Tag Archives: 20th Century Lenox History

Lenox Water System

Lenox Water System – Meeting Challenges

The clear, drinkable water we get from our taps is easy to take for granted.  Lenox is fortunate to live in a region with plentiful water, but that doesn’t mean it has been  easy to meet the town’s ever growing demand for water.  Lenox has faced many of the same challenges as the rest of New England in keeping with the growing demand for water.

History of Water Access in New England

Not only does New England have plentiful rainfall, but it has fast moving rivers and streams with steep drops – making for – if untouched – clear, pure water from streams and lakes.

Hauling Water - Usually Wasn't Done by a Dapper Gentleman in Jeans
Hauling Water – Usually Wasn’t Done by a Dapper Gentleman in Jeans

Consequently, most early settlers in Lenox  – and elsewhere in the new world – would have gotten their water from naturally occurring sources.  Access to clean water was one of the reasons for the rapid population growth in the early days of the colonies.

As settlers moved further from open water sources, springs would have been tapped or wells dug.  As had been done since the Middle Ages, water was transported  by taking advantage of natural elevation or elevation created by wind or hand powered pumps. At first wooden pipes were used then iron pressure pipes starting in the mid 19th century.  Extensive piping and pumping would have been limited to wealthier homeowners.  And in fact, most early water systems were private and provided no guarantee of water for everyone.   Hauling water from a shared well or cistern (as still happens in the third world) would have been common.

From Any Water Will Do to Potable 

Because of low population density and the often fast moving water cited above, the Berkshires may have had less water borne illness than other areas in the 18th and 19th centuries.  However, as we now know, water that looks clear can still contain killer bacteria.  In 1854 Dr. John Snow deduced that water carried cholera by gathering data on the victims of the disease in a London neighborhood.  His research showed disease concentration around a particular public well.  By the 1880’s Robert Koch had closed the logic loop by showing that microorganisms in water could transmit cholera, typhoid, gastrointestinal distress and other illnesses.

Soldiers have been told to place their latrines downstream since the Romans.  With the development of germ theory the importance of keeping wastewater separate from drinking water had increased. Unfortunately, disposing of waste water in rivers and lakes continued.  And, industrial waste became a more common contributor to wastewater run off.  The earliest treatment was by running waste water through sand or aerating.

Chlorine had been used to kill these micro-organisms as early as 1847 (in Vienna, Austria).  Its use became common in US water systems in the early 20th century.  By the mid 20th century chemical pollutants had been identified as a threat – even to well water- and standards for drinking water became more stringent (Federal Clean Water Acts 1970, 1974??)

The combination of the growing importance of purifying drinking water and increased demand made systematic sourcing, treatment and distribution a critical civic function by the beginning of the 20th century.

Water Demand

Before there was disease theory, there was suspicion of water as a drink, so, but there was still need for water for washing, cooking and putting out fires. By the late 19th century, household plumbing (including bathtubs and flush toilets) had started to become common in wealthier homes, causing a spike in per household consumption at about the same time population growth was accelerating.

In addition manufacturing had become a major water user.

While demand was increasing, supply was stressed by:

  • industrial run off and household sewage was despoiling lakes and rivers
  • timber clearing increased run off
  • the readily accessible water sources had been tapped.

The costs of projects to both source and purify drinking water and treat wastewater (to ever higher standards) have made water access, transport and treatment one of the largest expenses of towns, cities and states.  Historically, these massive investments have been resisted until forced to deal with a water crisis.

Lenox Water System Initially Private

In 1874, Julius Rockwell, William O. Curtis, Thomas Post and Associates formed a private water company.  The initial water system consisted of Woolsey Reservoir #1, Aspinwall Reservoir and a distribution system.

IMG_0604

With considerable foresight this private water company bought up watershed – bit by bit, and continuously expanded reservoirs; both by building new resevoirs and increasing dam height on existing reservoirs.  The details are nice documented by retired Lenox DPW head Jeff Vincent below in “History of Lenox Water System Facilities.”.

Lenox was fairly typical of water systems of the day in serving a limited % the population.  Although Mr. Rockwell, Curtis and Post were all permanent Lenox residents, it may have been the needs of the water hungry (presumable early adopters of indoor plumbing) cottagers that kick started the project.

Lenox was somewhat unique in

  • having still had untouched watershed available
  • having its needs met from multiple sources (in the 1900’s the Lenox Dale distribution system was a separate private company with water supplied from the Town of Lee and in 1957 when it was a town-owned system

Some the expansion projects (as was common elsewhere) may have been triggered by water shortages:

  • 1879-1880 – drought
  • 1908-1911 – drought
  • 1913 – water shortage
  • 1910’s – Laurel Lake used for emergency water supply

..and after the town bought the private water company in 1947

  • 1957 – drought
  • 1963 – drought
  • 1965 – drought, pumped from Laurel Lake
  • 1980 – severe drought emptied Upper Reservoir; town dredged to increase capacity but still had to pump water from Stockbridge Bowl all winter
  • 1981-1982 – continued dry conditions and pumping from Stockbridge Bowl

From Private to Town Owned

As noted above, the Town of Lenox bought out the private Lenox Water Company.  The town funded the purchase price of $173,000 as well as $60,000 for improvements to the distribution system.  In 1956, 26,000 feet of water lines were turned over to Lenox by the City of Pittsfield.  The West Street booster pump station was constructed to raise the gradient in Lenox center and to increase the flow from the reservoirs.  The first major new reservoir since 1891 was completed in 1959. In 1985, a moratorium had to be called on new connections to the town’s water distribution system.

In 1985, a special town meeting appropriated close to $6MM for the town’s share of the Washington Mountain Watershed Project which included a water treatment plant, storage tank, water transmission plan, transmission main and a water treatment plant for the existing Root Reservoir.  In 1995 the town installed a pump station on New Lenox Road to increase the amount of water that can be taken from the City of Pittsfield.  In 2005 work was completed on the Upper and Lower Root Reservoirs.  This enhanced the safety of the dams but did not increase storage capacity.

The Future

The demand for water in Lenox is not expected to decline.  Full-time population growth is currently slow but tourism remains the town’s major industry and brings in more and more summer guests.  In addition, the many 100+ year old pipes incur waste.  The current reservoirs are at capacity which is somewhat of a moot point since there is no additional run off anticipated from the watershed.

Resources for wells or other water sourcing will have to compete for funds with the investments needed to meet heightened standards for waste water treatment.

Lenox is not unusual in facing challenges in meeting water demand and satisfactorily treating its wastewater.

Many thanks to Jeff Vincent and Rich Fiuore for information on the Lenox Water System

History of Water Systems and Treatment

History of Lenox Water System Facilities

Land Transfers to Lenox Water System

 

 

More on Windsor Mountain School


Roselle Charlock gave a talk Oct. 30, 2014 at the Lenox Library which rounded out the information from Rick Goeld on Windsor Mountain School.  Rosalie’s talk provided an introduction to her new book, Windsor Mountain School, A Beloved Berkshire Institution.  Roselle is professor emerita of education at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and the author of several books on education and on the Holocaust.

Progressive Education at Windsor Mountain with a European Flair

Her book provided additional information on the Bondy family (the founders of Windsor Mountain School) and their educational philosophy.  Max Bondy had a background with the German Youth Movement which, before it was co-opted into Hitler Youth, stressed healthy outdoor living  which Max and other faculty members brought to Windsor Mountain School.  Their educational philosophy also emphasized learning to control violent, destructive impulses natural to all of us by experiential learning, artistic expression,  and a self-defined path.  Freedom was seen as key to a self-defined life.   Continue reading More on Windsor Mountain School

Festival House Lenox 1950-1961

From 1950 to 1961 Bruno and Claire Aron owned what is now Ventfort Hall and ran it as a hotel for culture oriented travelers of all races and religions. Festival House was a precursor of many attitudes and activities important to Lenox today.

Claire and Bruno Aron

Claire and Bruno were first generation Americans in a family of Eastern European Jewish heritage.

Claire and Bruno Aaron Grew Up in New York and Went to City College
Claire and Bruno Aron Grew Up in New York and Went to City College

They both loved culture and were very concerned with social justice.  Bruno left his job at the Pittsfield Jewish Community Center in 1949 and started looking for other opportunities in the Berkshires.  Bruno and his family loved the beauty of the Berkshires and wanted to increase opportunities for others to visit.  While working at the Pittsfield Jewish Community Center, Bruno was often contacted by Jews traveling to Tanglewood about where they could stay when attending concerts, so he was aware of the discriminatory practices of some lodgers at the time and wanted to create a place that would welcome all visitors.  Demonstrating foresight on what was to come, he and Claire also envisioned leveraging the attractions of Tanglewood to make the Berkshires a cultural destination.

Continue reading Festival House Lenox 1950-1961

Progressive Education in Lenox-Windsor Mountain School

Groton Place WM Berk Eagle 20140308__BondyObit09
Groton Place, Home of the Windsor Mountain School – from the Berkshire Eagle Heinz Bondy Obituary

With its emphasis on experiential learning and letting the learner define the pace and structure of learning, progressive education techniques were/are particularly appropriate for young people who had trouble learning in more traditional environments.  In the Berkshires there were three private boarding schools focused on progressive education techniques:  the Buxton School in Williamstown, the Stockbridge School in Stockbridge, and the Windsor Mountain School in Lenox.  Only the Buxton School is still operating as of this date.*

The Windsor Mountain School was also a magnet for left leaning parents – some famous – who wanted their children to have a good but liberal education.  Well-known Americans who sent their children to Windsor Mountain included Harry Belafonte, Thelonious Monk, Randy Weston and civil rights lawyer Clifford Durr. **

The school was founded by educational reformer Max Bondy and his wife Gertrud Bondy who had studied with Sigmond Freud.  Both their progressive orientation and their Jewish faith made them targets of Nazism.  They re-established their school in Switzerland in 1937, moved to the United States in 1939, and to Lenox in 1944.  **

They were able to purchase the former Winthrop estate on Old Stockbridge Road as a home for their school.  In his recently published book, The People of Windsor Mountain, alumnus Rick Goeld describes the family-like atmosphere when he attended with the gifted counseling of Gertrud Bondy and a small student body (no more than 50 in the early days.)  Some of the faculty were fellow European refugees that lent a unique atmosphere to the school.  In the early days, classical music was played at breakfast every day.*

When Max Bondy died in 1951, Max and Gertrud’s son Heinz took over as headmaster.  He continued his parents practice of sponsoring orphans and others who would not normally be able to attend a private boarding school.  To address the costs of maintaining the extensive building and grounds while maintaining scholarships and excellent teaching staff, he expanded the student body to 250.  Consistent with the political and educational philosophy of the school, a diverse student body was recruited and in 1970,  40 of the 250 students were African American.**

In his book and at his talk (9/25/14) at the Lenox Library, Rick Goeld commented that Lenox was quite conservative at the time and town residents criticized school attendees as “hippies,” and were very concerned about drug use and inter-racial dating…leading to a town/Windsor Mountain School meeting at Church on the Hill. He also noted the fun outings to Wendover for a burger (now Shear Design on Church St. ), Hagyard’s Drug Store, or, when parents were around to foot the bill, The Yellow Aster (now Mazeo’s).*

*People of Windsor Mountain,  by Rick Goeld, Published May 14, 2014 by GGFC Properties LLC

** Wikipedia, Windsor Mountain School, September 2014

 

 

58 Yokun Ave., Carey House – c.1878

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

From Surveys Completed 2011-2012 by the Lenox Historical Commission

ARCHITECTURAL DESCRIPTION:

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

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

Architect Henry M. Seaver (3/6/1873 –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HISTORICAL NARRATIVE:

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

BIBLIOGRAPHY and/or REFERENCES:

Valuation of the Property, Lenox Library

Wood David, Lenox: Shire Town, P193.

Book of Berkshire P144

Lenox Assessor’s database

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

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

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

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

101 Yokun Ave., Henry Braem House – 1929

Ehtelwyn_NEW

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

From Surveys Completed 2011-2012 by the Lenox Historical Commission

ARCHITECTURAL DESCRIPTION:

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

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

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

HISTORICAL NARRATIVE:

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

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

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

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

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

BIBLIOGRAPHY and/or REFERENCES:

1939 Sanborn Map

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

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

Clipping file, Berkshire Athenaeum

Lenox Assessor’s database

399 Under Mountain Rd., William Slater House – 1901

399 Undermountain Rd
399 Under Mountain Rd., William Slater House – 1901

From Surveys Completed 2011-2012 by the Lenox Historical Commission

ARCHITECTURAL DESCRIPTION:

This is a 2-story, 5-bay, stone and wood framed house built in the Tudor Revival or English Cottage style. It is oriented to the south, with a hill rising up behind it. It is clad with stone and stucco with some half-timbering. It has a gable roof with asphalt shingles; it extends down to the top of the first floor in the rear. There are six chimneys, most of them brick, with corbelling and flared tops. However, the exposed front wall chimney is of stone a typical feature of the Tudor Revival style. The front façade is distinguished by three pavilions, all with steeply pitched front gable roofs; the center one is smallest but is stone clad, features a king post at its peak, and contains the Tudor-arched entrance. The front door is recessed, creating a shallow entry porch. Above the door is a set of three casement windows. The first floor also has a group of three windows in the bay left of the entrance pavilion and a pair of windows in the bay to its right. Paired windows are above these. A large brick interior chimney is in this section of the house. There is a right side ell with the basement exposed at its right side due to the slope of the site. Above, on the front, the stuccoed second story overhangs the first floor and there is a brick end-wall chimney. Around the right corner is a balcony with an X-patterned railing. A set of three windows is on the first floor front facade and paired windows are on its second. A newer 1-story hipped roof ell is off the left end of the house. A brick end-wall chimney is located between it and the main section. There are four gabled dormers on the rear. Most of the windows are intact 4-o-4 double hung sashes. The foundation is stone. A detached, hipped- roof, 2-stall garage is located to the right (east) of the house. There is an in-ground swimming pool in the rear yard, separated from the house by a stand of coniferous trees. A circle driveway centered on the front entrance is fronted by a stone wall. A long driveway off Under Mountain road connects with it from the east.

Architect George C. Harding (1867-4/23/1921)

“Senior member of the firm of Harding & Seaver, architects of several noted public buildings in the New England area. Mr. Harding was a native and life-long citizen of Pittsfield, educated in architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and had been active professionally since 1896. After working alone for a time, in 1902 he formed a partnership with Henry M. Seaver, and under the firm name acquired a wide and successful practice. His most important works include the following buildings: Museum of Natural History and Art at Pittsfield, 1907; the Y.M.C.A. Building, 1908; Lathrop Hall, 1905, and Memorial Chapel, 1914, at Colgate University, Hamilton, N.Y.; Town Hall at Lenox, Mass., 1903, and Colby Academy at New London, N.H. Mr. Harding also designed a number of fine homes, one distinguished example being the country house of former Senator Crane at Dalton, Mass.” [1]

From MACRIS List – Sept. 16, 2008

Inv. NoProperty NameStreetCity/TownYear Built
LEN.25Lenox Town Hall6 Walker StLenox1901
LEN.296Slater, William House249 Under Mountain RdLenox1901
LEN.23Curtis Hotel6 Main StLenox1829
LEN.19Hagyard, Frank C. Store36 Main StLenox1910
LEN.100Hegeman, Annie May House61 Cliffwood StLenox1925
LEN.26Lenox Fire House14 Walker StLenox1909
LEN.29Peters, Leonard C. Block46-50 Walker StLenox1917

 

HISTORICAL NARRATIVE:

This house was built in 1901 according to the original plans. The property’s first house which was built in 1880 is the farmhouse. The farmhouse was built by Dr. H.P. Jacques. In 1920 the house (main) was owned by Mrs. William Slater. Judge and Mrs. Charles Bosworth conducted the estate as a farm and raised fine saddlebred horses. In 1936 the property was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Leonard C. Feathers. They changed the name to Waterford. In 1942 the property was sold to Mr. and Mrs. John L. Senior who changed the name to Highwick Farm. In the 1970’s the property was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Peter Sprague, who call it Under Mountain Farm. It was acquired by the Sprague Family Trustee in 1988.

BIBLIOGRAPHY and/or REFERENCES:

Original plans

Marcia Brown

Tjasa Sprague

Town of Lenox Assessors Card

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

30 Kemble St., Frank Sturgis House – c.1880

30 Kemble St
30 Kemble St., Frank Sturgis House – c.1880

From Surveys Completed 2011-2012 by the Lenox Historical Commission

ARCHITECTURAL DESCRIPTION:

This rambling, 2-story, wood-framed house evolved over quite a number of years and is categorized as Colonial Revival. It incorporates both a hipped and a gable roof with hipped roof dormers on the front, left and rear sides. Two 2-story wings extend from the central section, one from each side. The main section of the house is topped by a metal balustrade, as is a lower 1-story addition off the left side ell. It has three tall brick chimneys. The cladding is wood clapboard and it has wood corner boards, cornices, and trim. A porch is created by a recessed entry with the second floor over it supported by three chamfered pillars atop collared and paneled plinths. A secondary entrance to the right of the front entrance is also recessed with a smaller overhang supported by a single pillar matching those for the main porch. These porches are separated by a 2-story bow window topped by a projecting pedimented front gable roof. The earliest portions of the house have stone foundations. There is a 2-story, cross-gabled rear ell, with bow window on its rear facade. A 2-story, 2-bay-wide, front-gabled pavilion (projecting to both front and rear) to the right side was also added. Both additions appear to have been constructed sometime after 1939. There is a large circular driveway in front of the house, accessed from one point on Kemble Street, with adjoining parking area. The house is at a lower grade from the street necessitating a large retaining wall in the right front corner of the lot (recently constructed). Newly planted young coniferous trees have been planted between the driveway/retaining wall and the street. There are other mature coniferous and deciduous trees on the property.

NOTE: The 1905 Sanborn Map labels this property “Mrs. F. L. Sturgis” and “Clipston Grange.” The 1911 and 1939 Sanborn Maps depict the same building footprint as the 1905 map. The architect is still unknown.

HISTORICAL NARRATIVE:

This once festive Lenox country house of New Yorkers, Florence Lydig and Franklin K. Sturgis, had almost been forgotten before its rescue and restoration in 2007 by the Jurney family in conjunction with their plan for Spring Lawn. The panel core of this fascinating structure is an old village house, which originally stood at the junction of Main and Cliffwood Streets.   George G. Haven, a New York Stockbroker and a Lenox real estate speculator moved the old house to its present location in c.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. A childless couple, the Sturgises were devoted to animals. Florence’s family property is now the Bronx Zoo and Frank was a founder of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The epitome of this dapper gentleman, businessman and sportsman, Frank served a term as President of the New York Stock Exchange, on the building committee of Madison Square Garden, on the boards of the Jockey Club and the New York Coaching Club.

Four years after Mrs. Sturgis died in 1922, Mr. Sturgis left Clipston Grange to the new and growing Lenox School for Boys which was at that time based in Sunnycroft which was next door.

BIBLIOGRAPHY and/or REFERENCES:

1905, 1911 and 1939 Sanborn Maps

2008 House Tour Brochure by Cornelia B. Gilder

Lenox Assessor’s database

19 Cliffwood St., Albert Clifford House – 1914

19 Cliffwood St., Albert Clifford House - 1914
19 Cliffwood St., Albert Clifford House – 1914

From Surveys Completed 2011-2012 by the Lenox Historical Commission

ARCHITECTURAL DESCRIPTION:

This is a two-story, three-bay wide house, three bays deep, in the Classical Revival style. It was constructed of steel reinforced concrete and clad with two-toned brick in a plain or headerless bond with brown mortar. Yellow brick has been used for quoining and trim. Window sills are of cast stone. It has a flat roof with modillions on the wide overhanging eaves and a dentil band below. The front facade is symmetrically organized and dominated by a two-story entrance pavilion with arched openings, having faux brick keystones, on the front and sides of the first floor. The side openings are glazed with 12 lights each. Its second floor is a sun porch with rectangular openings. On the right side is a one-story entry vestibule, also with a flat roof with rough-faced stones up to the side door. The left side has a two-story canted bay window along with an exposed brick side wall chimney with quoining just in front of it. The windows appear to be intact: 1-o-1 double hung sashes. The foundation is concrete. A detached one-stall garage that matches the house in materials and architectural details is located to the right and rear of the house. However, the mortar color is a standard grey and an overhead door has been installed. The house is intact with the only noticeable change being the addition of a wood deck in the rear.

This house is first depicted on the 1939 Sanborn Map. The 1911 Sanborn illustrates a house with a different footprint, which indicates the current house must have replaced it.

HISTORICAL NARRATIVE:

Mr. Joseph Clifford built this house for his two sisters and a brother: Florence, Annie, and Albert. Their nieces, Beatrice and Coralie Clifford lived in the house from 1950 until 1979. The house left the Clifford family in 1979 when it was sold to Mr. Mathew Merritt, Jr. Mr. Merritt sold the house to Sharon R. Simons. In 1985 Mr. and Mrs. Alan Robertson bought the home.

In 1993 the property was owned by Brock Wilkerson. Christine Parke Wilkerson acquired the property in 2005.

BIBLIOGRAPHY and/or REFERENCES:

1911 and1939 Sanborn Maps

Lenox Town Records

Mr. Matthew J. Merritt Jr.

Mrs. Grace Clifford

Lenox Assessor’s database

22 Cliffwood St., Newton Sharp House – c.1900

22 Cliffwood St., Newton-Sharp House - c. 1900
22 Cliffwood St., Newton-Sharp House – c. 1900

From Surveys Completed 2011-2012 by the Lenox Historical Commission

ARCHITECTURAL DESCRIPTION:

This wood-framed, Queen Anne-style house has two stories and three front bays. It has a hipped roof and brick side wall chimney on the left facade. The house is clad with wood clapboard and shingles—the shingles being used for accents and banding. The asymmetrically organized front facade has a projecting front gabled bay on the right side, with pent between the attic and second floor, and 10-o-2 attic window. A cylindrical two-story tower with conical roof is located at the left front corner and has a band of fish-scale shingles between the first and second floor windows. A porch extends across ¾ of the front facade and has a fish-scale shingled kneewall. Above it is a curved balcony with newer spindled balustrade in front of a recessed second floor porch with arched opening. A porte cochere extends from the left facade; its shed roof has a pent and slightly concave triangular supports in a sunburst design. On the right facade is a bow window topped with a balcony having a spindled balustrade. Windows are 2-o-1 double hung sashes. The foundation is stone. A 1½-story carriage barn is located behind the house. It has a gable roof clad with slate shingles and a clipped front gable wall dormer in which a large window is flanked by two smaller windows. Like the house it is clad with both wood clapboard (first floor) and fish scale wood shingles on the upper floors and has corner boards. The vehicle bay has been infilled. The driveway has brick pavers edged with bluestone.

HISTORICAL NARRATIVE:

Depicted on 1905 Sanborn Map.

This house was the home of the Newton and Sharp families until 1938. Mr. and Mrs. Charles Dee bought the house in 1938. Mrs. Dee sold the house in 1965 to Mr. and Mrs. Robert Blafield. In 2003, it was sold to Thomas C. Wessel and Margaret McTeigue.

BIBLIOGRAPHY and/or REFERENCES:

Sanborn Maps

Town Assessor’s Report

Lenox Town Hall Records

Registry of Deeds, Pittsfield

Lenox Assessor’s database – 2012