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.

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 - 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 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.


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 - 1888
Rocklawn (89 Cliffwood St.)  – 1888

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




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 - 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 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 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.


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 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.



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

Lenox as a Resort – Yokun Ave. Cottages


Windy side - 1875
Windy side – 1875 (Lenox Library)

Windyside (111 Yokun)  was built  by Boston physician Richard Cranch Greenleaf (1845-1913) and his wife Adeline Emma Stone (1849-

Lenox Golf Club
Lenox Golf Club

1936).  It is notable as one of the few stick style wooden buildings still standing in Lenox.

History of the Lenox Club (and Windyside) Now Available
History of the Lenox Club (and Windyside) Now Available

For awhile, the it had the additional distinction of having one of the earliest American designed golf courses.

Upon Greenleaf’s death  in 1913 the house, outbuildings golf course and the entire ninety acres was purchased by the Club which moved in 1914 from its smaller club house on Walker St.

In 1924 the nine hole golf course was expanded to eighteen holes and the ‘Lenox Golf Club’ was formed in association with the Aspinwall and Curtis Hotels both of which used the course for their guests.
The arrangement lasted until 1932 when the Aspinwall Hotel burned. This event and the difficult financial situation caused by the Great Depression led to abandonment of the golf course which gradually became replaced by a heavily wooded forest.
Interest in the Club was revived and major improvements to the clubhouse and grounds were initiated in the 1980s.The course was expanded in the 1920’s and shared with the Curtis and the Aspinall.  The destruction of the Aspinall and the general financial mayhem of the 1930’s made the gold course unaffordable and it is now grown in.  Fortunately, the Lenox Club was revived in the 1980’s and the building survives as a private club.

Ethelwyn/Ethelwynde I and II

Ethelwyn - 1875
Ethelwyn – 1875
Henry Braem
Henry Braem

In 1875 Henry Braem (associated with the Cunrad Line and ambassador to Denmark) built the original Ethelwyn (or Ethelwynde) off Yokun Ave.  Then as now, his neighbor was Windyside (now the Lenox Club) built around the same time.

In the 1870’s Henry also built a model farm on Undermountain Road.

In 1893 he sold the estate to the widow of Robert Winthrop who was also the mother of Grenville Winthrop, who would go on to build Groton Place in 1905

"Grandma Winthrop" Lived at Ethelwyn owned Ethelwyn until 1925
“Grandma Winthrop” Owned Ethelwyn until 1925

on West. St.  The Wintwops were “those” Winthrop’s who led the great migration and had generations of wealth and notoriety.  Mrs. Wintrop (ne’ Kate Taylor) was wealthy in her own right.  Her father had been a partner of Cornelius Vanderbilt and first president of City Bank (predecessor of the modern Citibank).

Mrs. Winthrop was, not surprisingly, a social leader in Lenox and New York.  Among other things, she was active in the summer garden club competitions (think Downton Abbey).

Ethelwyn (Ethelwynde) II (111 Yokun) - 1928
Ethelwyn (Ethelwynde) II (111 Yokun) – 1928 (Lenox Library)

In 1928 the house was purchased by Halstead Lindsley.  He tore down the wood framed original house and had a local architect, Benjamin Greeley, construct the modern Tudor-style mansion that stands today.  Recently operated as an upscale cultural retreat, it is now a private home.

Stonover I and II

 Stonover - 1875
Stonover – 1875

Ethelwyn had Winndyside as a neighbor on one side and Stonover as a neighbor on the other. Still a lovely street today, Yokun Ave. was newly created in 1874-1875 and must have been quite spectacular from the 1870’s on.

John Parsons
John Parsons

Stonover was built by John Edward Parsons, (1829-1915) a New York Attorney. Among others, his clients included the American Sugar Company. He defended them to the Supreme Court in an anti trust case – very Gilded Age!
The estate spread from Yokun to Undermountain Road and encompassed

Drive on Stonover Property
Drive on Stonover Property

the area now known as Parson’s Marsh. the still standing Stonover Farm and over Lenox Mountain to what is now the Audubon Bird Sanctuary.

His son Herbert

Stonover Farm - Undermountain Road
Stonover Farm – Undermountain Road

inherited the farm (and died there in the 1920’s a freak accident). His daughters (Mary and Gertrude) inherited the house and after some adventuresome travel, re-invented it in 1921 with a Delano and Aldrich design.

Stonover II - 1921
Stonover II – 1921

They moved the house further back on the property, dispensed with the turrets and mansard roof and created a sleek stucco house that became a center of mid 20th century culture with speakers like Alexander Kerensky. Mary (Gertrude died in 1927 on a trip to Italy).

Mary donated the Pleasant Valley Bird Sanctuary in honor of her two deceased siblings.  In a move of less certain long term value, she became interested in re-populating local beavers (hence Parson’s Marsh.)

Stonover II was demolished in 1942 and replaced with a 20th century house.

Gusty Gable

Gusty Gables 1879
Gusty Gables 1879 (Lenox Library)

Shortly after Yokun Ave. opened Mary de Pester Carey Sr.  (in her ’60’s at the time), her daughter Mary de Pester Jr., and a close family friend, Katherine Buckley Sands pooled their resources to purchase a five acre plot and build

Charles McKim (1847-1909)
Charles McKim (1847-1909)

Gusty Gables.  The Colonial Shingle Style home is the only surviving Lenox design of Charles McKim.

The survivor of the three, Mary Carey, was an avid horsewoman and active in the Village Improvement Society. She, with Edith Wharton and Florence Sturgis awarded prizes for the best-kept village lawns and front gardens.

Gusty Gables (75 Yokun) as it Appears in 2016
Gusty Gables (58 Yokun) as it Appears in 2016

Carolyn Cobb, a later owner hired Pittsfield architect Henry Seaver to update the McKim design to a more formal Colonial Revival style.  The building survives as a private residence.



View of Stonover from Edgecombe Drive

The ladies of Gusty Gables must have been pleased when their New York friend, Miss Clementine Furniss decided to build Edgecombe next door.  The

Edgecombe - 1880
Edgecombe – 1880
Edgecombe Caretaker Cottage
Edgecombe Caretaker Cottage

whimsical and rambling building apparently still standing in the mid 1980’s  at the corner of Yokun and Sunset (it’s mentioned in Carole Owens’ The Berkshire Cottages) 

The caretaker’s cottage (much altered) still stands on Sunset.


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 – Walker Street Cottages

*The Bishop Guest Houses

35 Walker St.
35 Walker St.
45 Walker St
45 Walker St.

Thirty five and forty five Walker were built as “overflow” guest houses for the Bishop family

Thirty Five, called the Henry W. Bishop House was built in 1885 and is currently (2016) an inn.

Forty Five, called the David W. Bishop House was built in 1895 and is currently offices.


51 Walker St., Harley Proctor House - c. 1912
51 Walker St., Harley Procter House – c. 1912

Built as a summer home for Harley Procter, the classical revival style house is said to have been designed to resemble a bar of Ivory Soap.

Harley Procter, son of one of the founders, introduced many of the concepts of modern advertising and marketing.  He  presumably cashed in big when the P & G partnership incorporated in 1890.

Henry Proctor (1847-1920)
Henry Procter (1847-1920)

The Procters occupied the house for just a short time, selling it in 1919 to Graham Root, who used it as a real estate office. Subsequent uses included a charm school in the 1930’s, a guesthouse, and office space. In 1942 it became Gateways Inn, by which name it is still known.

*The Old Lenox Club/Community Center

The Old Lenox Club - 1860's?
The Old Lenox Club – 1860’s?

Heaven forbid the gentleman visiting their estates in Lenox should be without a place to hobnob, so they founded the Lenox Club in 1864.  They built a “modest” (at least in terms of the excesses of the day) clubhouse mid century and proceeded to bowl in their own

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 7.14.57 PM
On the Porch of the Old Lenox Club (Lenox Library)

bowling alley, smoke cigars, play cards, etc. It was incorporated as a reading club for gentlemen in 1874.

Later the club leased a nine-hole private golf course off Yokun on property belonging to Dr. John C. Greenleaf.

In 1914, after Dr. Greenleaf’s death,  the house, outbuildings golf course and the entire ninety acres was purchased by the Club. In 1924 the nine hole golf course was expanded to eighteen holes and the ‘Lenox Golf Club’ was formed in association with the Aspinwall and Curtis Hotels both of which used the course for their guests.
The arrangement lasted until 1932 when the Aspinwall Hotel burned. This event and the difficult financial situation caused by the Great Depression led to abandonment of the golf course which gradually became replaced by a heavily wooded forest.
Very active interest in the Club was revived and major improvements to the clubhouse and grounds were initiated in the 1980s.

Community Center (65 Walker) - 1924
Community Center (65 Walker) – 1924

In 1921 George E. Turnure purchased the Walker St. site and built a new community center in memory of his son who had been killed in the First World War. This new community center became the home of the Lenox Brotherhood Club, an organization made up of the union of the Men’s clubs of the Episcopal and Congregational Churches. The community center provided recreational facilities such as a tennis court, billiard room, gymnasium, and bowling alley. The center also has a large hall and stage. Membership in the club expanded in the 1930’s and eventually became open to all. It is currently owned by the Town of Lenox, and provides programs for the community such as the Council on Aging for seniors, youth programs, fitness classes, and meeting space.

*Pine Acre

Pine Acres (81 Walker St.)
Pine Acre (81 Walker St.) – 1885

Mrs. M. E. Rogers of Philadelphia had this house built in 1885, for use as a summer residence. By 1890 the house had been rented for the season to John Burrell, and in 1892 it was sold to Nancy W. Wharton (Mrs. William C.) who summered here with her daughter.

Mrs. Wharton’s son, Edward, (1850-1928) was

Edward (Teddy) Wharton
Edward (Teddy) Wharton.

married to novelist Edith Wharton who was to become one of the most illustrious residents of Lenox. After spending several summers in Newport, Edith Wharton, displeased with both the climate and the lack of intellectual life there, came to Lenox. She stayed at “Pine Acre”, home of her mother-in law and sister-in-law, who were abroad at the time. She was very impressed with Lenox that she returned to “Pine Acre” the following summer and, in February of 1902, returned to Lenox to look for a house site of her own. While looking for the site she stayed at the Curtis Hotel. She spent one last summer at “Pine Acre” in 1902, while her house, “The Mount”, was under construction.

Mrs. William C. Wharton continued to stay at “Pine Acre” for several summers until her death in August of 1909 in Lenox.  Teddy Wharton spent many of his declining years here after he and Edith divorced.

For awhile the property was run as an inn and known as “Three Gables,” or “The Gables.”  It is currently (2016) condominiums.

*Col Oliver House

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 4.45.30 PM
91 Walker St. – 1895

This property was originally owned by William T. Walker and his wife and was sold to Edwin Spencer in 1852.  Mrs. Marion R. Oliver built this house on the site of an earlier house, built by Edwin (Edmund?) Spencer in 1852,  and by 1896, had the original house demolished and a more fashionable one built in its place. In 1896 the property was sold to Mr. and Mrs. John Struthers, frequent summer visitors to Lenox. The Struthers’ christened the house “Wynnstay.” and used it for many years as a summer residence. It is currently operated as an inn under the name “Hampton Inn.”

Ventfort Hall

Bel Air/ Vent Fort
Bel Air/ Vent Fort

Ogden Haggerty, a successful banker and intellectual, had been visiting the Wards and the Sedgwicks for a number of years and often renting a property from Mr. Stanley located where Ventfort Hall is today.  In 1853 The Haggertys purchased the property and built a home of their own.

Ventfort (104 Walker) - 1893
Ventfort (104 Walker) – 1893

In 1891, Sarah and George Morgan purchased the property, moved the original Vent Fort across the street, and used Rotch and Tilden to build a Jacobean mansion of their own.

The original Vent Fort was being used by Lenox Country Day school when it burned in 1961.  Much of the extensive average of the Morgan’s Ventfort were sold off for Morgan Manor and individual house lots.  The mansion sits on the remaining average and has been restored and is open as a Museum of the Gilded Age.

*Sunny Bank

Sunny Bank - 1865
Sunny Bank – 1865

This wood frame home was built in 1865 for General and Mrs. F. C. Barlow.   When the Bruno Aron family was running Ventfort Hall as Festival House, Sunny Bank was used for overflow guests.  It is currently a private home.

Francis C. Barlow
Francis C. Barlow

Francis Channing Barlow (1834-1896), despite his obvious youth in this photo, became a general by the end of the Civil War.  In the small world category, he married, at the end of the war, the sister of Robert Gould Shaw who had married Annie Kneeland Haggerty and honeymooned at Ventfort Hall.  A lawyer by training, F.C. Barlow founded the American Bar Association.


Thistle wood - 1887
Thistle wood – 1887

In 1887, Mr. and Mrs. David Lydia needed an escape from Westchester.  The family estate, West Farms was being incorporated into the Bronx.  They hired Rotch and Tilden to build the lovely Colonial Revival at 151 Walker St.  The interior has been significantly altered but the exterior and grounds remain quite similar to the original design.  It is a private home.


*Technically these were just very nice summer homes – not quite up to the gigantic scale of the “cottages.”


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 – Kemble St. Cottages

Frelinghuysen Cottage

Frelinghuysen House (xx Kemble) - 1888
Frelinghuysen House (2 Kemble St.) – 1888

Frederick T. Frelinghuysen, who served as Secretary of State under Chester A. Arthur,  and his wife Martha Griswold Frelinghuysen built this house in 1888 (some sources say 1881)  The house, designed by Roth & Tilden, was handsomely furnished, and the

Frederick T. Freylingjuysen (1817-1885)
Frederick T. Freylingjuysen (1817-1885)

Frelinghuysen’s entertained lavishly, with former President Arthur among their many guests. Frederick Olmsted was consulted on the landscape.

Both the Griswold and Frelinghuysen families had distinguished histories with many past and present ties to Lenox.

The house was subsequently owned by Thatcher Adams, who renamed it “Sundrum House” R.J. Flick purchased the property in the early 1930’s and lived in it while his estate “Uplands”, was under construction. It was then sold to Mrs. Charles F. Bassett who gave the school to the Lenox School for Boys for use as a dormitory.  It is (2016) currently Kemble Inn.

The Hive/ Spring Lawn

"The Hive"
“The Hive”

Lenox is a great place to play the “what used to be here?” game on a grand scale.  Charles and Elizabeth Sedgwick purchased property on what is now Kemble Street and moved a house there.  They quickly expanded to “The Hive” to accommodate their growing family and many guest.

Spring Lawn (1904)
Spring Lawn (10 Kemble St.) -1904

It was replaced in 1903 when J.E. Alexander built Spring Lawn – still standing today; shown here from the same angle as “The Hive.” – not as usually seen from Kemble Street.

John Ernest Alexandre (1840-1910) was a wealthy shipping executive.  He,  his wife, Helen Lispenard Webb (1857-1929) and their daughters had been coming to Lenox for a decade and were renting the Frelinghuysen house next door when Spring Lawn was being built by Boston architect Guy Lowell.

The house was used by Lenox School for Boys and Shakespeare and Company.  When used by the Lenox School for Boys, it was known as Schermerhorn Hall.  It is currently (2016) slated to be part of a time share development.

Sunnycroft (Gone But Not Forgotten)

Sunnycroft - 1888
Sunnycroft – 1888

George Griswold Haven (1866-1925) built Sunnycroft in 1888 using John D. Johnson as architect and John Huss for landscaping.  In 1926 it became the first building used by the Lenox School for Boys and was known as Griswold Hall.  It was demolished in 1940 after St. Martin’s Hall was built.

George G. Haven seemingly had all the gilded age trappings:  two wives (Elizabeth Shaw Ingersoll, then Dorothy James), distinguished family ties, business in all the turn of the century favorite — coal, railroads and banking.  However, he had a nervous breakdown in 1924 and took his own life.

Clipston Grange

Clipston Grange (30 Kemble St.) - 1850 and 1894
Clipston Grange (30 Kemble St.) – 1850 and 1894

The paneled core of Clipston Grange is an old village house, which originally stood at the junction of Main and Cliffwood Street. George G. Haven, New York stockbroker, Lenox real estate

Clipston Grange as it Appears in 2016
Clipston Grange as it Appears in 2016

speculator and future next door neighbor to Clipston Grange moved the old house to Kemble Street in 1893. Frank and Florence Sturgis enlarged the house in 1894 in the colonial revival style adorning the roofline with a parapet, installing elegant bow windows in the dining room and study, and adding a new reception room at the south end. The architect is unknown.

F.K. Sturgis
F.K. Sturgis

A childless couple, the Sturgises were devoted to animals. Florence Sturgis’ family property is now the Bronx Zoo, and Sturgis was a founder of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. He served a term as president of the New York Stock Exchange, and on the building committee of Madison Square Garden, on the boards of the Jockey Club and the New York Coaching Club. Florence Sturgis died in 1922, four years later Sturgis left Clipston Grange to the Lenox School for Boys, which was at the time based in Sunnycroft next door to Clipston Grange.

Currently (2016) the property is a private home.

The Perch/ Winter Palace

The Perch(1849) - Fanny Kemble
The Perch (1849) – Fanny Kemble
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The Perch
Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 10.00.07 AM
The Perch

Fannie Kemble (Butler), actress and all round character, is mentioned by just about everyone who swarmed to mid 19th century Lenox.

She spent some time at The Curtis and various rentals but eventually carved out a place for herself across from what is now Canyon Ranch on Kemble Street.

Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 10.03.40 AM
Young Frannie Kemble
Older Frannie Kemble
Older Frannie Kemble

It was razed and replaced in 1900 by “The Winter Palace.”

The Winter Palace - 1900
The Winter Palace – 1900

The owner, Courtlandt Field Bishop owned property from here through Old Stockbridge Road to Winden Hill–overlapping the current Bishop’s Estate Development.

Cortland Field Bishop
Cortland Field Bishop

His home, Ananda Hall was built in 1924 on Old Stockbridge Road and razed in 1940.


Postcard of Bellefontaine in all its Glory - Rear Entrance
Postcard of Bellefontaine in all its Glory – Rear Entrance

Bellefontaine was built in 1896-1898 for Giraud and Jean Foster. Giraud Foster (born in 1851) lived at Bellefontaine until his death in 1945 and could be considered to have watched over the sunset of Lenox’s Gilded Age.

Somewhat reconstituted after a fire, it is now Canyon Ranch (165 Kemble)

Bellefontaine and its inhabitants were extensively described in a recent lecture at Ventforet Hall by Richard Jackson, Jr.


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 – Evolution of Beecher’s Hill

Henry Ward Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe
Henry Ward Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe

Henry Ward Beecher became minister of Plymouth Congregational Church in Brooklyn (shown here with his equally famous sister Harriet Beecher Stowe) in 1847. He spent time in Lenox 1853-1857. A progressive active in the anti-slavery movement, he became part of the early Lenox intelligentsia.

His stopovers included visiting the Lenox Sedgwicks and preaching at Church on the Hill. He and his family stayed at a house they called Blossom Farm.

Blossom Farm
It was located on what is now Route 20/ Lee Road in an area called, for awhile, Beecher Hill.

In a great example of historical connect the dot, this property was part of a 75 acre plot sold in 1770 to Timothy Way and Samuel Jerome. Samuel Jerome is alleged to be an ancestor of Jenny Jerome, Churchill’s American mother who had come to Elizabeth Sedgwick’s school at the Hive.

In 1803 the hill was sold to Ezra Blossom — the gaoler of Lenox (jailer/sheriff). Blossom built a farmhouse, planted fruit trees, and named the property Blossom Hill.

Blossom Farm
Blossom Farm

In December 1814, Blossom’s advertisement for the sale of Blossom Hill included a description: “26 acres with a good orchard which makes about twenty barrels of cider annually…a house on the premises, nearly new and well-furnished, and a convenient barn and other out-buildings.”

In 1850 the property was sold to Charles Hotchkiss, Headmaster of the Lenox Academy.

In September, 1853, Hotchkiss sold Blossom Hill to  Beecher. Standing on the brow of his hill, Beecher wrote, “From here I see the very hills of heaven.” He claimed he could see “a range of sixty miles by the simple turn of the eye.”

In his day, Beecher was called one of the most famous men alive, but his sister, Harriet Beecher Stowe author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, would eclipse him.

Beecher was named correspondent in a divorce case – not a proper role for a clergyman – and his fortunes began to unravel. Before the scandal, the $4,500 to purchase Blossom Farm was raised by a grateful congregation and a grateful publisher.

From Blossom Farm to Wyndhurst I

General John F. Rathbone
General John F. Rathbone

After the scandal, Beecher lost his New York pulpit and was forced to sell the Lenox property. Beecher sold it to General John F. Rathbone for the tidy sum of $8,000.
The old farmhouse was moved to accommodate the first Wyndhurst in 1857. Although quite opulent by mid-century standards it was destined to be replaced.

The First Lyndhurst - 1857
The First Lyndhurst – 1857

In 1893 Lenox was dubbed “the Queen of resorts,” and Rathbone sold Wyndhurst to John Sloane for the amazing price of $50,000. Sloane retained the name Wyndhurst, but razed the house and Blossom Farm

J.D. Sloane was the brother of W. D. Sloane (Elm Court). Together they established WJ Sloane & Co. in New York City.

The Second Wyhdhurst - 1894 - Now Called Cranwell
The Second Wyhdhurst – 1894 – Now Called Cranwell

Sloane’s Wyndhurst met the new standard in Berkshire Cottages. It was a Tudor mansion built of Perth Amboy brick designed by Peabody and Stearns. The landscape architect was Frederick Law Olmsted.

There was a stable with 16 boxes, a poultry shelter, and cow barn. Milk and cream were shipped daily to the family in New York and produce was shipped three times a week. Everything necessary was on the estate to maintain the Gilded Age lifestyle including obligatory visit of President of the United States (McKinley) as a dinner guest in 1897.

Luxurious Coldbrook Neighbor

Coldbrook, begun in 1882
Coldbrook, begun in 1882 Became Joseph’s Hall as Part of the Jesuit Boy’s School 1939-1975

Meanwhile, at the back of the hill, another family had built their own enormous cottage. U.S. Naval Captain, John S. Barnes, Flag Officer of the North Atlantic Fleet during the Civil War, purchased the land for $10,000 in 1882 and erected Coldbrook. The railroad entrepreneur kept expanding the Peabody and Stearns original shingle style Queen Anne.

Pinecroft (Gone but not Forgotten)

Pinecroft -
Pinecroft -1865
Adeline Schermerhorn?
Adeline Schermerhorn?

Pinecroft is described as being adjacent to the Haggertys (Vent Fort) and later, across the street from Thistlewood.  It is identified as one of the properties combined with Coldbrook and Wyndhurst to form a hunt then golf club.  From that evidence, best guess is that it was roughly between the modern location of Schmerhorn Court and the Pinecroft development.

To picture the combined estates, you have to imagine a world without Route 20.

Unusual for Lenox at the time, it was brick and stood at least until 1890 since it is, as noted above, mentioned in the article sending up the construction of Thistlewood.

It was built for the recently widowed Adeline Schermerhorn.  She is particularly remembered in Lenox for purchasing the second courthouse (now out of use with the court having moved to Pittsfield) in 1872 for use as the town library.  One of her daughters, Ellen, married Richard Tylden Auchmuty.  They would go on to build The Dormers and play a very active role in the construction of the new Trinity church.


Highlawn (Maybe) – 1870’s?

The southeastern end of this cluster of “cottages” began its story with another adulterous clergyman.  Another celebrity preacher, Rev. Russell Salmon Cook (1811-1864).   In 1853 he purchased property in Lenox that included a ramshackle farm house.  In a dust up over money and the Reverend’s third (fourth?) marriage, he needed to abandon his property.

It was taken over by two New York brothers (one a bachelor, the other a widower), Francis and George Dorr.   They expanded the house and planted the grounds – including large specimen trees. Their property made up about half of the several hundred acres acquired by Robert Paterson for what would become Blantyre.

Blantyre - 1902
Blantyre – 1902

Robert Paterson was introduced to the Lenox area in the late 1890’s by his friend John Sloan (of W&J Sloane).

Paterson tore down the modest Dorr house, keeping the outbuildings and started  building a property on a grand scale,  He  told his architect, Robert Henderson Robertson. that he wanted a castle of “feudal architectural features,” replete with towers, turrets and gargoyles.

Mr. and Mrs. Paterson at Their Large Organ
Mr. and Mrs. Paterson at Their Large Organ

The house was modeled after his mother’s ancestral home in Blantyre, Scotland. Construction began in 1901, at times employing over 300 people on the grounds and buildings.

The main house was furnished in the English style with all the furniture being brought in from England. The family used the house for the summer and fall and there were garden parties with musicians imported from New York and grand dinner-dances with each party becoming more and more lavish.

Blantyre - 1902
Blantyre – 1902

In the 1920’s the property evolved with its neighbors Wyndhurst and Coldbrook.  Blantyre deteriorated considerably in the 1970’s.  In the 1980’s it was restored by the late Ann Fitzpatrick Brown and is now run as a luxury hotel.

Properties Rise and Fall Together

By 1928, the party was over. The Gilded Age was ended, and the cottages were relics of a bygone era. On the hill, an ambitious plan for aBerkshire Hunt and Country Club combined four former estates – Wyndhurst, Coldbrook, Pinecroft, and Blantyre. Woodson R. Oglesby, former New York Congressman, started buying the estates at foreclosures.

On August 10, 1929 there was a full page spread about the second season of the Club. On an adjacent page it was reported that a Williams College professor warned, “Unemployment is a problem in need of an immediate solution.” A column on the financial page predicted, “The Stock Market will rally after a minor dip.” The Market crashed on Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929, two months and 19 days later.

The country was in depression. For a moment it looked as if those Club members would be untouched and the Club would continue. By 1933 the Club was assaulted by lawsuits and swamped in debt. In 1939, the land on the hill was sold for (approximately) $9,000 in back taxes.

New Identities in the Twentieth Century

For that price, Edward Cranwell bought the hill with two Berkshire Cottages: Wyndhurst and Coldbrook. In 1939, he gave it to the Jesuits to use as a school. The Jesuits named the school in honor of the donor — Cranwell Preparatory School.

The school closed in 1975. Coldbrook and Cranwell (Wyndhurst) are now operated as a condominium and resort complex, Pinecroft has been demolished, and Blantyre is a luxury hotel.


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, Cornelia Brooke Gilder with Julia Conklin Peters, The History Press, 2008

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

Lenox as a Resort – Plunkett, Lee Road

The Mount

Photos of the Mount, Edith Wharton Restorations Photos by Kevin Sprague
Photos of the Mount, Edith Wharton Restorations
Photos by Kevin Sprague

Fortunately both the buildings and grounds of Edith Wharton’s 1902 masterpiece have been largely restored.

Edith Wharton6a00d8341c562c53ef01901cc296b9970b-250wi
Edith Wharton (1862-1937)


The Mount is notable for its lightness and modernity in comparison to the many brick, Elizabethan houses being built in Lenox at the time.  The Mount, on Plunkett Street, is open to the public.





Nowood/Shipton Court

Shipton Court - 1911
Shipton Court – 1911 (Lenox Library)

Just down the street, the former 1885 “cottage” of Robert Spencer, Nowood (no pictures found) was purchased in 1911 by Another highly pedigreed family.

Gen. Meredith Read – Portrait at Shipton Court (Lenox Library)

Emily Meredith Read Spencer was a descendent of William Bradford and her husband descended from one of Stockbridge’s founding families.  In true gilded age fashion, Emily imported staircases from England, doubled the size and renamed it Shipton Court.

Emily hesitated to build her own “cottage” because she was afraid she wouldn’t live long enough.  Forty at the time, she apparently (no dates found) lived well into the 20th century (Cleveland Armory, The Last Resort) and entertained distinguished guests such as Isadora Duncan with Emily’s pet piglet “Rosie” running through the parlor.

Today it is an inn named Seven Hills.

Erskine Park

ErskineparkBefore there was Erskine Park there was Larchmont (dated 1879?).   We have little information about Erskine Park’s predecessor but we know that George and Marguerite Westinghouse bought the Henry De Bois Schenck farm of 100 acres overlooking Laurel Lake at the Lenox-Lee line.  After adding 500

Margaret Emerson Vanderbilt
Margaret Emerson Vanderbilt

acres, landscaping and completing the elaborate Queen Anne shown above in 1893, the Westinghouses split their time between this house, a house outside of Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C.

After they died in 1914, their son George Westinghouse Jr. sold the property to Margaret Emerson Vanderbilt, the widow of Alfred G. Vanderbilt.

Foxhollow including some recent additions.
Fox hollow (Holmwood) including some recent additions.

She demolished the existing house and built a large Colonial Revival house designed by Delano and Aldrich in 1919.  She named it Holmwood and spent a few weeks a year there.  In 1939, it was purchased by the Foxhollow School for girls.  In 1942 the school also bought The Mount next door.  The school closed in 1976 and the property became a condominium complex and  resort.

High Lawn

Lila Vanderbilt Sloane Field in Her NY Apartment
Lila Vanderbilt Sloane Field in Her NY Apartment

Margaret Emerson’s friend Lila Vanderbilt Sloane (1877 – 1934) decided to build her cottage, High Lawn, next door.

Like so many gilded age estates, High Lawn replaced an existing set of buildings.

Hockey at High Lawn - Built 1909
Hockey at High Lawn – Built 1909

Already called High Lawn, the original farm had been substantially improved by local horse breeder Elizur Smith.

Lila was the daughter of the  Sloane’s of Elm Court, so she stayed close to home.  She chose a very different (and more contemporary for the early 20th century) formal design by Delano & Aldrich.

Lila’s  husband, William Broadhurst Osgood Field (1870-1948) was a mechanical engineer and bibliophile.  With Morris Kellogg, Field became a leader in design and construction for chemical process plants.

High Lawn Farm Buildings
High Lawn Farm Buildings

The home remains in private hands and the farm is run as a professional dairy operation.  Many of the fanciful farm buildings, largely designed by estate architects Burnett & Hopkins of New York, remain standing as well and can be easily seen from the road.


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

The Lenox Academy

65 Main St., Lenox Academy - c. 1802
65 Main St., Lenox Academy – c. 1803

The Lenox Academy

The lovely Federalist Academy building (still standing on Main Street) attracted well educated Lenox residents and visitors who would set a tone for future centuries.   Although one of the most notable educational institutions, it was not the first.

Early Educational Efforts

Eighteenth century New England towns with 50 or more families (the minimum for a town) were required (in addition to building a meeting house and hiring a minister) to provide a schoolmaster to teach reading and writing.  Larger towns were required to provide a grammar school.

There was no requirement for a building and schooling might have taken place in people’s home or in the meeting house.  Part of whatever meager pay the school master’s received was in the form of room and board – obtained by moving from house to house.

No matter how well intentioned, it apparently took the town a while to move on this mandate as the first record relevant to this issue was a meeting March 16, 1770 in which it was voted to raise 20 pounds to hire schooling.

In the original proprietor’s agreement a lot (north of the current church) had been set aside for a school house.  By the early 19th century, the town had been divided into districts.  By 1860 there were nine districts.  It’s not clear what happened to the “school lot- #6” — perhaps it was sold to fund other school buildings.

As described by Tucker* these early school houses would have been crude and small with benches rather than seats or desks and heat from a large box stove.  Students would have to take turns bringing the kindling to start the fire.

A Private School in the Village

The village, referred to in records as District #2, included a private school supported by Major Azariah Egleston.  There is a record of Amasa Glezen being paid for teaching and for finding a house for the school in 1792.

The Lenox Library (it’s not clear how it was funded) was established in 1797 and would have provided an important source for reading material — books still being scarce and expensive.

Advancing to “Higher Education”

It’s difficult to make equivalencies to modern educational grades, but the petition to the state for incorporation of an academy , Jan. 5, 1803 would have been significant in that most locations at the time would have had nothing like a high school.  This academy (of course for males only!) would have taught Latin, math and other subjects that would have prepared these young men for a college education.

It is not clear whether it was the state, the town, or certain individuals, but someone owned a township in Maine (still part of Massachusetts at the time).  Half of said township was sold off make a payment on the Academy.  When combined with other private donations (led by the ubiquitous Revolutionary War veterans and town leaders Azariah Egleston and William Walker), it was enough to buy the land and build the handsome building still with us today.  The contributors read like a “who’s who,” of early 19th century Berkshire County:  the Rev. Thomas Allen of Pittsfield, Joseph Whiten of Lee, Ephraim of Sheffield, Rev. Jacob Catlen of New Marlboro, Barnabas Bidwell of Stockbridge, Thomas Ives of Great Barrington, Nathaniel Bishop of Richmond, and five additional Lenox citizens:  Rev. Samuel Shepard, Joseph Goodwin, Eldad Lewis, Captain Enos Stone and Dr. Caleb Hyde.

The Academy records giving Azirah Egleston $2200 May 21, 1807, for “38 3/4 rods of land together with the Academy now standing on the premises.”

There has been some debate about when the building was completed, but 1803 is generally accepted as the start date and clearly it was completed by 1807.  In fact, the building may have been standing before 1803.  The exchange above (between Amasa Glezen and Azirah Egleston) may have been for basic education or for an existing “academy” facility in 1792.

Teachers and Students

Levi Glezen was the first principal.  He had been a student at Williams and then gone on to establish himself as an educator in Kinderhook and Sheffield.  Another well known name in the list of educators who led the Academy was John Hotchkin.  A teacher of Latin and Greek, he was principal from 1823 to 1847 and began the practice of “annual exhibitions.”  For these student recitals, stores closed, farmers came to town and the normal business of the village ceased for this August holiday.

The charge for students was $7 per 14 week term. They usually boarded in local homes for an additional $1.25 to $1.50 a week.

The excellent reputation of the Academy was indicated by the geographic reach of some of its well-known graduates:

  • Alexander Hamilton Stephens (went on to become vice president of the Confederate States of America)
  • Mark Hopkins who would go on to become an educational leader at Williams College and elsewhere
  • Henry Wheeler Shaw of Lanesboro (generally known as Josh Billings)
  • Charles Sedgwick who would become clerk of the Lenox-based courts and the husband of Elizabeth who would start a similar school at their home, “The Hive,” for females
  • Julius Rockwell – distinguished lawyer and citizen of Lenox
  • William Lowndes Yancey – secessionist from Alabama
  • Dr. Henry M. Field, editor of the Evangelist.


Graduating Class c. 1900
Graduating Class c. 1900

The Academy closed in 1866 for about 13 years.  In 1879 the town used it as a high school.  The building was moved a bit south (to its current location) and was repaired.

The town constructed a new high school in 1908 (now Cameron House) which was used for that purpose until the Lenox Memorial High School was completed in 1966.

The Academy was used as a school sporadically until 1911 when Charles Lanier and Newbold Morris opened it as the Trinity School.

By the middle of the 20th century,  the building was being used for commercial purposes and had substantially deteriorated.  On October 24, 1946, the town voted to take over the building and restore it.

Today it is the home of the Lenox Historical Society and is used by the VFW and the Historical Commission.




*Unpublished manuscript – George Tucker

Lenox: Massachusetts Shire Town, by David H. Wood, Published by the Town of Lenox 1969

Notes and Minutes Lenox Academy



Trinity Church: Establishment and Early Days

10382388_701034836622246_22329675486241370_oBy the turn of the 20th century, the episcopal church in Lenox had  added four grand looking  gilded age buildings to Lenox:  church, chapel, and rectory in Lenox village and St. Helena’s in New Lenox.

Episcopalians Had Uphill Battle in a Congregational State

But the Anglican Church, throughout Massachusetts,  had an uphill battle establishing itself.

The puritan (Congregational) church was, in the early days of Massachusetts, as close to a state church as any would ever be in America.  Puritans had come  to  Massachusetts in 1620 primarily because they objected to the Church of England (the parent religious body of the Episcopal Church in the United States).  In the early days, church and state were totally intermingled as to law, voting and community activities.  By 1700, the puritan theocracy had been largely superseded by secular royal government in Massachusetts.  The royal government, in fact, forced the creation of and tolerance of an Anglican church in Boston.   But the “tilt” to Congregationalism remained in Massachusetts.  By the time the first settlers arrived in Lenox, there were 13 Anglican parishes — all east of Worcester.

As late as 1767, when Lenox was formed, towns were still required to have a church and citizens were taxed to support that church.  It went without saying that the “official” church was the Congregational Church.  To be exempt from paying this tax, a citizen had to be certified to be a member of another “official” church and that was not possible for Anglicans in Lenox until 1793.  The tax for support of the church continued until the new state constitution in 1834.

Although many of Lenox’s early settlers were Anglican, including soon to Revolutionary War heroes, Azariah Egleston and John Paterson,  many tories were also Anglican and growth of the Episcopal church was somewhat retarded during the Revolutionary years due to its ties to England.

At the end of the Revolution the American Anglican Church declared its independence from the Church of England and took on the official title Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America.  In due course, American bishops were appointed and the Book of Common Prayer was re-writen to be acceptable in the new United States (among other things, dropping blessings to the king).

Early Services for Anglicans

The wilds of early Berkshire County were territory for missionaries.  There religious needs were met by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts(SPG).  The first Anglican priest to visit Lenox, the Rev. Roger Viets, was SPG from Simsbury, CT.  It was trying work.  He wrote that the people were so poor they could not provide enough to cover the expenses of his long and difficult journey to Lenox and beyond.  In 1764 the beleaguered Rev. Viets was arrested in Great Barrington for conducting a wedding.

Until the first Trinity Church Was Completed in 1818, Services Were Held in Private Homes or The First County Court House

Rev. Gideon Bostwick, also under SPG auspices, became the first resident rector in the Berkshires (stationed in Great Barrington) and conducted regular services in Lenox from 1770 to 1793. In 1774 he mentions key names in the organizing of  Lenox services:  David Perrey, John Whitlock, John Whitlock, Jr., Royce Hall and Eliphalel Fowler.  A Day Book entry from May 19, 1794 lists Samuel Quincy as Clerk, Josh Whitlock and Jesse Bradley as Wardens, Amasa Glezen, Jeremiah Dewey, Issac Goodrich as Choristers.

With the appropriate infrastructure now in place, Lenox area Anglicans organized an official parish in 1793.  It initially included Lenox, Lee, Stockbridge and Pittsfield.  In that same year Deacon Daniel Burbans was hired as rector for Lenox.  He was rector for Lenox and Lanesborough as well as taking up the missionary work of the now deceased Rev. Bostwick throughout the Berkshires.

It is not completely clear where these early Lenox services were conducted in the newly built county court house.  (Then on Walker St.; still standing today on Housatonic).

Rev. Burhans took a position in Newton, Connecticut in 1799 and Lenox engaged the Rev. Gamaliel Thatcher to be shared with Lanesborough. He was followed in 1800 by Rev. Ezra Bradley – also shared with Lanesborough.  In 1801 Lenox reached an agreement to share the services of Rev. Samuel Griswold with Great Barrington.  Rev. Griswold was a nephew of the intrepid Rev. Roger Viets who had conducted the first Anglican services in Lenox.  He led the congregation through the completion of their first church in 1818.  That same year he was dismissed over an unspecified quarrel.

Early Members of Trinity

The Act of Incorporation of 1805 lists the following from Lenox:

Samuel Collins

Selah Cook

David Dunbar

Samuel Dunbar

Azariah Egleston

Moses Geer

Amassa Glezen

John Gregory

Moses Hall

John Hill

Henry Hunford, Jr.

Edward Martindale

Titus Parker

Eleazar Phelps

Samuel Quincy

Stephen Root

David Smith

James Smith

Jonathan Thompson

Thaddeus Thompson

Elijah Treat

John Tyler

William Wells

John Willard

Lenox residents added to the incorporation in 1807:

Salmon Andrews

Abel Avery

Daniel Butler

Jethro Butler, Jr.

David Collins

Stephen Crittenden

Samuel Gray

Edward Hatch

David Hubby

Moses Merwin

Daniel Palley

Samuel Palley, Jr.

Calvin Perry

Joseph Presby

Calvin Sears

Ashbel Sprague

Oliver Stedman

Henry Taylor

Joseph Tucker

Ira Warrener

Warren Warrener

John Whitlock

Daniel Williams

Samuel Wright

Rectors of Trinity Parish (1793-1801)

Daniel Burhans (1793-1799), shared with Lanesborough

Gamaliel Thatcher (1799-1801), one fourth – 3/4 Lanesborough

(Rev. Ezra Bradley also mentioned as sharing with Lanesborough in 1800)


Sources of Information

History of Trinity Church, Lenox, Massachusetts, 1763-1895 by Rev. Charles J. Palmer, John Wilson and Sons University Press, Cambridge, 1895

The Goodness That Doth Crown Our Days, A History of Trinity Parish by John Allen Gable, Lamb Printing, North Adams, MA, 1993










Church on the Hill Evolution of the Buildings

Started in 1805 and dedicated January 1806, the Church on the Hill remains one of the loveliest buildings in Lenox.  Information on the architecture and the nearby burying ground and early members have been described.  Here is some background on the evolution  of the its church buildings.

Required Meeting House

190px-Congregational_Church,_Lenox,_MAAt the time Richmond and Lenox were being formed, church and state were still closely aligned.  Citizens were taxed for support of the church and men had to be members of the church to vote.  A meeting house that was to function as both church and town meeting hall was a requirement for government approval of a town.  Because of the mountain range running down the middle of Lot#8, two locations were needed for meeting houses and by 1767 the lot was split into the two towns we know today.

The church was organized in 1769 by Rev. Samuel Hopkins of Great Barrington.   Land for the meeting house and nearby burying ground was donated by the heirs of Rev. Reynolds – one of the holders of the Ministers Grant that included much of current Lenox.

By 1770, Rev. Samuel Munson had been called to be minister and the original meeting house had been built slightly southwest of the site of the current church.  Rev. Samuel Shephard was called to minister to the church in 1795 and remained pastor until his death in 1846.

New Church in 1805

By 1803, town population had grown to 1,000 and the original meeting house had outlived its usefulness.  In fact  the old  meeting house’s condition and size  made congregants hesitant to hold services there.  A commitment was made at town meeting to construct a new church.

Much of the princely construction cost of almost $7,000 was paid by the sale of the box like pews (floor plan re-designed in 1840).  Sale of the pews brought in $6,811 and sale of the old meeting house brought in $205.51.

The contract for construction specified it was to be made conformable to the plan of a steeple laid down in plot No. 33 in ‘Benjamin’s Country Builders Assistant.”  The builder, Benjamin Goodrich is thought to have also played a role in the design.  Official documentation (Form B) attributes design to architect Captain Issac Daman.

Evolution of the Church Design

The original floorplan, as noted above, consisted of high sided box pews.  The circular pulpit was high so the preacher could see the worshippers.  No fires were allowed in the church so parishioners probably brought boxes of coals – foot warmers – into their pews.  During the winter the minister preached in a large blue overcoat and wore with a red bandanna around his neck and woolen mittens on his hands.  The long services broke at midday and parishioners went to nearby houses to warm themselves.

img_0424In 1840 the box pews were replaced with bench pews similar to those in use today.  The center alley was eliminated and replaced  by two large side aisles.  The pulpit and the gallery front were lowered and stoves were installed in the back of the main room.

New MA Constitution and the Church

In 1834 the new Massachusetts state constitution formalized separation of church and state by prohibiting town support for church operation or buildings.  This had no effect on the Church on the Hill building but did require relinquishing the acerage of the burying ground and all the land around the church except for the footprint of the building itself.

Churchyard Was Planted with a Row of Trees Given by 90 Year Old Eldad Post in 1870; in 1832 Mr. D. Williams Gave this Strip of Land to the Town That Was to Be Forever Kept Open to Preserve the Outlook from the Church.

In the early days there were few hymn books and it sounds like music was – to say the least – not a center piece of worship.  Use of the violin and flute was specifically criticized because they unpleasantly resembled the flute, harp, sackbut and dulcimer which accompanied the worship of Nebuchadnezzar.  By 1850, thinking on music had evolved and the rear gallery was resigned to house an instrument called a “Seraphim” to support the singers.  In 1850 the seats in the gallery in the porch were appropriated “for the use of those who assisted in singing”.  In 1868 the present organ was installed.

From “Buildings” by Rev. Harris B. Hinchcliffe in Church on the Hill History Gathered 1769-1970.

“In 1866, the floor plan of the meetinghouse as it presently exists was set up, and in 1880 a society of young women of the church financed a projection of the front wall of the building and installed the present platform and pulpit…….”

“…..In the late 1940’s and throughout the 1950’s the meetinghouse received rather continuous efforts of modernization.  Electricity was finally brought in, oil heating was installed so that for the  first time in many years services might be conducted at main church building throughout the winter.”

In the early days, worshippers were called to services by the beating of a drum.  A bell was installed at some point prior to 1838 when the Centennial History makes reference to a second bell being hung in the steeple (still in use as of 1906).

Fanny Kemble donated a clock in 1849 that was plagued with difficulty and was followed by the gift of a second clock by Morris K. Jesup  in 1899.

The first Bible gift recorded was from William Walker in 1818; another (still in use as of 1906) was donated by his son William P. Walker in 1852.  The baptismal font and tablets at the rear of the pulpit were placed in 1882 in memory of Sarah and Thomas Egleston.  The two pulpit lamps were given by Mrs. Robert E. Hill in the name of her husband Robert E. Hill, in memory of his grandfather Dr. Robert Worthington.

In 1896 Mrs. Mary Hill present a pulpit in memory of her mother Mrs. Jane Worthington Hill.

In 1864 Ammi Robbins donated the iron fence with stone posts.  His heirs gave the church society $1,000 the income of which was to be used to maintain the fence and the church grounds.  Needless to say that income didn’t last to the present day!  Fencing, church grounds and the cemetery owned by the Town of Lenox and maintained by the DPW

Church on the Hill Chapel

In response to the need for space for more social activities, the church authorized construction of a chapel in 1876. The official completion date (Form B)  is listed as 1877.

The site selected had been the location of the Lenox Library until the library moved to its current location in 1873 to what had been the second county courthouse on Main St.  The building on the site had been a wooden octagon building.  Foundation stones from the old library building were used in construction of the chapel

The Gothic Revival chapel was designed by J.F. Rathbone of Pittsfield and built by J.W. Cooney.  The original design had frescoed walls and a Gothic window facing the street.

It was used primarily as a meeting place until 1900. The chapel was re-designed, a dining room was added in the basement, the present entrance on the north side was added and a glass memorial window, in honor of Blanch F. Ferguson, was installed replacing the Gothic window.

Until the installation of oil heat in the main church in the 1950’s, winter services were held in the chapel.


The Chapel was severely damaged by fire in the mid 1930’s but insurance was sufficient to restore the chapel to its turn of the century appearance.

. In the 1950’s oil heat was installed at the Church on the Hill and services returned to that building.

A Church School held in the Chapel had increased its enrollment to the point that it overflowed the building by 1968. The interior of the Chapel was remodeled at this time to accommodate the school activities.  The chapel space was reduced so two classrooms and office space could be added.

Note:  Both the Church on the Hill and the Chapel are on the National Register.

Church on the Hill Parsonage

136 Main St., Congregational Church Parsonage
136 Main St., Congregational Church Parsonage

Rev. Hinchcliffe describes the various parsonages in The Church on the Hill History, Gathered 1769-1970.

“Dr. Samuel Shepard is reputed to have lived in a house on the old Bradford Tract, approximately across the Pittsfield Road to the east of the State Building on Routes 7-20.  This Pittsfield Road was not then so now, the main roads north being Cliffwood and East Streets.  Where the other early pastors lived is unknown.

During the pastorate of the Rev. E.K. Alden, a house was purchased for a parsonage. It was located just north of the present rectory of St. Ann’s Church on Main Street.  During the pastorate of the Rev. Edward Day, the parsonage having fallen into a dilapidated condition, plans were made and a committee was elected to build a new house and barn on the same site.  These were completed and Mr. Day occupied the new parsonage (which still stands*) for several years before he was dismissed in 1898.

The present* parsonage on Cliffwood Street was willed to the Church in 1919 by Mrs. Mary H. Barrett.  She was the granddaughter of Dr. Robert Worthington, a former deacon of the Church and staunch admirer of Dr. Shepard, who build and first occupied the house sometime between 1815 and 1820….”

*refers to 1970…the parsonage occupied by Mr. Day still stands (pictured above) as of 2016.



Form B

Centennial Anniversary of the Dedication of the Old Church on the Hill, Press of the Son, Pittsfield, MA 1908

The Church on the Hill, United Church of Christ, Lenox, Massachusetts, History, Gathered 1769-1970,