Dateline Downton: Destin fans rejoice as WSRE hosts 'Downtown Abbey' inspired fundraiser

Jennie McKeon
"Downton Abbey" follows the story of the Crawleys, a well-to-do family and their large staff of servants set in the 1920s.

Since its first season in 2010, "Downton Abbey" has earned international praise from viewers like Destin’s Elithe Zoglman, who wait anxiously for each season to begin. The show has been great booster for PBS and local affiliates, such as WSRE, located in the Pensacola State College campus but aired locally.

"Masterpiece Classic’s 'Downton Abbey' has put PBS back on the map," said Robin McArthur, manager of marketing and promotions at WSRE. "We had no idea it would become the cultural phenomenon that it did. This program has helped open doors to new viewers, and we are working very hard to turn our new friends into loyal supporters."

Because of the large "Downtown Abbey" fan base and perhaps because viewers have to wait a whole year in between seasons, WSRE has hosted events such as screening parties to give zealous fans the chance to celebrate the 1920s-set show.

With the recent end of Season 3, WSRE presents Linen & Lace: A Ladies Tea Inspired by “Downton Abbey.” The event will feature music by Miramar Beach’s Katie Ott, a harpist with Pensacola Symphony Orchestra. The event will also feature a lecture on vintage fashions of the Roaring ‘20s from Ann Beth Presley, an associate professor from Auburn University.

Some fans wasted no time getting their tickets to the event, including Zoglman.

Zoglman just moved to Destin after being stationed in England for two and-a-half years. While there, she became a fan of "Downton Abbey" and had the unique experience to visit many of the filming locations for the show.

"I've always been interested in British culture — the class differences,” Zoglman said.  “All the upper class did was live.”

"Downton Abbey" follows the story of the Crawleys, a well-to-do family and their large staff of servants. Currently set in the 1920s, with English castles as backdrops and costumes as beautiful as the scenery, the production value is a large part of the show's draw.

"They did an amazing job of bringing out the period pieces," Zoglman said. "What a well-dressed age."

Zoglman's favorite character on the show is Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, played by Maggie Smith.

"She's got great timing," Zoglman said. "She always manages to get her way without any shouting."

"Downton Abbey" even has British fans, Zoglman said. Her overseas friends are proud of the show and its following.

"Normally, they're waiting for American shows to come over to them," she said.

Growing up on public television, Zoglman said she is just as excited to support PBS as she is to dress up for Linen & Lace, as period dress is encouraged.

As a history lover, Zoglman is looking forward to the lecture from Presley and, of course, tea.

"When I was in England, I scoured everywhere for a Mountain Dew," she said. "Now, I miss a good tea."

Want to go?

Linen & Lace will be April 28 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Pensacola County Club, 1500 Bayshore Dr., Pensacola. Tickets are $50. Period dress is encouraged.