World War I And The End Of The Gilded Age

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image001(10)To mark the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I in 1914, Staatsburgh State Historic Site will debut a new tour, “World War I and the End of the Gilded Age.”

Staatsburgh was the home of prominent social hostess Ruth Livingston Mills and her husband, financier Ogden Mills.  The 79-room mansion showcases the opulent lifestyle enjoyed by the wealthy elite of the early 20th century.  This special tour will explore how the cataclysm of World War I brought an end to the extravagant excesses of the Gilded Age.

In a setting rich with Louis XIV furniture, Italian marble and 17th century Belgian tapestries, the tour discusses the impact of the war on the Gilded Age and on the Mills family.  The Millses’ son volunteered to serve in France, and their Paris home became American General John J. Pershing’s headquarters.

By the war’s end in 1918, changes in society, technology and the creation of the income tax all combined to usher in a new era.  Within a generation of being built, many of the great mansions of the Gilded Age were gone, abandoned by families that could no longer afford their upkeep or no longer wanted to live a life that celebrated ostentatious displays of wealth.  Visitors attending the tour will see that Staatsburgh remains as a time-capsule of the Gilded Age, with its original lavish furnishings intact.

The 90-minute tour “World War I and the End of the Gilded Age” will be given on Sundays in August at 1pm, starting on August 10 (August 10, August 17, August 24 and August 31). Reservations are recommended by calling (845) 889-8851.

Staatsburgh State Historic Site offers regularly-scheduled house tours in addition to special theme tours.  The site and Ogden Mills & Ruth Livingston Mills Memorial State Park are located on Old Post Road in Staatsburg, off Route 9 between Rhinebeck and Hyde Park.

Staatsburgh is one of 6 historic sites and 15 parks administered by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation – Taconic Region.  For more information call 845-889-8851 or visit our websites at and

Photo provided.

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