Tanglewood Music Festival – People Who Made it Happen

Picnics on the Lawn of the Tanglewood Shed
Picnics on the Lawn of the Tanglewood Shed

Today the Tanglewood Music Festival attracts 350,000 visitors a year.  Although it is on the border with Stockbridge, it is a major contributor to the Lenox tourist industry as well as a great delight to those of us who live here.

In 1934 – a difficult time – the whole county chipped in to launch the predecessor of the Tanglewood Music Festival — the Berkshire Symphonic Festival.  They were inspired by a handful of determined people.

Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge (1864-1953)

Frederick Coolidge, Albert Coolidge and Elizabeth Coolidge - 1901
Frederick Coolidge, Albert Coolidge and Elizabeth Coolidge – 1901

In 1918, Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge put her considerable funds and determination to work to produce the first Berkshire Chamber Music Festival at South Mountain,  just over the town line in Pittsfield.  She attracted renowned composers and performers.  The Berkshire’s reputation as a beautiful place to perform and listen to music had begun.  Clearly she had local cachet as the committee trying to get the Berkshire Symphony Music Festival going named her honorary president.

Henry Hadley (1871-1937)

Henry Hadley - (1871-1937)
Henry Hadley – (1871-1937)

Hadley was born in Somerville, Massachusetts, to a musical family and trained in Europe a  for what would become a successful career as a conductor and composer.  He conducted in Seattle, San Francisco in New York.   The symphony he had been conducting in New York ran into fundraising difficulty with the stock market crash, and he moved to other conducting work abroad.  It’s not clear when he visited the Berkshires but he had, for a number of years, a dream of putting on a classical summer music festival under the stars.  In spire of a cancer diagnosis in 1932, he decided to pursue his dream in the Berkshires. Fortunately he was directed to Stockbridge’s Gertrude Robinson Smith.

Henry not only worked with Gertrude and her committee to select the site but gathered 65 musicians from the New York Philharmonic and conducted the first concert at Hanna’s farm August 23, 1934 and again in 1935.  In 1935 he included performers from other orchestras and expanded the orchestra size to 85.

He remained involved in the success of the Festival’s remarkable first three years despite health problems but succumbed to cancer in 1937.

Gertrude Robinson Smith (1881 – 1963)

Gertrude Robinson Smith with Teddy and Joan Kennedy
Gertrude Robinson Smith with Teddy and Joan Kennedy

Gertrude Robinson Smith was born to a wealthy New York family.  Her father was a corporate lawyer and director of Allied Chemical. Her mother had been largely raised in Paris and Gertrude split her childhood between New York and Paris.  When World War I broke out, the family purchased a property in the Glendale section of Stockbridge (that would be on Rt. 183 as you pass Chesterwood) and started spending summers in the Berkshires.  Gertrude would go on to build (literally wearing a tool belt build) with her friend Miriam Oliver and some local help her own house on the property in the 1920’s.

During World War I, she and her friend, writer Edith Wharton, organized medical supplies for France, even traveling to the country in a blacked-out ship and flying over the front lines. Smith was made a chevalier of the French Legion of Honor for her efforts.  So the girl had some skills that set her up well to make the Berkshire Music Festival happen.

She had the magical combination of a cultured background, a CEO- like personality, money and connections….and beginning in 1934 she focused her considerable energy and skill on establishing a permanent summer music festival in the Berkshires.

She worked with Mrs. Owen Johnson (Stockbridge) and Mrs. William Fulton of Great Barrington to launch meetings across the Berkshires.  Everybody was to be involved.  They met with a representative for the festival in each of the 200 towns and planned choral training over the winter that all would be encourage to join.

Despite  difficult economic conditions, the ladies convinced local residents that this was worth the risk and should become a community enterprise.  Remarkably they pulled it off in three months for the first performance in August 1934.

After a particularly dreadful summer deluge in August 1937, she led the successful campaign to construct a permanent shelter – which would become the Koussevitsky Shed.

This video is great.  Gertrude Smith sounds just like Eleanor Roosevelt – Another Female Representative of the Greatest Generation

Serge Koussevitzky (1874 – 1951)

Eleanor Roosevelt and Serge Koussevitsky
Eleanor Roosevelt and Serge Koussevitzky

The Russian born composer and conductor would pick up the baton from Henry Hadley and expand both the program and the stature of the festival to the heights it enjoys today.

By 1936, Hadley’s health forced him to resign as conductor.  Encouraged by two successful years, the trustees sought an orchestra and conductor.

Sometimes its good to know people who know people (presumably) and the Berkshire trustees quickly worked out an agreement with the Boston Symphony trustees and George E. Judd, conductor and manager.

Leonard Bernstein, Serge Koussevitzky and Lukas Foss
Leonard Bernstein, Serge Koussevitzky and Lukas Foss

At the time Serge Koussevitzky, was the “hot” new conductor of the BSO, who had been wowing audiences and critics not just with his conducting, but also with his “aristocratic, European” bearing that simply bowled over the Boston Brahmins — so much so that the BSO advertised itself as “the aristocrat of American orchestras.”  (Interestingly, Koussevitzky was actually of humble Jewish origins which would become more a point of pride as Israel rose and anti-semitism declined.)

Koussevitzky at Serenak - The Beautiful Summer Residence Given to Koussevitzky and Named After His Two Wives
Koussevitzky at Serenak – The Beautiful Summer Residence Given to Koussevitzky and Named After His Two Wives

It would, over the long term, become obvious (he was BSO conductor from 1924 to 1949), that Tanglewood was a match made in heaven for both parties.  The success of the festival made Lenox/Stockbridge a tourist destination and allowed Koussevitzky to fulfill a dream of establishing a music institute that would foster new composition and train young artists.  Leonard Bernstein was among his many proteges.

Mrs. Gorham Brooks ((Hepburn) and Miss Mary Aspinwall Tappan

Now the Tanglewood Visitors Center - the Summer Home of the Tappans
Now the Tanglewood Visitors Center – the Summer Home of the Tappans – c. 1865
tanglewood_liongate_stu_rosner_615x250
View of Stockbridge Bowl from Hawthorne St. Gate to Tanglewood

In 1936, the final piece of the Tanglewood Festival fell into place through a gift from Mrs. Rosamund Dixey  Brooks Hepburn (1887-1948) and Mary Aspinall Tappan (1851-1941).  They gave the Boston Symphony Orchestra their summer home, Tanglewood, including 200 magnificent acres overlooking the Stockbridge Bowl.

Mrs. Brooks (later Mrs. Hepburn) was the granddaughter of William Aspinallwall and Caroline Sturgis Tappan and Mary Aspinall Tappan was a daughter (Mrs. Brook Hepburn’s aunt).

Caroline Tappan at About Age 40
Caroline Tappan at About Age 40

The Tappan family spanned the 19th century history of Lenox as a resort and added a certain creative pixie dust to Tanglewood.  The grandmother/mother was Caroline Sturgis Aspinwall (1819-1888).  She was part of a Boston family that had made its fortune in the China trade.  She married William Aspinwall Tappan, son of noted abolitionist, Louis Tappan.

They first came to the Berkshires to visit their Boston friends, the Wards, and would rent High Wood before building their own home.  When they came to the Berkshires they were a locus point for intellectual conversation, drawing, and musical performances.

Drawing of Cottage Occupied by the Hawthorne's 1850-1851
Drawing of Cottage Occupied by the Hawthorne’s 1850-1851 — Now Part of the Tanglewood Grounds

Caroline Tappan was part of the literary renaissance sweeping the country in the early 19th century and was a contributor to the Dial and a friend of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Ellery Channing, Henry James, Henry David Thoreau.  Notably, this circle also included Nathaniel Hawthorne, to whom they let the little red cottage on the drive to High Wood 1850-1851.  It was Hawthorne who coined the name Tanglewood.

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The Tale of Tanglewood Scene of the Berkshire Music Festivals by M.A. DeWolfe Howe, The Vanguard Press, New York, 1946

Hawthorne’s Lenox, The Tanglewood Circle,  by Cornelia Brooke Gilder with Julia Conklin Peters, The History Press 2008

Tanglewood/Boston Symphony Orchestra website

Wikipedia

Before There Was a Tanglewood Music Festival

The First Berkshire Music Festival
The First Berkshire Music Festival

The summer of 1934 is celebrated as laying the groundwork Tanglewood (even though it was a different orchestra in a different place), but the story really begins earlier.  To get the full background we have to move to Pittsfield (after all Tanglewood is technically in Stockbridge so why not be liberal about town lines!)

Pittsfield Philanthropist Brings First Music Festival to the Berkshires in 1918

Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge was  born in 1864 in Chicago to a wealthy wholesale dealer.  She studied music and became very proficient.   However, it is likely, in her wealthy gilded age home, she would have been discouraged from taking her music too seriously.   In fact , she would go on to become a performer, composer, patron – and popularizer of chamber music in the United States.  The plaque honoring her at the South Mountain “Temple of Music,” dubs her “The Fairy Godmother of Chamber Music.”

Elizabeth Sprague (Coolidge) at 14
Elizabeth Sprague (Coolidge) at 14

On her European Grand Tour she was enthralled by the musical offerings and was taken by the charm of festivals such as the Salzburg Music Festival.

1913 John Singer Sargent Sketch of Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge
1913 John Singer Sargent Sketch of Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge

She married  Boston born physician Frederic Shurtleff Coolidge who left his Chicago practice and moved to Pittsfield for his health.  They had one child, Albert (who would accompany his mother’s piano performances on the viola).

Her husband died in 1915 and her parents shortly thereafter.    She inherited a considerable amount of money which she used to embark on a promotion of  chamber music, a mission she continued to carry out until her death at the age of 89 in Cambridge in 1953.   Although marked by tragedy, this change of circumstance must have helped Elizabeth liberate herself from the constraints of her Victorian upbringing.

South Mountain Road Site of the Berkshire Chamber Music Festival
South Mountain Road Site of the Berkshire Chamber Music Festival

In 1916, she agreed to subsidize Chicago Symphony Orchestra violinist Hugo Kortschak (1884–1957)  and his string quartet provided they would move to Pittsfield.

The Berkshire String Quartet—Coolidge’s “Berkshire Boys”—became the nucleus for her Berkshire Chamber Music Festivals. She built a summer colony for them, with a performance venue known as the Temple of Music, and established a composition award, the Berkshire Prize, for new The Berkshire Chamber Music Festival ran from 1918 to 1924 annually, and thereafter occurred at irregular intervals in 1928, 1934, and 1938. Along with standard chamber music literature, the Festival highlighted Coolidge-commissioned and prize-winning works from the associated Berkshire Chamber Music Competition. During its two decades, the Festival generated 1,284 new works, and attracted prominent composers and performers.

Laid Groundwork for Berkshire Symphonic Festival

When the much larger Berkshire Symphonic Festival got underway in the 1930’s, they must have recognized the credibility Mrs. Coolidge had established for the Berkshires.  They named her honorary president.

First Berkshire Symphonic Festival in 1934 Advertised in Lenox
First Berkshire Symphonic Festival in 1934 Advertised in Lenox

A spark for further development arrived in the form of Henry Hadley, a composer and conductor enchanted with the idea of an outdoor music performance under the clear starry skies of the Berkshires.  He was (fortunately) directed to Miss Gertrude Robinson Smith and Mrs. Owen Johnson of Stockbridge.  They, and Mrs. William Fulton of Great Barrington, managed to gain enough local support to pull off the first festival – in what must have been a very challenging time to take the risk of attracting sufficient patrons from New York and Boston.

Residents of Stockbridge, Lenox and Lee provided funds and labor for building stage benches and an acoustical shell with the help of Emergency Relief workers.

The First Berkshire Music Festival Performance at Dan Hanna's Farm
The First Berkshire Music Festival Performance at Dan Hanna’s Farm

With the use of Dan Hanna’s horse ring, they, miraculously pulled it off.  Henry Hadley had trained and directed 65 members of the New York Symphony Orchestra who performed August 23, 25 and 26, 1934.

Seating had been constructed for 2,000 and the attendance for all three concerts was estimated at 5,000.

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The Tale of Tanglewood, Scene of the Berkshire Music Festivals, by M.A.DeWolfe Howe, The Vanguard Press, New York, 1946

 

 

Lenox as a Resort – Main Street

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 1.22.00 PM
Cornell Inn as of 2016 – 203 Mian

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 4.17.57 PM Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 4.19.41 PMMacDonald Farm/ Twin Maples/ Cornell Inn

The Cornell house was built in 1888 by the Cornell family, having purchased the property from the MacDonalds, next door. For most of its existence the Cornell Inn has been a lodge, an inn, a bed & breakfast or a way house for weary travelers on the road from Albany to Boston. Eventually, when the last of the MacDonald family passed on, leaving no kin, the then-owners of The Cornell Inn purchased the MacDonald house (built in 1777) adding it to the inn.

 

 

 

The Aspinwall

Aspinall Hotel - 1902-1931
Aspinall Hotel – 1902-1931

In 1902 General Thomas H Hubbard built the elegant Aspinwall Hotel in what is now Kennedy Park (Woolsey Woods).  It had

Aspinall Guest House
Aspinall Guest House

spectacular views, luxurious rooms, guest houses, trails and important guests.  It burned suddenly in 1931.

 

 

 

Hillside/ Kuhn Harman House/The Hidden House/ Whistler’s Inn

Hidden House - 1870
Hidden House – 1870

Hillside was built by Mrs. Hartman (Grace) Kuhn of Boston in 1870, and used by her during the ‘season’.

Mrs. Hartman Kuhn (Grace Morris Cary)
Mrs. Hartman Kuhn (Grace Morris Cary)

Mrs. Kuhn, who also purchased Butternut Cottage, owned the entire lot along Main St. from Greenwood to the Kingsland House (at the junction of Main and Cliffwood Streets). By 1890 the house was being rented

5 Greenwood St., Hartman Kuhn House - 1870
5 Greenwood St., Hartman Kuhn House as It Appeared in 2014

to Mrs. Cruger of New York, and around 1911 it was sold to Mr. and Mrs. Ross Whistler, who renamed it Hidden House. Mr. Whistler, who had made his fortune in railroads, was a nephew of the famous painter and brother of Joseph of Plumstead on Old Stockbridge Road.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Israel Dewey House/ Hubbard Tavern/ Dana Summer Home/ Birchwood Inn

Birchwood as It May Have Looked When the Dana's Summer Home - 1880's
Birchwood as It May Have Looked When the Dana’s Summer Home – 1880’s

The original portion of the structure (corner of Hubbard and Main) was the home of Israel Dewey, one of Lenox’s earliest settlers. Dewey, who established a home in the area by 1764, was one of the proprietors of Lenox and served in a number of public positions. Like many Berkshire householders, Dewey was licensed as an innkeeper. He left Lenox for Vermont in the early 1790’s, and after several changes in ownership the property was acquired by Zadock Hubbard in 1798. He enlarged the house and opened it as the Hubbard Tavern. In 1806 the building was sold to Azariah Egleston, a locally prominent man, and converted back to a private residence. The house was substantially enlarged and altered after Mary Loring bought it in 1868. In 1885 it was sold to Mr. and Mrs. Richard S. Dana of New York and was remodeled for use as a summer home.  Currently it is operated as Birchwood Inn.

Eliza Williams House/ Butternut Cottage/ Garden Gables

Butternut Cottage - Kat Carey Era -
Butternut Cottage – Pre Kate Carey Era – c. 1861

The original portion of this house was built by Susan and Eliza Williams on the site now occupied by 101 Main Street. Eliza Williams lived here until 1873 when the house was purchased by Mrs. Kuhn who had built “Hillside” around 1870. Eliza Williams may have continued to live in the house as a tenant,

Kate Carey - Horsewoman and Philanthropist
Kate Carey – Horsewoman and Philanthropist

as she is listed in the 1885 directory as having a house and lot on Main Street.

In 1905, the house was sold to Caroline Katherine Carey (Miss Kate Carey), who moved the front portion of the house to its present location, adding on an extensive wing containing servants’ quarters and a storeroom, and apparently remodeling the entire

135 Main St., Eliza Williams House - c. 1861
135 Main St., Former Eliza Williams House Now Garden Gables

house. Miss Carey used part of the first floor servants’ wing as a carpentry shop, where she built doll and bird houses. Upon her death in 1945, the property was deeded to Trinity Church, who in turn sold it to Joseph Reynolds. In 1951, it was sold again,  renamed Garden Gables and opened it as an Inn and gift shop.

The Congregational Parsonage

136 Main St., Congregational Church Parsonage
136 Main St., Congregational Church Parsonage – c. 1895

This charming Queen Anne style home stands on the site of the original Congregational parsonage, a brick building dating from 1852. By the 1890’s it had fallen into disrepair and the congregation elected to build a new house on the same site.  It is included in this description of Lenox as a Gilded Age resort only because it reflects the way the prosperity of the time spread out to effect the lifestyle of even the humble Congregational minister.  According to a turn-of-the-century magazine article, “Few Congregational Churches in Massachusetts have so fine a home for their ministers”.

This house was used as a parsonage until 1925, when the Congregational Church was given the Worthington House on Cliffwood Street which became the home of the minister.

Sunnyholm/ Sunnyhome

33 Main St., Andrew Thompson House - c. 1870
33 Main St., Andrew Thompson House – c. 1870

Andrew Thompson purchased this lot in 1836, and built this house. In 1850 Horatio Sears purchased the property and resided in the house until his death in 1861.  It changed hands several times.  When it was purchased in 1872 by Andrew and Harriet Servin it was completely remodeled.   Around 1900 it was purchased by B.K. Stevens, who named in Sunnyhome (also “Sunnyholm”).   It has been, most recently, a therapeutic facility.

The Lanai

17 Main St., Electa Eddy House - c. 1883
17 Main St., Electa Eddy House/The Lanai – c. 1883

This house was built on the site of an earlier house demolished in the late 1870’s. The lot was purchased from the owner of that house, Lucy Cottrell by Electa Eddy in 1880. In 1886, it was sold to John Egmont

J.E. Schermerhorn Home
J.E. Schermerhorn Home

Schermerhorn. Mr. Schermerhorn named the house “The Lanai”, perhaps referring to its original porches.    It is currently operated as the White House Inn.

 

The Curtis

The original temple front structure, which forms the core of the present building, was probably designed as a counterpart to the Second County Courthouse of 1816 (now the Lenox Library).

This corner has been the sight of an inn of some sort since at least 1773 when the tavern standing here served as a stop on the stagecoach route from Hudson, N.Y. to Pittsfield. Traffic in the town increased after Lenox was made the county seat in 1784.

From about 1793 the Berkshire Coffee House operated on this site, and became famous as the gathering spot for people conducting business at the county Courthouse (then located across the street on the present site of Town Hall).

1839 Print Showing the Red Inn (Curtis) Before the Mid-Century Additions
1839 Print Showing the Red Inn (Curtis) Before the Mid-Century Additions

In 1829 a brick hotel was built by Peck and Phelps, “at the urgent request and demand of persons attending the courts for increased and sufficient accommodations.”  For short time iw was rented to George W. Platner, and was then purchased by major S. Wilson. According to one mid-century guidebook “ the principal hotel – so situated as to command a favorable view, both of the village and distant scenery – has become, under the care of its efficient proprietor, M.S. Wilson, Esq., a favorite resort for visitors from the cities.”

William Curtis and the Mid-Century Hotel
William Curtis and the Mid-Century Hotel
View Showing the Late 19th Century Addition
View Showing the Late 19th Century Addition

The hotel was purchased by William O.Curtis in 1853, and has been known as the Curtis Hotel ever since. The Curtis family was responsible for much of the hotel’s ensuing success, and William O. Curtis and his son, William D. Curtis, were active members of the community. The loss of the County Court in 1868 had little impact on business at the Curtis, which by this time was catering to a growing number of seasonal visitors. Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, and accelerating rapidly after the Civil War, a stream of visitors came from New York, Boston, and other cities to experience the healthful climate, take in the views from its veranda, and join in the social activities that took place there.

Reception Area - Curtis Hotel c. 1900
Reception Area – Curtis Hotel c. 1900

Many guests returned year after year: some, desiring more space and privacy than the hotel rooms afforded, rented houses on Main and Walker Streets, also owned by the Curtis’s. These became known as “Curtis Cottages” and their occupants as “cottagers”; this has been cited as the origin of the term “cottagers” to describe wealthy summer residents in Berkshire. By the final decade of the 19th Century the Curtis served as overflow housing for owners of large estates, or was used by the estate-owners themselves before and after the “season” when their homes were not fully staffed. The building was greatly enlarged in 1883 and again in 1898 to accommodate these patrons.

6 Main St., Curtis Hotel as It Looked in 2014
6 Main St., Curtis Hotel as It Looked in 2014

The Curtis family continued to operate the hotel through the 1930’s, but he decline of summer visitors to Lenox (brought about by the institution of the income tax and the stock market crash of 1929, which made the upkeep of a large estate nearly impossible; and the Depression of the 1930’s which restricted the traveling of most Americans) made the business difficult to keep up, and the building was sold after World War II. Although subsequent owners kept it operational as a marginally successful hotel, the building suffered from some neglect and deterioration. After failed attempts to revitalize the hotel by new owners in 1970 and 1976, the town of Lenox acquired the building in 1979 and converted it to use as housing for the elderly, with retail space on the first floor.

Celebrity guests included US President Chester Arthur, abolitionist Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, Sen. Charles Sumner, Gens. George McClellan & William T. Sherman, Newspaper Editor Horace Greeley, Kentucky politician Cassius M. Clay, Robber Baron “Big Jim” Fiske, business magnate John Jacob Astor, poet James Russell Lowell and Curtis’s longtime friend, British actress Frances Ann “Fanny” Kemble, who nicknamed the hotel “The Old Red Hen.”  Writers Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) and Herman Melville (1819-1891) said to have dined together in Curtis Hotel dining room, Nov 1851, possibly exchanging advance copies of their latest books, The Wonder Book and Moby Dick respectively

Lenox as a Resort – Town Life

From Little Women to Downton Abbey

In the 19th and early 20th century, Lenox evolved from farm community and county seat to a resort for the ultra wealthy.  In the early days visitors came for the fresh air and intellectual stimulation of some key families, writers and artists.  They built (by later standards) modest homes, often near town and often lived in Lenox most of the time.

Construction Workers at Shadow Brook
Construction Workers at Shadow Brook
Gardeners at Ventfort Hall
Gardeners at Ventfort Hall
Greenhouses at Ventfort Hall (Morgan Manor Today)
Greenhouses at Ventfort Hall (Morgan Manor Today)

As America moved into the post Civil War Gilded Age, Lenox moved from the atmosphere of Little Women to the atmosphere of “Downton Abbey.”  By the end of the 19th century, the visitors came to build and visit their lavish homes and grounds.  Further from town (partly to accommodate the 100’s of acres of grounds) and much, much bigger and grander (topping out – Shadow Brook – at 250 rooms), visitors came to hunt, golf and party–sometimes for just a couple of weeks a year (for instance, Margaret Emerson at Holmwood).

Parallel Town Development

Unproven but likely generalization:  at the beginning of the century the lives of ordinary Lenox residents were influenced by various local and national trends; by the end of the century, it was all about the estates.

Rationale?

  1. In the early part of the 19th century, the population mix was changing in concert with national trends.  The original families of Lenox were almost entirely descendants of The Great Migration (English Puritans).  Some descendants of those early families remained into the 20th century(Sedgwick, Egleston, Walker, Tucker, Rockwell), but others had started to move on to better opportunities in the west shortly after Revolution (Paterson).  At the same time, European revolutions and hardships were bringing in newcomers from Europe — particularly the Irish.
  2. In the early part of the century, Lenox residents were evolving from strictly agriculture employment to serving the courts, serving the wealthier families or trade.  In keeping with the rest of the northeast, employment was also moving into manufacturing (Lenox Furnace) – and particular to Lenox and Richmond – mining.  The new arrivals from Europe moved into many of these serving and manufacturing jobs.  Over time, they became managers and owners — of stables, of freight handling, etc.  New names began to emerge as families of importance in town:  O’Brien, Mahanna and others.
  3. By the end of the century, Lenox Furnace manufacturing had
    Sears and Cook with Their Wagon
    Sears and Cook with Their Wagon
    Picking up Arrivals at Lenox Station
    Picking up Arrivals at Lenox Station
    Lenox Town Band in Front of Peters Bike Shop
    Lenox Town Band in Front of Peters Bike Shop

    slowed and mining had ceased, but building had taken off.  In addition to the Mahannas, some new names (Peters, Clifford, Bull) moved from doing the work to investing in real estate and managing construction, freightage and other industries that supported their  fellow residents as well as the coming and goings of the estate families and their retinues.  After they were built, the estates employed hundreds to manage their houses and grounds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lenox as a Resort – Cottages to the North

Fernbrook

Fernbrook - 1904
Fernbrook – 1904

Fernbrook was constructed in 1904 for Thomas Shields and Adelaide Knox Clarke. On West Mountain Road it stands today as Hillcrest School.

 

 

 

Valleyhead

Valleyhead - 1902
Valleyhead – 1902

Valleyhead was built in 1902 for J. Frederick Schenck and Mary Louisa Stone Schenck.  It is described as adjoining Home Farm so must have been on   Reservoir Road above Undermountain Road.  After it passed out of the family it was a therapeutic facility for awhile.  It burned in 1987.

Home Farm

Home Farm - 1902
Home Farm – 1902

Rounding the curve from Cliffwood to Undermountain, there is a beautiful vista across Undermountain Farm.  Home Farm looks out over that vista.

George C. Harding built this home for Dr. Henry P. and Caroline Ware Jaques in 1902. It has also been known as Waterford and Highjack Farm.

It was described in David Woods’ Lenox Massachusetts Shire Town (1969) as adjoining the golf course.  Something has changed in the terrain since then.

It is still a private home.

Undermountain Farm, across the street, was built, in the 1870’s,  by Henri Braem (Stonover) as a model farm.

Pine Needles

Pine Needles - 1903
Pine Needles – 1903

Hidden deep in the forest off Undermountain Road,  Pine Needles was built by Winslow and Bigelow for George Baty Blake (1871-1928) and Margaret Hunnewell Blake (1878 – 1967).  Landscape architects Brett and Hall of Brookline laid out the curving driveway as well as the sit of the stable and walls.

To attend to George’s tuberculosis, the couple lived in the house year round.  The home is still privately owned.

Woodcliff – Gone But Not Forgotten

Woodcliff - 1854
Woodcliff – 1854

When William Aspinall built his gothic, porched house on a hill above Church on the Hill, it was out of the mold of the Wards, Sedgwicks, etc.  First, he was from New York (the Pacific Steamship Company) and second he built on a scenic but distant spot.  He arrived in town

Early Photo of the View From Woodcliff
Early Photo of the View From Woodcliff

with a retinue of six coachmen, 21 horses and an army of servants.  The large parties of guests often included Edward J. Woolsey who was married to William’s sister Emily.  William’s brother John was a business partner.  Between 1853 and 1860, the family accumulated 500 acres of the ridge.  In a preview of things to come as Kennedy Park, the Aspinwalls and Woolseys allowed townspeople to wander through the scenic woods.

The house faced north – looking at Mount Greylock; the opposite of the Aspinall Hotel which was to follow in the 20th century – facing the southern view over Parson’s Marsh.

The house is no longer standing.

The Dormers

The Dormers - c. 1868
The Dormers – c. 1868

Richard T. Auchmuty was a Civil War veteran and an architect.  In addition to designing his home in Lenox, The Dormers, he would become active in the

Richard Auchmuty
Richard Auchmuty
Ellen Schermerhorn
Ellen Schermerhorn

construction of the new Trinity Church.  His wife, Ellen Schermerhorn, daughter of the widow Caroline Schermerhorn had grown up at Pinecroft in Lenox.

The Dormers still stands above Route 20 north of town and is part of the Twelve Oaks condominium development.

—————–

For much more on the architecture of these houses and the people who lived in them, see

Houses of the Berkshires, 1870-1930, by Richard S. Jackson Jr. and Cornelia Brooke Gilder, Acanthus Press, 2006

The Tanglewood Circle, Hawthorne’s Lenox, by Cornelia Brooke Gilder with Julia Conklin Peters

The Berkshire Cottages, A Vanishing Era, by Carole Owens, Cottage Press, Inc. 1980

 

Lenox as a Resort – Hawthorne Street

Hawthorne Street as we know it did not exist at the time of some of the early estates discussed, so we’ll have to use some imagination as to location.

Highwood

Highwood (Much Altered Since the 1844-1845 Original
Highwood (Much Altered Since the 1846  Original)

When the Wards of Boston constructed Highwood, they touched off the era of Lenox as a resort.   Intellectually curious and engaging, they attracted others to the lovely setting.

Highwood is now owned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and is used for Tanglewood special events.

Tanglewood

Tanglewood - c. 1865
Tanglewood – c. 1865

Tanglewood was built by Caroline Sturgis Tappan (1819-1888) overlooking the Stockbridge Bowl.   Caroline and her husband, William Aspinall Tappan (1820-1905) had purchased the property in 1849 next door to their friends the Wards.  Until they built their own

Recreation of Hawthorne Cottage (Original Burned in 1890)
Recreation of Hawthorne Cottage (Original Burned in 1890)

property, they stayed at the red cottage that would be home to the Hawthornes in 1850 and then rented Highwood from the Wards.

Given the highly cultural bent of this family, it’s not surprising that Caroline’s granddaughter, Rosamond Dixey Brooks, offered Serge Koussevitsky the family house, gardens, lawns and farm as a home for the summer music festival.

Wheatleigh

Wheatleigh - 1893
Wheatleigh – 1893

Wheatleigh was initially built for railroad financier H.H. Cook, who may have intended the property for one of his daughters from the start. He gave Wheatleigh to his daughter Georgie who had married Signor Carlos Manuel d Heredia. The groom was originally from Cuba and was sometimes called the Count de Heredia. Wheatleigh

Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger at the Lenox Jazz Festival
Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger at the Lenox Jazz Festival

and been designed by Peabody and Stearns with plans for the ground by Frederick Law Olmsted.

Mrs. De Herdia’s husband died in 1918 but she continued to spend part of her year at Wheatleigh, until her death in 1946.

The main house survives as a luxury hotel, but the rest of the estate was broken up and took different directions. Some of the outbuildings were used in the 1950’s and 1970’s for the Lenox Jazz festival which brought a lot of new rhythm and folk music to the

Music Inn
Music Inn

Berkshires. The next step in the evolution of music in the area was Music Inn which drew crowds with acts ranging from Joan Baez to the Kinks.

The outbuildings have now been repurposed as White Pines Condominiums.

Brookhurst 

Brookhurst 1 -
Brookhurst 1

The couple that built (the second) Brookhurst exemplified how closely associated the cottagers were – in Lenox and elsewhere. The husband in the couple, Newbold Morris (1868-1928) was Edith Wharton’s cousin and used many of the same designers that Mrs. Wharton had used on The Mount: Ogden Codman and Beatrix Jones (Farrand).

Caretaker Cottage - May be Left From Original Brookhurst Estate
Caretaker Cottage – May be Left From Original Brookhurst Estate

The original Eastlake style Brookhurst (except for the stable and gatehouse) had burned. That gave the couple a free hand in building a new house and they hired Francis Hoppin to design a very different looking Georgian revival house.

Brookhurst II - 1908
Brookhurst II – 1908

Newbold’s family had roots back to colonial New York and New Jersey. His wife, Helen Schermerhorn Kingsland Morris (1876-1956) was a second cousin with equally deep New York connections.

George and Suzy's Modernist Home on Brookhurst Grounds
George and Suzy’s Modernist Home on Brookhurst Grounds

Of the three sons, one, George Morris, built his now famous modernist home and studio on the property with his wife, the former Suzy Frelinghuysen. It is now a museum open to the public.

Some of the land on the estate was donated to the Town of Lenox for the Morris Elementary School on West. St. As an added gift, George

Morris Elementary with Mural
Morris Elementary with Mural

Morris painted an abstract mural which stands at the school entrance today.

Another brother, Stephen, took over the main house, but had it reduced in size. That house has now been sold out of the family but remains in private hands.

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For much more on the architecture of these houses and the people who lived in them, see

Houses of the Berkshires, 1870-1930, by Richard S. Jackson Jr. and Cornelia Brooke Gilder, Acanthus Press, 2006

The Tanglewood Circle, Hawthorne’s Lenox, by Cornelia Brooke Gilder with Julia Conklin Peters

The Berkshire Cottages, A Vanishing Era, by Carole Owens, Cottage Press, Inc. 1980

 

The Sedgwicks of Lenox

The Sedgwicks of Lenox set a flavor for 19th century Lenox that lingers to this day, so it is worth reviewing who they were and why they had the influence they had.

Thought of as a Stockbridge Family

245px-TheodoreSedgwick
1808 Portrait of Theodore Sedgwick by Gilbert Stuart

One of the earliest Berkshire Sedgwicks and one of the most famous was Theodore Sedgwick (1746 – 1813).  Theodore was born in West Hartford, a descendant of Major General Robert Sedgwick who arrived in Massachusetts in 1636 — part of the Great Migration.

He graduated from Yale in 1766 and began practicing law in Sheffield.  His career paralleled that of Major General John Paterson and other local Revolutionary War greats in that he participated in the Stockbridge Congress (1774), participated in the expedition to Canada, fought in the Battle of White Plains and was brought back into the fray during Shays Rebellion.  As a matter of fact he was famous enough and wealthy enough by that time for his home to be the scene of a raid.

Mumbet, Elizabeth Freeman, 1744-1829
Mumbet, Elizabeth Freeman, 1744-1829

Theodore went on to a distinguished political and judicial career, but he his most remembered for his defense of Mumbet (Elizabeth Freeman).  She was being mistreated by her mistress and was hearing all this talk of freedom so she came to Theodore Sedgwick to see if she could get her freedom.  He won the case and it was determined that slavery was inconsistent with the just passed (1780) Massachusetts Constitution (which would be somewhat of a model for the national constitution).

Additional Sources of Fame for the Sedgwick Family

In addition to being a brave soldier and an outstanding jurist, Theodore Sedgwick had the wit to produce nine children — six of whom lived to adulthood.  And yes, Kyra Sedgwick is a descendant.

The Sedgwick Pie - With Descendants Encircling Theodore and Pamela
The Sedgwick Pie – With Descendants Encircling Theodore and Pamela

With a large and distinguished family you get to have your own section of the Stockbridge cemetery – and get buried as close to the founder as your distinction and bloodlines allow. The children were all the issue of his second marriage to Pamela Dwight.  Pamela was the product of a distinguished lineage also — the daughter of Brigadier General Joseph Dwight and the widow – Abigail Williams Sargent.

Theodore’s Children

The seven children that lived to adulthood were:

  • Elizabeth Mason Sedgwick (1775-1827)
  • Frances Pamela Sedgwick (1778-1827)
  • Theodore Sedgwick II (1780-1839)
  • Henry Dwight Sedgwick (1785-1831)
  • Robert Sedgwick (1787-1804) who was a lawyer in New York. He married Elizabeth Dana Ellery, grand-daughter of William Ellery, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
  • Catherine Maria Sedgwick (1789-1876)
  • Charles Sedgwick (1791-1856)
Charles Sedgwick and his friend Judge Henry Bishop
Charles Sedgwick and his friend Judge Rockwell-

The last two – Charles in particular – became the Lenox Sedgwicks.  Lenox had become the county seat in 1784 and Charles got a job as Clerk of the County Court in 1821.  By this time his sister, Catherine, was a famous author.  Although she described Lenox as a “bare and ugly little village,” apparently it grew on her as she spent more and more time at her brother’s home in Lenox.

The antebellum Lenox she experienced is beautifully described in Cornelia Brooke Gilder’s book, Hawthorne’s Lenox.  Lenox would have indeed been quite bare since the iron industry was up and

Catherine Sedgwick Wrote Many of Her Most Famous Historical Novels 1820-1850
Catherine Sedgwick Wrote Many of Her Most Famous Historical Novels 1820-1850r.

running and using every available tree for charcoal.  Charles’ wife, Elizabeth, started a tree planting initiative and Lenox did have some very handsome structures.

Charles’ wife, Elizabeth was apparently no slouch herself in that she ran a school out of her home that was the female counterpoint to The Academy for young men.  Her school, founded about 1828,  was very well thought of and included distinguished students such as Jenny Jerome – the mother of future Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Ralph Waldo Emerson’s daughter.   By 1841,  a separate building for the school appears on town maps.

Authoress Catherine never married but Charles and Elizabeth had five children:

  • Kate – 1820
  • Charles – 1822
  • Bessie – 1826 (who was to marry the German pianist Frederich Rackemann and become the mother of Charles Rackemann  whose diary has been transcribed by the Lenox Historical Society)
  • Willie – 1831
  • Grace – 1833

Atmosphere of the Hive 

The Hive - Lenox Home of the Sedgwicks - Now the Site of Spring Lawn
The Hive – Lenox Home of the Sedgwicks – Now the Site of Spring Lawn

In 1824 the Charles Sedgwicks purchased a home that was to become known as “The Hive”. It was located where Spring Lawn is today.

The combination of a charming couple of famous lineage, the presence of a distinguished female author and famous guests including actress Fanny Kemble, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Sophia Hawthorne (the author himself was not particularly sociable) and Henry Ward Beecher, “The Hive” became a magical cultural melting pot.

Between this cultural melange,  educated individuals attracted to the courts and the two schools and the clean air and stunning scenery, “The Hive” and Sedgwicks of Lenox played a major role in putting Lenox on the early summer resort map.

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For more information on the life and times of these early Lenox intellectuals, see:

The Tanglewood Circle, Hawthorne’s Lenox, by Cornelia Brooke Gilder with Julia Conklin Peters, The History Press, 2008

The Beginnings of Lenox As a Resort Community

full_berkshire_2
Samuel Gray Ward (about 1860)

Several authors count Samuel Gray Ward’s (1817-1907) purchase in 1844 of the original Highwood as the beginning of Lenox as a resort community.  Ward certainly set the mold for others who would follow shortly.  He was the son of Thomas Ward who sought out investment opportunities in the burgeoning American economy for London based Barings Bank.

Young Samuel was a member of Emerson’s circle (a Transcendentalist Groupie?) and he longed to pursue the life of a country scholar.

Time Was Right for an Early Summer Resort

But to understand how this act set off a bit of a ripple of grand summer homes, we should probably consider how the stage was set as New England rolled into the new century.

  • The economy was shifting from agricultural subsistence to a cash based economy with the emergence of wage labor, professional services and trade as increasingly important — particularly in the Northeast.  A mobil wealthy class was emerging.
  • Other areas – particularly the Northwest Territories and  Upstate New York offered better agricultural opportunities than New England.  Starting as early as 1790 with Major General John Paterson moving to upstate New York, the phenomenon of  investing in land for its economic potential was shifting away from New England.  The quality was better and there wasn’t much open land left in Massachusetts
  • Population density (in the 1830-1850 censes Massachusetts had one of the highest densities per square mile) motivated those who were able to seek the health and beauty of the countryside.
  • Transportation improvements were accelerating allowing more people to go where they wanted to go and allowing economic specialization (i.e., wheat from the midwest, dairy and fresh food from New England moved to cities).  Roads had improved steadily since the Revolution and even before rail service was established, there was regular coach service stopping at what would become the Curtis Hotel.   Then several major developments occurred 1820-1850.  The completion of the Erie Canal in 1825 eased east west transport through the Great Lakes.  The railroad came to Berkshire County by 1841 providing relatively easy access to the countryside for movers and shakers from Boston and New York.
  • America was just beginning to define its own art and culture and patronage and discussion were eagerly sought by the elite.  Between the courts, the Sedgwicks, and the schools there apparently was enough critical mass to attract a steady flow of artists and literati such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville and Thomas Cole.

Highwood

lawn-highwood
Highroad now part of Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Summer Program; Much Altered from the Original Italianate Design

Samuel Ward purchased land from farmer Daniel Barnes’ farm – selected for its beautiful view of the Stockbridge Bowl.  Although their home was famously chilly, the Wards lived year round at Highwood from 1845 to 1849 and quickly merged with the Sedgwick cultural circle for teas, talks, recitations and concerts.  The original Highwood (the one shown above had been considerably altered) was  designed by Richard Upjohn who was, at the time, also working on Trinity Church in New York.  Although the country intellectualism of the Wards and the Sedgwicks was much less pretentious than other what would follow later in the century, the trend of out of town architects and conscious design had begun.

Oakwood, Designed by Charles McKim for Samuel and Anna Ward c. 1870
Drawing of Cottage Rented to Hawthorne in 1850 (Re-creation now on Hawthorne Rd. Across from Tanglewood)

The couple attracted other Boston visitors and, when Sam was forced to return to Boston to take over his father’s business he rented Highwood to the Tappans who would eventually take up residency on what is now part of the grounds of Tanglewood.  In 1850 they rented the little red house at the end of the drive to Nathaniel Hawthorne and his family.

Afterward

Eventually, Highwood was sold to another successful Boston businessman, William S. Bullard.  When the property was turned over to the Boston Symphony Orchestra mid twentieth century,

oakswood
Oakwood, Built in 1876 for Sam and Anna Ward by Charles McKim, Burned 1903

The Wards had never cut their ties to Lenox and when Sam Ward retired in the 1870’s he purchased a property near Highwood and had Charles McKim build shingle style Oakwood in 1876.  In 1891, the property was sold to Anson and Helen Stokes who would build Shadow Brook up the hill and convert Oakwoods to a stable.  It burned in 1903.

So here was another  pattern of tearing down charming existing homes to put up bigger, grander “cottages.”

For much more information on the early days of Lenox as a summer resort see, The Tanglewood Circle, Hawthorne’s Lenox, by Cornelia Brooke Gilder with Julia Conklin Peters

Lenox as a Resort – West Street Cottages

Judge Bishop House – Gone But Not Forgotten

Judge Bishop House
Judge Bishop House

Corner of West and Main.

 

 

 

 

 

Cozynook

Cozynook
Cozynook – 1865

Cozynook was built for George Tucker in 1865.  This charming house would have been less a “cottage” than just a very nice, mid century home.  It stands today and is apartments.

There were multiple generations of Tuckers – each generation containing at least one attorney working on county and town business.   One of the most recent, and most appreciated, public service was that of a recent George Tucker who wrote an unpublished manuscript that is a reference for local historians. (see Lenox Library or Lenox Historical Society).

Nestledown – Gone but Not Forgotten

Nestledown - 1867
Nestledown – 1867

Alice Sturgis Hooper (1841-1879) was the daughter of Boston based Congressman and shipping magnate, Samuel Hooper.   When she built the house that would be called Nestledown, she  used a fanciful stick style similar to that used for Dr. Greenleaf’s Windyside so they might have had the same architect.

It is described as being on the site of the former gallows on the steep part of West Street. That would place it someplace between the Paterson Monument and Kneeland.  She was active in cataloging the Lenox Library.  She died (tuberculosis?) in 1879.

Summerwood/ Fairlawn

Fairlawn - 1870's
Fairlawn – 1870’s (Lenox Library)

A home called Summerwood was built on this site (where Kneeland Ave. currently intersects West St.) for Sarah Starr Lee about 1847.  Lenox born Sarah’s grandfather, Joseph Goodwin, had been a partner in the early iron works. Hawthorne’s Lenox includes colorful stories of the wealthy widow’s life at Summerwood.

In the 1870’s the property was acquired by the Kneeland family.  They would transform both the house and grounds

With the death of her father and grandfather, the unmarried daughter, Adele,  was a wealthy heiress by the 1880’s.  She had (what gilded age family would be

Fairlawn Gardens
Fairlawn Gardens
Adele Kneeland (?)
Adele Kneeland (?)

complete without one) a strict aunt who disapproved of George Haven Jr. who she loved.  So Adele remained single and poured her energy into Trinity Church and a magnificent garden at this site.  In addition she had Ogden Codman do the decorating – so the house must have been lovely inside and out.

The site was in place until at least 1937 when Adele died.

Sketch of Fairlawn Grounds
Sketch of Fairlawn Grounds

Her nephews eventually had it demolished and the site was broken up into lots that now contain the housing along Kneeland Avenue.

The extent of the gardens is shown on this drawing.  It must have been a beautiful site walking down West Street.

 

 

Cushman Cottage?

Per David Woods appendix:  built 1860 by Mrs. F. R.. Beck, bought by Charlotte Cushman in 1875.  She died soon after and it was sold to Emma Stebbins.  Demolished; where Brunel Ave. housing is currently.

The Elms/ Groton Place

The Elms - 1858
The Elms – 1858

Although there was no Yokun Avenue until the 1870’s, The Elms was across from where Yokun would be as early as 1858.  The 1858 version was built for William Ellery Sedgwick and

Grenville Winthrop
Grenville Winthrop

wintrop-house-groton-place-CF46568831_120278530120Constance Irving Brevoort Sedgwick.  Ellery was the nephew of Charles Sedgwick of “The Hive” and the Lenox county courts.  This seemingly “golden” couple fell out of domestic bliss* and the house was sold in 1871.  Subsequent owners did a good deal of re-building until the property was sold in 1902 to Grenville Winthrop.

Grenville, who later some colorful domestic issues of his own*, changed the name to Groton Place, expanded the house, purchased additional property and invested in major landscaping.

Beginning in 1946, Groton Place became the home of the Windsor Mountain School.  It is currently the home of the Berkshire University Tanglewood Institute.

Shadow Brook/ Oakwood

Kripalu Yoga Retreat
Kripalu Yoga Retreat

This highly visible and scenic site (across from Tanglewood) is now Kripalu Yoga Retreat.  It was built for the Jesuit Society to replace Shadow Brook

Shadow Brook Burned 1956
Shadow Brook Burned 1956

which burned to the ground in 1956.   It had been gifted to the Jesuits in 1922 after one of its many illustrious residents, Andrew Carnegie, died there in 1919.  Itwas built in 1893 by Anson Phelps Stokes and, at 250 rooms was, for awhile, the largest house in America.

Oakwood, 1876
Oakwood, 1876

Shadow Brook did not replace Oakwood as much as consume it.

Oakwood had been built by Charles McKim for Samuel and Anna Ward, who had originally built and owned nearby HIghwood in 1844 – essentially kicking off Lenox as a resort community. The Wards sold the property to Anson Phelps Stokes in 1891.  Stokes used it as a stable and it burned to the ground in 1903.

The Corners/ Maakenac Farm/ Higginson’s Farm

Mahkeenac Farm - 1886
Mahkeenac Farm – 1886

In 1860 George Higginson, Jr. (1832-1921) purchased the Wilcox Farm next to what would have been the Tappans’ place (now Tanglewood).  His purchase included 150 acres and a view of what is known today as Gould Meadows and an old farmhouse.  George’s family was friendly with the Wards (Highwood) and Oliver Wendall Holmes and he had been a frequent Lenox visitor.  After started a career (with his uncle Henry Lee and William Bullard) in the East India trade, George decided to commit to the life of a gentleman farmer and proceeded to study “practical farming” and set up a model farm.  By 1862 he had transformed the old farmhouse and brought home his bride, Lili Barker Higginson (1836-1901).

The Pines/ Lakeside

Lakeside - 1894
Lakeside – 1894 (Lenox Library)

This attractive site was originally a farmhouse called The Pines owned by Juliette Starr and Richard Perkins Dana.  They sold the property to Charles Bristled Sr. in 1864.  The original farmhouse on the property burned in 1885.

The Colonial Revival home that stands today was built for Charles Bristed’s  son, also Charles Astor Bristled,  by Pittsfield architect H. Neill Wilson of Pittsfield  The architect had also designed the mammoth Shadowbrook next door.

The younger Charles practiced law for a few years but was primarily living on his considerable Astor fortune.  Over time, he expanded his Stockbridge landholdings to over 400 acres.  Even that wealth thinned out after Charles’ death in 1936.  His daughters continued to stay at Lakeside and the property remains in family hands.

Beckwithsaw/ Bonnie Brier

Mark_Hanna_by_WJ_Root,_1896_cropped
Mark Hanna (1837-1904)
Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 9.43.42 AM
Bonnie Brier (Rt. 183 Stockbridge) – 1892

Initially known as Bechwithsaw, Bonnie Brier was built by Harry Weeks and H. Neil Wilson for Mark Hanna.  Mark Hanna was the Ohio kingmaker largely responsible for making McKinley President.

Hanna assembled about 1,100 acres including 2,500 feet of frontage on the Stockbridge Bowl.  Leonard Forbes Beckwith had a “villa” on his 500 acres which was remodeled and then disassembled by Mrs, Samuel Hill of Seattle, who had also added to the acerage.   Mark Hanna used the property to raise prize stock.  It passed to his son Daniel Rhodes Hanna before taking up its history as a school.

Bonnie Brier (still standing and for sale as of this writing) has been the site of one of the first (if not the first) Berkshire Music Festivals at what was known as “Hanna’s Farm”  (think Tanglewood) in 1935 and the Stockbridge School (a progressive education school akin to Windsor Mountain School) 1948-1976.  Most recently, it was the home of the DeSisto School

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For much more on the architecture of these houses and the people who lived in them, see

*Houses of the Berkshires, 1870-1930, by Richard S. Jackson Jr. and Cornelia Brooke Gilder, Acanthus Press, 2006

*The Tanglewood Circle, Hawthorne’s Lenox, by Cornelia Brooke Gilder with Julia Conklin Peters

The Berkshire Cottages, A Vanishing Era, by Carole Owens, Cottage Press, Inc. 1980

Lenox as a Resort – Cliffwood Cottages

Cliffwood  has so many lovely homes today that they could all be considered estates in modern terms.  For the sake of manageability, this enumeration is limited to those that have been written up as “cottages.”

Osceola

Osceola - 1889
Osceola – 1889

Known as Osceola, 25 Cliffwood was built for Mr. and Mrs. Edward Livingston in 1889 by Rotch and Tilden.  It has been used as a retreat for General Electric  and an Inn.  It is currently a private residence.

Sunnyridge I & II

Sunny ridge - 1884
Sunnyridge – 1884

This house was built as a summer home by Mr. and Mrs. George Folsom in 1884.  AT the time it would have been next to the (also later burned) Homestead on Cliffwood St.

The half timbered house was designed by Charles Coolidge Haight.  Houses of the Berkshires* contains wonderful stories about the life and times in this book laden old house.

Mr. Folsom was the law partner to President Grover Cleveland. Miss Frances Folsom married the President in the first White House wedding. She was 22 years old and President Cleveland was 50 at the time.

Sunnyridge Replacement (49 Cliffwood) - 1925
Sunnyridge Replacement (49 Cliffwood) – 1926

In 1925 the original house was destroyed by fire and it was rebuilt the following year. Built in the English cottage style, the new house was designed by Delano and Aldrich.

The Homestead

Homestead – 1885

Completed in 1885, The Homestead was designed by Charles McKim with landscaping by Frederick Law Olmsted.  His client, Julia Amory Appleton (1859-1887) must have been pleased with his beautiful design as she married the recently divorced McKim the same day her sister married George von Lengerke Meyer.  Tragically she died two years later and McKim sold the Homestead to Anson and Helen Stokes in 1889.

Julia Amory Appleton McKim
Julia Amory Appleton McKim

They expanded the house (a lot) foreshadowing their future edifice – Shadow Brook.  In 1905, when the house was rented to the Eric Dahlgren family, it burned to the ground. Fearing a takeover by “outsiders” George Folsom, Morris Jessup, John E. Parsons and Grenville Winthrop bought the site.  The Homestead was replaced in 1914 and 1915 by 57 and 61 Cliffwood Street, designed by Harding & Seaver.

71 Cliffwood
71 Cliffwood

Although the numbers do not match the Harding and Seaver home shown here is described as being on one of the lots formerly occupied by The Homestead.

 

Breezy Corners

35 Greenwood Street
35 Greenwood Street

This Greenwood Street property primarily fronts on Cliffwood.   As an 1870’s farmhouse expanded over the years, it is more typical of earlier summer homes than the other more elaborate architectural cottages on Cliffwood.  It is most often written up because it sheltered one of America’s most prestigious families — the Biddles of Philadelphia..  Their Quaker ancestors came to Philadelphia before American Revolution and had been active in science, law and banking ever since.  Mrs. Jonathan Williams Biddle bought the property in 1886.  Her daughter, Miss Emily Biddle came there every summer until her death in 1931.  She was a founding member of the Lenox Horticultural Society and active in the Tub Parade and other Lenox activities.  The property is a private home.

Belvoir

Belvoir Terrace 1891
Belvoir Terrace  (80 Cliffwood St.) – 1891

Belvoir Terrace was designed by Rotch & Tilden and built between 1888-1890 for Morris K. Jesup, with landscaping by Frederick Law Olmsted.  Facing Cliffwood Street and with a “side” entrance on Greenwood Street, this highly fanciful property also had an entrance from Main Street, next to Church on the Hill.

Morris K. Jesup (1830-1908)
Morris K. Jesup (1830-1908)

Morris K. Jessup (1830-1908) was a successful banker and a notable philanthropist. His philanthropic activities included backing Robert Peary’s Arctic expedition and being president of the Museum of Natural History.  He was, along with several other super wealthy Lenox cottagers, in the Georgia Jekyll Island Club.

Belvoir is currently an arts and music camp. It is easily visible from Cliffwood Street.

Underledge

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 9.08.19 PM
Underledge – 1889

Underledge, still standing as a handsome private residence, was built for Mr. and Mrs. Joseph W. Burden.

Little has been found about the Burdens other than regular references in the social columns to her teas and his golfing prowess.

Rocklawn

Rocklawn - 1888
Rocklawn (89 Cliffwood St.)  – 1888

Once part of Windyside, this home was built for William and Elizabeth Stone Bacon.

 

 

Deepene 

Deepen - 1886
Deepen – 1886

Up the street from Rocklawn Francis Parker Kinnicutt and Eleanora Kissel Kinicutt built Deepened in 1886.  The final home on the tour, Deepdene, was constructed as a Colonial Revival summer cottage on Cliffwood Street in 1886. Deepdene was designed by Bruce Price, an important New York architect. The owners were the socially prominent Dr. Francis and Mrs. Eleanora Kinnicutt. Edith Wharton was one of the doctor’s patients and encouraged her to move to the Berkshires. The entrance is directly into a soaring stairhall while many porches originally overlooked the expansive green of the Lenox Club golf course.   The golf course has now been re-absorbed by the woods.

———————————-

For much more on the architecture of these houses and the people who lived in them, see

*Houses of the Berkshires, 1870-1930, by Richard S. Jackson Jr. and Cornelia Brooke Gilder, Acanthus Press, 2006

The Berkshire Cottages, A Vanishing Era, by Carole Owens, Cottage Press, Inc. 1980