Gay in the Gilded Age
In 2017 I joined Twisted Preservation Cultural Consulting for a project called Gay in the Gilded Age. Set in a Gilded Age estate in New York's Hudson Valley, the site featured a Beaux Arts architectural envelope by McKim, Meade & White (1885) that surrounded an original Greek Revival structure built in 1832. This architectural evolution created a cramped, labyrinthine servants' space between the more ornamental formal rooms added by McKim, Meade & White and the original Greek Revival structure (see above photos). This marginalized architectural space served as the inspiration and stage set for exploring how priviledged LGBTQ+ individuals straddled the fringes and forefront of society by leading double lives stretching from the vice laden Bowery district to the ballrooms of Newport. Examining this compelling social history through the lens of architecture provided a queer lens for a site that did not have a documented queer history, thus expanding potential audiences and adding renewed cultural relevance. To date, the project has not been adapted by the host site but provides an applicable case study for examining cultural heritage and historic preservation from a queer perspective.