downton Abbey Era,” a tour which compares the fictional Downton Abbey to Staatsburgh, an estate and 79-room Gilded Age mansion on the Hudson River, filled with the original furniture, art and décor of the Mills family during their residence. The America’s Elite tour will also be offered on Oct. 6, 12, 14 and 19.
A costumed guide will highlight Staatsburgh’s real counterparts of the series’ fictional characters, noting the specialized role each servant played and how the house functioned during a busy weekend of entertaining. The fictionalized romances of Downton Abbey had their historical counterparts at Staatsburgh: Downton’s American heiress Cora married the fictional Earl of Grantham; Staatsburgh’s Beatrice Mills married the real Earl of Granard.
Just as viewers saw on “Downton Abbey,” Staatsburgh’s house parties featured lavish meals and entertainment. A full household staff of uniformed servants catered to every need of the family and their guests.
Admission for “America’s Elite in the Downton Abbey Era” is $10; $8 for seniors and students; and free for children aged 12 and younger. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 889-8851, ext. 300. Visitors can also enjoy a picnic or stroll along the Hudson River, or a leisurely hike through the woodland trails in adjacent Mills and Norrie State Parks. The site’s museum gift shop is filled with interesting books and gift ideas.
Staatsburgh State Historic Site and the Ogden Mills & Ruth Livingston Mills Memorial State Park are l on Old Post Road in Staatsburg, off Route 9 between Rhinebeck and Hyde Park. The historic site is one of 6 sites and 15 parks administered by the Taconic Region of New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
For more information, call 889-8851, or visit parks.ny.gov/historic-sites/25/details.aspx.