A few years ago, I decided to challenge myself. I took a small idea and spent a year building it from something very small, and transformed it into a book. That book then grew to be a bigger project that caused me to realize just how amazed I was with the past. The focus of the book (series) is time travel and the consequences of such a capability. While spending counteless nights working on the transcript, I found myself spending more time hung up on the past than living in the present. At that point, I understood my fixation was not so much an obsession, but a fascination with other lives in different eras and how the slightest curveball could offset someone’s path drastically. As I allowed my mind to dwell in different times, I discovered my love for the Gilded Age and the 1920s- specifically with the lives of those who lived beyond common man’s reach.
The mission of this site is to explore some of North America’s most precious monuments to the Gilded Age and Roaring Twenties- the homes of the rich, powerful, and historical figures that helped shape our history.
The name “Gilded Butler” emerged when I became frustrated over the title of this page. I wanted something grand, mysterious, or even vague. My mind kept going to gold, chandeliers, and fine China. While thats all wonderful, none carried much knowledge. So the more I thought and voiced ideas, a blend of words finally came to mind. The Gilded Butler- Essentially, those two words are at opposite ends of the spectrum. by definition, Gilded often refers to something painted in gold leaf. A Butler serves those of high rank. While they seem to be polar opposites, they are also one in the same. A butler often is the golden figure in the household. His value is not in material, but in secrets and knowledge. No one knows more about the house and the occupants than the one silently waiting on their every need. In a way, there is no one more valuable, and no one more deadly. Who is more powerful- The man who owns the silver platter, or the one who serves with it?
-Matthew J. Niewenhous
(All photos are taken by me unless noted)