Tag Archives: Lenox Gilded AGe

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 – Old Stockbridge Road

Jonathan Hinsdale - First European Settler of Lenox
Jonathan Hinsdale – First European Settler of Lenox

A plaque across from Hawthorne Street celebrates the location of the first settler of Lenox – Jonathan Hinsdale.  It was, for a long time, the primary north-south route to Stockbridge and it has beautiful views.  So it is not surprising that this street was a major location for beautiful homes – in the early days up to today.  Some remain, some are gone.

Rev. Justin Field House

The Original, Modest Rectory for Trinity

Not a “cottager”from a wealth stand point,  but an important figure in Lenox’s Gilded Age era, Rev. Justin Field was a long-time (1862-1890) rector of Trinity Church and a leader in constructing the new church on Walker.

The space was also used as a boarding facility for students of Elizabeth Sedgwick’s school — including young Jenny Jerome (future mother of Winston Churchill).

20 Old Stockbridge Road as It Appears in 2016
20 Old Stockbridge Road as It Appears in 2016

In keeping with the newly robust and wealthy congregation,  the space was upgraded to the Tudor-like structure that stands today at 20 Old Stockbridge Road as a private residence.   In 1892 a new rectory was built on the Trinity Church grounds.

 

 

Miss Lippicott’s School

School or Perhaps Living Space for Lenox Academy and Other Private Schools
School or Perhaps Living Space for Lenox Academy and Other Private Schools

The building that still stands today as privately owned condominiums, was similarly, a re-work of an earlier structure and a facility for wealthy visitors.  It has also been referred to as Tanner Cottage.

 

Moved and Changed

Rockwood (11 Old Stockbridge Road) - c. 1880
Rockwood (11 Old Stockbridge Road) – c. 1880

One of the first buildings you encounter on Old Stockbridge Road, now the Rockwood Inn, began life elsewhere.  It was known as the Williams Tavern in 1825 and was located where Main and Cliffwood now meet.  It would have been one of many taverns that did a land office business during Lenox’s busy court days.

Leonard Constance Peters
Leonard Constance Peters

Around 1880, the building was purchased by Leonard Constance Peters who started a number of successful businesses in Lenox.  He added the Victorian front of the building in the late 1880s. As with many successful Lenox businesses at the turn of the century, he catered to the estate owners by providing lodging for their secretaries and horses for hire.

 

 

Redwood

Redwood - 1881
Redwood – 1881

Redwood was built about 1880 for S. Parkman Shaw.  Later owners used the name Beechknoll.

 

 

 

Beaupre – Gone But Not Forgotten

Beaupre 1902-1961
Beaupre 1902-1961

George and Elizabeth Turnure built Beaupre in 1902 roughly where Turnure Terrace stands today.  The house picture here reflects alterations to an 1867 structure.  The 1961 fire was thought to have been caused by some Windsor School students.

George Turnure was a New York banker and the father of a 21 year old WWI flying ace.  His son was killed and, in his honor, George built  the Lenox Brotherhood Club on Walker St.  that would become the Lenox Community Center.

Lithgow – Gone and No Photos

This described in David Woods’ Lenox Massachusetts Shire Town (1969) as being on the west side of Lanier Hill on Old Stockbridge Road.  The house (apparently extant at that time) is dated to the late eighteenth century although “modernized” in 1870 by Alfred Gilmore.

Burton Harrison House

15 Hawthorne - Major Harrison House (Brook Farm Inn)
15 Hawthorne – Burton  Harrison House  – c. 1882; Now (Brook Farm Inn

In another example of cashing in on resort development, Frederick Rackemann  bought a local farm in 1882 and constructed this house for rental.  Rackemann was married to Elizabeth Dwight Sedgwick and lived at the Hive.

The first tenants were Burton Harrison and his wife Constance Cary Harrison. The cottage became known as “The Burton Harrison House.”

The Harrisons were originally from Richmond, Virginia. Burton Harrison served as the personal secretary to President Jefferson Davis. Constance was a direct descendant of Thomas Jefferson. After the Civil War the Harrisons moved north and became prominent members of New York society.

How Our Inn’s Berkshires History Is Tied to the Statue of Liberty
Like many of their contemporaries, the Harrisons chose to leave the city for the summer season. They rented the Lenox cottage and entertained their friends there. Guests included the Andrew Carnegies, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, and the poet Emma Lazarus. Constance was a popular novelist and playwright. She enlisted some of her friends to act out parts of her plays in the library of the Lenox house.

In 1883 Constance chaired a fund-raising art exhibition. A statue was being given as a gift to the people of the United States, from the people of France, and New Yorkers were busy raising funds to construct a pedestal for the statue. Constance joined in this effort by gathering a portfolio of original literary works by leading American authors, which she planned to auction at the art exhibit. Constance asked her friend Emma Lazarus to write a sonnet for the occasion. Lazarus, a member of the Harrisons’ New York set, had been doing volunteer work at a Lower East Side settlement house. Constance suggested that Emma use that as inspiration and several days later received a copy of  the famous poem

Frederick Rackemann died in 1900, and  to his butler, James Whittenham. Whittenham was in the odd position of having the building, but no property on which to situate it. He purchased real estate on Hawthorne Street from Bertia Parsons, the widow of Julius Parsons. The cottage was moved down the hill, and found a permanent home at 15 Hawthorne Street.  It is currently operated as a bed and breakfast.

Parenthetically, on its way down the hill, the house passed the famous elm tree where a fatal sled accident had occurred. Lenox resident Edith Wharton later based her novel, Ethan Frome, on the accident. The tree was eventually removed, but a grassy triangle still marks the spot at the intersection of Old Stockbridge Road and Hawthorne Street.
It was purchased in the 1970’s by Ruth Backes, a direct descendant of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Her family history is important because Emerson was involved in the original Brook Farm, a utopian cooperative community of the 1840’s; Ruth Backes changed the name of the inn to Brook Farm Inn. Nathaniel Hawthorne was also involved in the original Brook Farm, and based his novel, The Blithedale Romance, on his experiences there. How ironic that the inn is located on Hawthorne Street!

(from Brook Farm Inn website)

Plumstead

Plumstead When Home of Joseph Whistler
Plumstead When Home of Joseph Whistler

A jail was among the needs Lenox had when it was the county seat (1784 to 1867).  Plumstead was the first site of the jail and the jailer’s house.  The jailer is also described as owning Blossom Hill Farm.  Part of the structures were burned down by a prisoner in 1814.  By the late 19th century

Plum stead (95 Old Stockbridge Road) - c. 18010
Plum stead (95 Old Stockbridge Road) – c. 18010

Queen Anne style angles had been added and one of two Lenox Whistler’s had moved in.  Joseph Whistler and his brother Ross (who purchased a house on Greenwood (now known as Whistler’s Inn) were nephews of James McNeil Whistler and grandsons of the famous “Whistler’s Mother.”

The Bishop Effect

Cortland Field Bishop
Cortland Field Bishop
Interlaken
Interlaken 1888-1922

Cortland Field Bishop (1870-1935) drove fast cars, invested in the Wright Brothers, wrote about history and collected books.  Like several of his Lenox estate owning counterparts, both his father and mother came from wealthy families.  His brother David committed suicide in 1911 and the entire family fortune came to Cortland. He used part of his fortune to buy up a number of properties in addition to those he inherited. His properties surrounded Bishop’s Estate (running from Old Stockbridge Road to Kemble Street across from Canyon Ranch) plus further up OSR (across from Elm Court) Interlaken.  He razed The Perch(off Kemble) and built the Winter Palace

He  razed Yokun Farm on Old Stockbridge Road and built Ananda Hall in 1927 (demolished 1940)

Yokun Farm - 1791
Yokun Farm – 1791

The original house on Yokun Farm had been built by the William Walker family (one of three Lenox properties William Walker owned) and passed to the Goodman family — perhaps after the Walkers moved to their house in town.

Ananda Hall was razed shortly after Cortland died and only a rock wall remains on Old Stockbridge Road. The Winter Palace he had built off Kemble remains.  The Bishop family also built two houses (for all those overflow guests!) on Walker Street that stand today.

The rest of the former and standing estates start bleeding into Stockbridge, but their owners probably would have socialized toward Lenox.

Allen Winden

Allen Winden - 1882
Allen Winden – 1882

Allen Winden was built next to where Yokun Farm had been and had a spectacular view.  The house, apparently named for a town in Switzerland, was built in 1882 by Charles Lanier (1837-1926) and Sarah Egleston Lanier (1837-1898).

Allen Winden Stables
Allen Winden Stables

Sarah was a descendant of Azariah Egleston, one of Lenox’s Revolutionary War heroes and early town leaders.  Lanier, a banker and investor, lived the good gilded age life with lavish hunt breakfasts and weddings in Lenox plus membership in the famous Georgia Jekyll Island Club and J.P. Morgan’s Corsair Club.  Good thing – since J.P. Morgan, a frequent business partner,  had to bail Lanier out a couple of times.

The elaborate house was demolished, after Lanier’s death, in 1926 and replaced by a plainer Henry Seaver design.  The elaborate landscaping was divided up into lots and it is now the Winden Hill Condominium complex.

Elm Court

Elm Court - 1886
Elm Court – 1886

This shingle style spectacular was another product of two fortunes marrying.  The original house was much smaller than the 90 room final product.  Designed by Peabody and Frederick Law

Emily Vanderbilt and William D. Sloane
Emily Vanderbilt and William D. Sloane

Olmsted, it was commissioned by William Douglas Sloane (1840 – 1915) and Emily Vanderbilt Sloane (1852-1946).  He was the son of the prosperous Sloane furniture business and she was the granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt.

Miraculously, the property has survived and the current owners are seeking approval to build a luxury hotel around the gilded age complex.

Overlee

The Lenox Hunt at Overlee - Built 1903
The Lenox Hunt at Overlee – Built 1903

Down the road toward Stockbridge, Samuel (1868-1923) and Elinor (1873-1961) Frothingham built Overlee in 1903.  As with so many of its wannabe Elizabethan counterparts in Lenox, Overlee replaced a shingle style home called Glad Hill (no pictures).  While

Overlee Residence of Samuel Frothingham - 1903
Overlee Residence of Samuel Frothingham – 1903

Overlee was being built the Frothinghams stayed at the Poplars across Old Stockbridge Road (also no pictures).  As the hunt club gather shown above suggests, the Frothinghams were avid athletes and were active in the hunt club, golf and gardening.

Before settling into its current role as the Hillcrest Educational Center, it had been, along with so many other former estates, a boys’ boarding school.

Merrywood

Merrywood in 2011 - In Its Last Days?
Merrywood in 2011 – In Its Last Days? – 320 Old Stockbridge Road

Colonial Revival Merrywood was built in 1882 by Peabody and Sterns for Charles Bullard (1857-1911).  He had grown up at Highwood and was the son of East India merchant William s. Bullard.

For awhile it was operated as a Music Camp.  Its  fate is uncertain.

 

Poplars

The Poplars
The Poplars

Known to have existed near Bean Hill Road (the Frothinghams lived here prior to the construction of Overlee) but limited additional information.

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

Groton Place – 45 West. St., Completed 1905

wintrop house groton place CF46568831_120278530120
Groton Place – 1905 – Became the Summer Home of Grenville Lindall Withrop and His Two Daughters

Grenville LIndall Winthrop built Groton Place in 1905 as a summer home.  It encompassed the stone villa on this site from 1858 (The Elms). The new Carrera & Hastings designed building replaced the old with a classical, symmetrical order preferred by Winthrop.  He had all Victorian features removed.

The formality of the design is an interesting contrast to the Carrere & Hastings designed Bellefontaine (now Canyon Ranch on Kemble Street).  The Groton Place building  is not only more formal but is set in a more recessive landscape.  The building and landscape seem uniquely appropriate for the somewhat reclusive, 9th generation Winthrop owner.

Winthrop was highly involved in the design of the grounds.  At his direction,  a landscape was created that was very sculptural with massed shrubs, ornamental ponds, decorative out buildings and highly tailored hedges…..no flowers.

Grenville northrop CF46568831_132896543291
Groton Place Library-Everet Hale Lincoln Photograph Collection Lenox Library
Winthrop House MNY240574
Double House at 15 E. 81st St. Winthrop Purchased to Accommodate His Collection (Museum City of New York)

Reportedly, Winthrop’s favorite room was the wood- paneled library.The house was full of clocks and artworks. (1)

 

 

 

 

 

Winthrop was a discerning and extensive collector who, in addition to his Lenox summer home, moved, in the 1920’s, to a double house at 15 East 81st St. in New York to accommodate his collection.

In addition to the 150 acres he owned for his summer house, he bought large tracts near Bald Head Mountain to protect his views.  He was said to employ 40 men to mow the lawns and to keep 500 peacocks and pheasants that roamed the property (2).

After Winthrop’s death in 1943, Groton Place was purchased by the Bondy’s to be the home of the Windsor Mountain School.  Currently, the property is owned by Boston University and used as a summer music school and also for Berkshire Country Day classes.

Boston_University_Tanglewood_Institute_-_Grafton_Place,_Lenox,_MA,_USA
Groton Place Today

1. Houses of the Berkshires 1870-1930, by Richard S. Jackson Jr., and Cornelia Brooke Gilder, Acanthus Press, 2006,  pps. 230-233

2.  Harvard Magazine, “Unveiled – For the First Time, a Recluse’s Treasures Go Traveling,” by Christopher Reed, March-April 2003

Leonard Constance Peters

An excellent example of the immigrants who came to work on the estates – and whose descendants populate modern Lenox.

L.C. Peters, one of 10 children, left Kent, England in 1870, when he was 20, to look for work in the United States. His first stop was Troy, NY where he had family and became part of the work crew that came to Lenox to build Ethelwynd.   A skilled carpenter, he saved, and had, after four years, enough to bring over his fiancée, Martha Barnes and they raised three children to adulthood in Lenox.

Continue reading Leonard Constance Peters

Annie Kneeland Haggerty Shaw

anniehaggertyshaw3-230x300

Born to a wealthy New York family in 1835, Annie Haggerty Shaw represents both the Berkshire  Civil War widows and the “first generation” of Lenox summer homeowners.

Her parents, Elizabeth Kneeland Haggerty and Ogden Haggerty (also buried at Church on the Hill) summered at Vent Fort.   Pictured here, the building, no longer standing, was moved and replaced by the far grander Ventfort Hall built by Sarah Morgan in 1893 and still standing today.

full_berkshire_ventfort

 

ventfort5.11.04.2v21

This transformation was illustrative of the 19th century evolution of Lenox from a charming, intellectual watering hole for the Sedgewicks, Melvilles and Hawthornes to the “can you top this,” opulence of the Gilded Age.

In 1861 she met Robert Gould Shaw, the son of a wealthy Boston family active in the Abolitionist movement. The Shaw family used their influence to get Robert appointed as leader of the Union’s first all Black regiment, the Massachusetts 54th.

shaw

 

Annie and Robert married in 1863 and honeymooned briefly at Vent Fort before Shaw shipped out at the head of his regiment.   As portrayed in the movie, “Glory,” Robert Gould Shaw and many of his troops were mowed down in the assault on Fort Wagner.

Annie Haggerty Shaw never re-married and died in Boston in 1907.

80 Cliffwood St., Belvoir Terrace – c. 1888

Road to Belvoir_NEW

A.J. Jessup Mansion built in 1890 is a typical Lenox Gilded Age Mansion
A.J. Jessup Mansion built in 1890 is a typical Lenox Gilded Age Mansion

Belvoir

Belvoir Terrace was designed by Rotch & Tilden and built between 1888-1890 for Morris K. Jesup, with landscaping by Frederick Law Olmstead. John Shepherd purchased the estate in the early 1920’s, making many renovations: the addition of two rooms, the enclosure of the porch, and the installation of a slate roof.  Like Mr. Jesup, Mr. Shepherd and his family enjoyed summering at Belvoir. As a summer camp, Belvoir Terrace preserves the great lawn, wooded paths, and imported trees, while restoring the mansion and carefully developing new facilities.

In 2001, a study prepared by The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission and The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission stated, “Among the great estates, Belvoir Terrace is one of the best examples of an estate that maintains a reasonable balance between active use and preservation. The balance is attributable to the current owners’ singular knowledge of building preservation standards, adherence to a maintenance plan, and to the estate’s successful re-use as a summer arts camp. The estate is itself an important focal point on Cliffwood Street.”

(from the Belvoir Terrace website – 2014)

7 Hubbard St., Israel Dewey House – 1760-1770

7 Hubbard St., Israel Dewey House - c. 1770
7 Hubbard St., Israel Dewey House – c. 1770

From Surveys Completed 2011-2012 by the Lenox Historical Commission

ARCHITECTURAL DESCRIPTION:

This Colonial Revival style building has two stories, an asphalt shingle roof and has been altered. It now has a 4-bay, wood frame; mansard roof with a dentiled band at the cornice, gable roof dormers and shed dormer on the rear ell. It has wood clapboard siding. There are 4 brick chimneys-1 on front wall, 1 rear wall; 1 side wall & 1 interior on side/rear ell. The house has some early 12 over 1 and 6 over 1 windows. There is a full front porch with fluted Doric columns and dentils. The front door is surrounded with molded header, architrave, and 2/3-length side lights. The 2-story right side ell extends to the rear and probably incorporates the original kitchen wing off of the right rear corner (depicted on 1876 Beers Map). The rear porch has Doric columns at the interior corner of the main house & west side of rear ell. It has a 1-story faceted bay window on front of right side ell and authentic window blinds on the 2nd story windows on the front facade and bay window.

HISTORICAL NARRATIVE:

The original portion of the structure 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. The Dana family retained ownership until 1953, when it was sold and returned to use as an inn.

The property was sold to Toner Associates Inc. in 1991 and then to Ellen Gutman Chenaux in 1999.

BIBLIOGRAPHY and/or REFERENCES:

Not shown on1854 Clark Map. 1939 Sanborn Map depicts current footprint.

The Book of Berkshire, Clark W. Bryan, 1886

Lenox – Massachusetts Shire Town, David H. Wood, 1969

County Atlas of Berkshire, Mass., F. W. Beers, 1876

Atlas of the Garden Spots of Berkshire, Barnes and Jenks, 1894

Lenox Assessor’s database 2011

58 Yokun Ave., Carey House – c.1878

58 Yokun Av
58 Yokun Ave., Carey House – c.1878

From Surveys Completed 2011-2012 by the Lenox Historical Commission

ARCHITECTURAL DESCRIPTION:

This is a 2-story, wood-framed house with wood clapboard and shingle siding prominently sited atop a hillock. It displays characteristics of both the Shingle and Queen Anne architectural styles. It has an asymmetrical arrangement of the front facade and irregular footprint. The roof is cross-gabled, clad with asphalt shingles, and features a number of dormers. A small dentil band on the cornice encircles the house. There are four massive brick chimneystacks (having multiple flues). There are a variety of shingles—the front gables have scalloped shingles with incised circles; the right side gable has sawtooth and tongue shingles alternating every row; and the second floor has rows of notched shingles over regular rectangular cut shingles. Scroll sawn brackets support all the projecting gables. Two projecting front gabled bays dominate the front facade. The larger of the two is on the right. It has a projecting gabled roof with a set off three attic windows, a broken pediment spanning all three. (This attic window arrangement is repeated on the right side of the house.) A canted bay window on the second floor is centered below, and below it is a 1-story sunporch with balcony atop. The left side pavilion is similar, except with a single 6-o-6 attic window and second floor French door that gives out onto a balcony that tops a fairly recent 1-story addition to the front. (It obscures the original front entry). The entrance, which was moved to the left (north) side, has a porch with two plain pillars and two pilasters with spindled balustrade atop, finials at its corners. The current entry door surround has a fanlight and 2/3-length sidelights. There is a 1-story ell on the left side of the rear ell. In 1885 a large 2-story rear addition was constructed. Attic windows are generally 6-light barn sash type, though on the right side, it has been replaced with a screen. There are a number of original Queen Anne style windows (small square panes surrounding a larger pane) and others with multi-paned transoms.

A large wood-framed carriage barn is sited well behind the house to the east. It has a gable roof with dormers and a cross-gabled right side ell. A greenhouse is also set back from the house, north and west of the carriage barn. A newer front gabled 2-stall garage is located behind the house and south of it is an in-ground swimming pool and gable-roofed pool house. The rear side yard in which the pool and pool house are located is fenced. A curvilinear driveway off Yokun Avenue with its entrance to the north of the house ascends the hill to a wide drop-off area at the front entrance, continues behind the house to access the garage, with a branch eastward to access the carriage barn. There are many mature coniferous and deciduous trees throughout the property.

Architect Henry M. Seaver (3/6/1873 –

The Edward A. Jones Memorial Building was designed by Pittsfield architect Henry M. Seaver. He graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1897 and began his own architectural firm in 1901.[1] By 1903 he had entered into a partnership with George C. Harding that lasted until Harding’s death in 1921.[2] During that period the firm designed the YMCA Building in Pittsfield; the Chapel at Colgate University in central New York; the Museum of Natural History and Art in Pittsfield; the Colby Academy in New London, New Hampshire; and the Lenox Town Hall.[3] After Harding’s death in 1921, Seaver kept the office open through 1933, during which time he designed the Jones building at the House of Mercy. Other buildings for which he was responsible in this period include the R.J. Flick Residence; an addition to the Berkshire Life Building in Pittsfield; and an addition to the Pittsfield Boys Club Building. He was also an associate architect on the Pittsfield High School Building.[4]

Architect Charles Follen McKim FAIA (August 24, 1847 – September 14, 1909)

One of the most prominent American Beaux-Arts architects of the late 19th century. Along with Stanford White, he provided the architectural expertise as a member of the partnership McKim, Mead, and White.

McKim was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and was named after Charles Follen, noted abolitionist and Unitarian minister. After graduating from Harvard, he studied architecture at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris[1] before joining the office of Henry Hobson Richardson in 1870. McKim formed his own firm in partnership with engineer William Rutherford Mead, joined in 1877 by fellow Richardson protégé Stanford White.

For ten years, the firm was primarily known for their open-plan informal summer houses. McKim became best known, however, as an exponent of Beaux-Arts architecture in styles that exemplified the American Renaissance, exemplified by the Boston Public Library (1887), and several works in New York City: the Morningside Heights campus of Columbia University (1893), the University Club of New York (1899), the Pierpont Morgan Library (1903), New York Penn Station (1904–10), and The Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio (1919). He designed the Howard Mansion (1896) at Hyde Park, New York.[2]

McKim, with the aid of Richard Morris Hunt, was instrumental in the formation of the American School of Architecture in Rome in 1894, which has become the American Academy in Rome, and designed the main campus buildings with his firm McKim, Mead, and White.

McKim received numerous awards during his lifetime, including the Medaille d’Or at the 1900 Paris Exposition, a gold medal from Edward VII of the United Kingdom,[3][4] and honorary doctorates from the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University. He was elected a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1877, and received the AIA Gold Medal, posthumously, in 1909.

  1. Craven, Wayne (2009). Gilded mansions: grand architecture and high society. W. W. Norton & Co. p. 228.
  2. “National Register Information System”. National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13.
  3. “KING EDWARD HONORS CHARLES F. McKIM”. NY Times. June 9, 1903.
  4. Moore, Charles (1929). The Life and Times of Charles Follen McKim. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co. pp. 204-241. The royal gold medal was awarded for the restoration of the White House. In 1902 Congress appropriated $475,445 for this purpose to be spent at the discretion of President Theodore Roosevelt.

HISTORICAL NARRATIVE:

This house was built for Miss Mary DePeyster Carey. In 1917, it was sold to Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Strong and in 1931 to Miss Anna R. Alexandre, daughter of John Alexandre builder of Spring Lawn. In 1994 Miss Alexandre sold the house to Dr. and Mrs. Milos Krofta. In 2004 it was acquired by Barbara Crosby.

BIBLIOGRAPHY and/or REFERENCES:

Valuation of the Property, Lenox Library

Wood David, Lenox: Shire Town, P193.

Book of Berkshire P144

Lenox Assessor’s database

[1] Berkshire Athenaeum/Pittsfield Library, History Department, Architects file.

[2] Henry F. Withey, AIA and Elsie Rathburn Withey, Biographical Dictionary of American Architects (Deceased)(Los Angeles: Hennessey & Ingalls, Inc., 1970) p 264.

[3] Massachusetts Cultural Resource Inventory System (MACRIS) online at: <http://mhc-macris.net>

[4] Berkshire Athenaeum/Pittsfield Library, History Department, Architects file.

71 Yokun Ave., John E. Parson’s Estate – c.1895

Stoneover Yokun Ave

71 Yokun Av
71 Yokun Ave., John E. Parson’s Estate – c.1895

From Surveys Completed 2011-2012 by the Lenox Historical Commission

ARCHITECTURAL DESCRIPTION:

This house displays a transitional architectural style from Gothic Revival to Queen Anne. The wood-framed building originally had an upright and wing form with cross-gable roof. Verge boards have scroll sawn ends, and there are exposed rafter ends. A broken-eave front gabled dormer is at the center of the roof. There is an exposed brick side wall chimney on the right facade. Cladding is wood clapboard on the first floor, wood shingle on the second. The front gabled right bay has an oculus in the gable, tall, narrow paired windows on the second floor over a canted bay window on the first. Modillions and a scroll sawn bracket ornament the underside of this second floor overhang. The foundation is constructed of large rough-faced cut stones and there is a basement-level entry under the porch. In addition to this being converted to a dwelling, the front gabled section on the left side has been added above the exposed basement. It has a 1-story extension off its left side at the first floor level that is supported by piers/pillars. The front porch, with a front gable entry feature and millwork railing, is another addition or reconstruction. Although it is complementary in style to the original building, the architectural details are larger in scale and the fenestration slightly different in this addition. Windows and doors are all likely replacements.

A 1.5-story barn is located southeast of the house. It has a cross-gable roof that extends over a rear ell. A broken-eave dormer with 6-light window is located on the street facade of the rear ell. Wood clapboard siding is on the first floor and vertical board and batten siding is above with a scalloped lower edge. There are three vehicle bays oriented to the north (facing the dwelling) and a 1-story, 1-stall garage has been added to its right side. It has a fieldstone foundation. An in-ground swimming pool is located behind the barn, south of the house. A semi-circular driveway has two access points on Yokun Avenue. A stream runs through the property south of the buildings.

HISTORICAL NARRATIVE:

This building was originally one of a group of three dependencies (accessory buildings) on the Stonover estate. It may have served as a caretaker’s dwelling, as well as other utilitarian needs such as a greenhouse on the basement level. This set of buildings predates the elaborate Stonover Farm, located in the far western part of the estate. The Stonover Mansion was located northeast of the site of this property; it was demolished in 1940. The 1876 Beers and 1904 Barnes and Farnham maps illustrate a group of three outbuildings as a part of the John E. Parson’s Estate.

Mr and Mrs. Ronald Woodger acquired the property in 1942. It was acquired by Mark Liponis in 1995.

BIBLIOGRAPHY and/or REFERENCES:

1876 Beers, 1894 Barnes and Jenks, 1904 Barnes and Farnham Maps, 1894 Barnes and Jenks Map

Lenox Town Hall Records

Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Woodger

Lenox Assessor’s Database-2012

101 Yokun Ave., Henry Braem House – 1929

Ehtelwyn_NEW

101 Yokun Av
101 Yokun Ave., Henry Braem House – 1929

From Surveys Completed 2011-2012 by the Lenox Historical Commission

ARCHITECTURAL DESCRIPTION:

This 2-story Tudor Revival style house is constructed with a masonry first floor and wood frame second story; cladding is stone, brick, stucco, and timber. The roof is hipped, clad with slate shingles, and has four shed dormers, two each on the front and rear, one on the left side. In addition there are three hipped dormers. There are four massive chimneystacks and one small brick center chimney. The first floor is finished with random ashlar stonework; half timbering on the upper stories is infilled with either stucco or brick laid up in a crazy course fashion. The window and door lintels are limestone. The house has an asymmetrical massing and articulated front facade. An L-shaped building footprint provides for a courtyard entrance on its north side. A 2-story, 4-bay, hipped roof, projecting service wing with garages creates the second side of the courtyard. Two arched vehicle bays are in its north side. The main section of the house has a 3-bay front facade plus a small pavilion on its left that extends forward, not only of the front facade, but also of the right side of the house. This pavilion has a steeply pitched front gable roof that extends down to the first floor on the right side with a half-timbered hipped dormer on it, and has a large exposed chimney stack of both stone (in the lower section) and brick (upper) on its front. The entrance vestibule has a steeply pitched front gable roof with flared eaves and wide verge board. There is half-timbering in its gable and in the upper portion of the door surround. Small kneewalls of timber and basket-weave brickwork complete the door surround. The intact front door is arched with a 1-light window, decorative faux nail-head band, and large decorative strap hinges. Decorative lead drainage pipes flank the front vestibule. To the right of the entrance is an arched window at mid-floor level (indicative of an interior stair landing). A recessed, 4-bay wide, right side ell with hipped roof and half-timbered hipped-roof dormer extends from the right rear (southwest) corner of the house. It contains a rear entrance. On the rear facade a 1-story ell provides for a south-facing balcony; a canted bay window at the second floor projects into it. A raised terrace extends along the remaining portion of the rear facade. The windows appear to be intact, mostly pairs of 6-light or 12-light casements and some single 8-light casements.

A detached, cross-gabled, 3-stall garage is located west of the house. It has half-timbered siding to match the style of the house. An original 2-story carriage house, also matching the Tudor Revival style of the house, is located in the western section of the property. It has had several major additions. Other minor outbuildings surround it, as do large parking areas.

A long curvilinear paved driveway extends off Yokun Avenue where it bends southward from its east-west connection to Cliffwood Street. The driveway runs along the north side of the property, connecting to the courtyard, and a large parking area west of the house, east of the detached garage. It continues past the garage to provide access to the carriage barn complex farther west. A fountain is located in the front yard. There are many mature coniferous and deciduous trees scattered throughout the grounds, and extensive open lawn areas.

HISTORICAL NARRATIVE:

NOTE: “Holstead [sic] Lindsley” labeled on 1939 Sanborn Map.

The original Ethelwynde was built on this site by Henry Braem in 1875. Ethelwynde was demolished in 1928. In 1929 Halstead Lindsley bought the property, razed the old house, and built the present one. Mr. Lindsley lived here until his death in 1948, when it was sold to Mrs. Gordon Dexter of New York. The property changed hands several more times and on May 10, 1976 it was sold to Krofta Engineering for use as offices. On December 24, 1999 it was transferred to the founder of Krofta Engineering, Milos Krofta and on March 3, 2003 it was purchased by Jamie and Ethan Berg (Ethylwynde LLC).

The following is taken from a Rural Intelligence article (The Winthrop Estate: New Life for a Gilded Age Mansion) posted on the internet by Dan Shaw on August 19, 2009.

Like so many of the gilded age mansions, the Tudor house was dying a slow death. It had been barely touched for decades and was about to be foreclosed even though it was being used improbably as a corporate headquarters. “There were fluorescent lights and office carpeting, but it seemed to have beautiful bones,” says Ethan, who recalls all the people who worked there wore heavy coats because the thermostat was kept low since it was so expensive to heat. In 2003, the Bergs moved into the house and camped out in the paneled library because it was the coziest room and had a working fireplace. After six months, they moved next door to a modest 1950s house that is also part of the 45 acre estate, where they live with their children. “I would sit in the empty mansion and try to take cues from it,” says Ethan. “I thought, let’s lead with quality and the rest will take care of itself.”

He envisioned the house filled with music and interesting people—and now it is. The Bergs have developed parallel missions for the mansion, which is known as both the Lenox Athenaeum and the Winthrop Estate. As the Athenaeum, it hosts readings (by authors such as Simon Winchester), chocolate and wine tastings, and chamber music concerts (with superstars like Emanuel Ax or Yehuda Hanani, who stores his piano in their music room) for charities like the Lenox Library or Charley’s Fund. As the Winthrop Estate, it can be rented out in its entirety for family reunions or weddings.

BIBLIOGRAPHY and/or REFERENCES:

1939 Sanborn Map

Rural Intelligence article (The Winthrop Estate: New Life for a Gilded Age Mansion)

Lenox-Massachusetts Shire Town. David Wood, 1969 P. 192

Clipping file, Berkshire Athenaeum

Lenox Assessor’s database