Category Archives: People and Places

Human activity including migrations, individual people, families and the institutions they formed in Lenox. Geography, historic sites and homes in Lenox.

Tanglewood Music Center History

Tanglewood History Begins at the Hanna Farm

Tanglewood Beginnings with Concert at Hanna Farm
The First Berkshire Music Festival Performance at Dan Hanna’s Farm in Stockbridge

Despite the dark days of the Depression, conductor-composer Henry Hadley worked with Gertrude Robinson Smith and others to put together the first Berkshire Symphonic Music Festival in August 1934.  The three performances – August 23, 25, and 26 attracted about 5,000 including Sara Delano Roosevelt – the President’s mother.

Held in the open, reviews included comments such as “Provision for everything has been made except, possibly, for the distant but luckless chauffeur who fell on his F sharp horn during a passage in D flat major.”*  Certainly the atmosphere was more lighthearted than the usual indoor winter symphony performance.  Overall reviews were good and Gertrude Robinson incorporated the Berkshire Symphonic Music Festival in the fall of 1934.

Tent Providing Scant Shelter for Year 2
Tent Providing Scant Shelter for Year 2

In 1935 the three day festival was again held at the Hanna farm.  The performance included a larger orchestra and a local chorus of 300.  Although it provided scant shelter, the second year included a large tent.

Serge Koussevitzky and Holmwood

Henry Hadley was too ill to continue and the Festival trustees sought a more permanent solution.  They had the good fortune to perform a bond with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and their “hot” new conductor, Serge Koussevitzky.

The third summer the performance was held at Holmwood (home of Margaret Emerson ).  The famous orchestra and conductor drew an even bigger crowd – the attendance at the three performances was nearly 15,000.

Koussevitzky was lobbying for a longer (six concerts over two weeks) schedule when the group received a remarkable gift.

Music Festival Moves to Tanglewood

Tanglewood Gifted to BSO in 1936
Tanglewood Gifted to BSO in 1936

In 1936 Mrs. Gorham   Brooks and Mary Aspinwall Tappan donated their summer home, Tanglewood to the Boston Symphony Orchestra.  The home, outbuildings and 200 acres of lawn, trees and garden overlooking the Stockbridge Bowl provided a permanent home in a beautiful setting for the Berkshire Symphonic Festival.

After The Famous Rain Storm Came the Shed

Rainstorm in 1937 led to construe lion of Shed at Tanglewood
Rain Drenches Concert Goers at Tanglewood August 1937

For the summer of 1937  Koussevitzky had expanded the schedule to six performances over between August 5 and August 15.

One of the performances, on August 12, included a downpour so severe that it interrupted – in a moment of perfect dramatic timing – Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries,”

The “Boston Globe” reported that “Gertrude Robinson Smith strode purposefully to the stage when the concert stopped and addressed the record crowd of 5,000, haranguing: “Now do you see why we must have a permanent building for these concerts?’’ In minutes, more than $30,000 was raised.”  Later the sum would expand to $80,000*

Koussevitzky declared that he wold never again undertake a festival season at Stockbridge with only a tent between his orchestra and disaster.*

The planning began with Eliel Saarinen, the Finnish architect and friend of Sibelius.   He proposed a design that proved both too elaborate and too costly. His second, simplified plans were still too expensive; he finally wrote that if the Trustees insisted on remaining within their budget, they would end up with “just a shed.” The Trustees then turned to Stockbridge engineer Joseph Franz. The building he erected was inaugurated on August 4, 1938,

The six 1938 concerts drew 38,000 from all over the country and abroad.  The Festival had come of age in four short years with a Western Union Tanglewood telegraph office on the grounds to handle the copy of the numerous newspaper and magazine writers in attendance and a national broadcasting hookup.

Koussevitzky kicked off the new venue with the Bach cantata built around “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”  (another moment of drama!)

Atmosphere

From the beginning the Festival had set out to expand the reach of classical music beyond the confines of wealthy winter city dwellers.  Educating and developing musical talent was an early goal.  The informality of the shed and the expansive acerage contributed to this desired spirit of accessibility.

*The Tale of Tanglewood (59-61) describes the result:  “in the summer of 1939 there would be found tents in which enterprising members of the orchestra were camping out, chopping wood, cooking their meals…..”

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

Although it’s been a long time since anyone has seen a tent on the lawn, the effort to be open and democratic continues.  Performances  are staffed with volunteers and audiences can still get inexpensive lawn tickets and picnic under the stars (or an umbrella if necessary!).

In 1940 the school of music – the Music Center – held its first session with approximately 300 students and the Festival was expanded from six performances over two weeks to nine performances over three weeks.  By 1941 attendance had grown to about 95,000.

As the Festival grew to national proportions touched off a rash of renting out rooms and starting up “Tourist Homes” and shops.  The peaceful village filled with motor cars and must have touched off all the mixed feelings Lenox experiences today — cheering the business brought in by summer visitors but whining about the traffic.

Tanglewood During the Second World War

By 1941, the Theatre-Concert Hall, the Chamber Music Hall, and several small studios were finished, and the festival was attracting nearly 100,000 visitors annually.  “Gala Benefits” were added that year to raise funds for war-related causes.  The benefits included music and famous speakers (including Eleanor Roosevelt).

War conditions forced cancellation of the 1942-1945  full Festival schedule.  However the Music Center students performed in 1942 with benefits for Treasury War bonds and Russian relief.  With the assistance of some members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra,  Koussevitzky led a Mozart series at the Tanglewood Theatre Concert Hall in 1944 and a Mozart-Bach series at in 1945.

The Festival returned in 1946 with the full Boston Symphony Orchestra and a nine concert schedule.

Growth and Upgrades

Renamed the Serge Koussevitzky Shed
Renamed the Serge Koussevitzky Shed

In 1959 installation of the Edmund Hawes Talbot Orchestra Canopy, along with other improvements, produced the Shed’s present world-famous acoustics. For its fiftieth anniversary in 1988, the Shed was rededicated as “The Serge Koussevitzky Music Shed.”

Continued musical excellence plus the end of rationing, the post war boom and the completion of the Mass Pike all contributed to growing audiences. Audiences and tourism to the Berkshires continued to expand in the 1950’s and 1960’s

Tanglewood Lawn - c. 1960
Tanglewood Lawn – c. 196

The 1986 addition of the adjacent Highwood estate expanded Tanglewood’s public grounds by 40 percent. The newly acquired property

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

became the site for a new concert hall to replace the outmoded Theatre-Concert Hall and for improved

Seiji Ozawa Hall
Seiji Ozawa Hall

Tanglewood Music Center facilities. Inaugurated on July 7, 1994, Seiji Ozawa Hall provides a new venue for Tanglewood Music Center concerts, and for varied recital and chamber music concerts.

Today Tanglewood annually draws over 350,000 visitors and continues to provide education and inspiration for young musicians.

————

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

Tanglewood/Boston Symphony Orchestra website

Wikipedia

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.

———-

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.

———

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 – 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

Many of the historic houses of Hawthorne Street are actually in Stockbridge – but they’re often associated with Lenox.

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.

The Morris Family

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.

————————————-

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.

———-

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

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

———————————-

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

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.

———————

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