Tag Archives: Lenox Shiretown

18 Main St., Second County Court House – 1815

28 Main St., Second County Courthouse
28 Main St., Second County Courthouse

From Surveys Completed 2011-2012 by the Lenox Historical Commission


This Federal/Neo-Classical style building has two stories, a metal roof and is intact. It has a three-bay, center entrance and brick construction laid up in Flemish bond. It has a hipped roof with a balustrade in alternating paneled and geometric railing sections. The entablature is topped by a pediment with modillions and a tall cylindrical lantern with modillions, supported with eight fluted Doric columns and topped with a spire. Paired Ionic columns support the entablature and flank the central entrance. There are Ionic pilasters at the outer edges of the front façade. A shallow ell projects from the left side with a cross-hipped roof. There are brick chimneys – four side wall, right and one side wall, left. The door surround has a segmentally arched transom, 2/3rds-length sidelights with panels below; original or early or early wood paneled front door. There are blind archways with windows in outer bays of the front façade. The building is eight bays deep with intact 6-over-6 windows, limestone lintels, flared headers, (cylindrical metal fire-stop shade holders attached), and authentic wood paneled shutters.

1893 Sanborn Map labels bldg as follows: “Bank” in right front section, “Library” in left front section, “Stage & Scenery” in rear, “Hall – 2nd [floor],” & rear addition as “Assembly Hall”.

Architect Captain Isaac Damon (1783 – 1862)

Following FROM: http://nhsteeples.org/newport/project_glossary/isaac_damon.html

Isaac Damon, architect


Isaac Damon was born in 1781. At age 30, he moved from Weymouth (MA) to Northampton (MA). His wife died the following year, and he married Sophia Strong (pictured), who delivered eight children.  Over the course of his career, Damon built at least 13 churches, 14 other buildings, and 25 bridges. Most of his buildings were constructed in the Connecticut River Valley, but his bridge work took him farther afield.  His fully-enclosed bell towers and steeples are easily recognized throughout his region of influence. He retired in 1852 at the age of 71 and died ten years later.


Following From: Biographical Dictionary of American Architects (Deceased) by Henry F. Withey, AIA & Elsie Rathburn Withey. (Los Angeles, CA: Hennessey & Ingalls, Inc., 1970).

“Damon, (Captain) Isaac

“Architect-building in western Massachusetts for more than three decades, his work included a number of public buildings, mainly churches. It is believed that Damon was one of the junior draftsmen in the Town & Davis office in New York, and when in 1811 he was called to Northampton to build the First Congregational Church, it seems probable that Ithiel Town helped prepare the plans (*). The church, one of the largest and most elaborate in New England at the time of its erection stood until 1878 when it was destroyed by fire. In Northampton Mr. Damon also designed the Town Hall built in 1823 (*).

“In the course of years he executed many important commissions, and the drawings, some of them in India ink, showed skill in draftsmanship. In his work as builder he was one of the first to understand the use of a truss and incorporated it in the bridgework of a number of buildings. Thirteen or more churches in the western part of the state are ascribed to him among which should be named the First Church at Lenox, dating from 1814; the First Church at Springfield, 1818 (**); the old Meeting House at Ware, 1820 (**), and the Unitarian Meeting House at Greenfield. In addition he was architect of the county Court House at Lenox (an early building from 1814); and probably designed (at least he was paid for making the plans) the oldest group of buildings at Amherst College, including the North and South halls and the Chapel between 1821 and 1827 (***).

“- References: Dictionary of American Biography; “Town and Davis, Architects,” by Roger Hale Newton (*); “Greek Revival Architecture in America,” Talbot Hamlin, 1944 (***).”


Built in 1815, this was Lenox’s Second County Courthouse. The First Courthouse, a wooden structure built shortly after Lenox became the county seat in 1787, was not large enough to adequately serve the needs of the county court. The new Courthouse was a far more imposing structure, costing the county $26,059, a substantial sum in 1815. The Courthouse quickly became a landmark, and came to symbolize Lenox’s position of prominence in the region.

When the county seat moved to Pittsfield in 1868, this building was vacated, and its fate uncertain. Mrs. Adeline Schermerhorn, a long-time summer resident of Lenox, heard about the impending auction of the building at her winter residence in Rome, and commissioned Judge Julius Rockwell to secure the property to be held in trust for the people of Lenox as a free public library. Mrs. Schermerhorn died before the deed could be executed, but her children carried out her wishes, and conveyed the property to the five trustees named by their mother. At her request the building was named the Charles Sedgwick Library, after the popular Clerk of the Courts and citizen of Lenox. The library was dedicated in January of 1874. The rooms formerly occupied by the probate court were leased to the selectmen as town offices. The Lenox Library Association, which had been formed in 1797 and originally housed in the First County Courthouse, decided to move from its 1856 brick building (on the present site of the Congregational Chapel) and consolidate its collection with the Sedgwick Library. Currently serves as the Lenox Library. 

Listed on National Register of Historic Places April 3, 1973


Old Form B

Town Assessor’s Report

Lenox Library, John H.P. Gould and Irene M. Poirier, 1948

Interview with Mrs. Linstead, Librarian, 1978

David Merrill, “Issac Damon and the Southwick Column Papers,” Old Time New England, Vol. LIV, No. 2, Fall 1963, pp. 48-58

Lenox Assessor’s database 2012

6 Main St., Curtis Hotel – 1829

Curtis and old town hall_NEW

6 Main St., Curtis Hotel - 1829
6 Main St., Curtis Hotel – 1829

Information from Surveys Completed 2011-2012


This Georgian/Colonial Revival style building has four stories, an asphalt shingle roof and has been altered. It is masonry construction with brick laid up with common bond–red mortar used in oldest remaining section. It is hipped roof and symmetrically organized with a 7-bay front façade with 3-bay center pavilion with pediment, dentils & modillions. It has a fanlight at attic level with keystone. There are 4 large brick chimneys in front portion of buildging-1 on each side wall, 2 front wall at outer edges of center pavilion. There are corner pilasters. The 1-story front porch wraps around to the right (South) side with a canopied entrance extending from the right. There are front gable dormers on sides of rear extension with Gothic Revival-style decorative verge boards. There is a full-story faceted bay window at the junction between new front section and older rear wing on the right (South) side of building in place by 1898 and the extension of the rear wing, with faceted bay was in place by 1905.

Berkshire Week article quoted from pamphlet put out by the hotel that William D. Curtis undertook a major renovation “soon after he gained ownership of the hotel” (1854) thus dating the angled rear wing to this time period, hence the Gothic Revival-style dormers. The plaque on rear façade reads: “1829 – 1982 Restoration of the Curtis [Hotel] into Housing for Older People [&] Commercial Facilities…Barry Architects, Inc.”

Harding and Seaver Architects

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. No Property Name Street City/Town Year Built
LEN.25 Lenox Town Hall 6 Walker St Lenox 1901
LEN.296 Slater, William House 249 Under Mountain Rd Lenox 1901
LEN.23 Curtis Hotel 6 Main St Lenox 1829
LEN.19 Hagyard, Frank C. Store 36 Main St Lenox 1910
LEN.100 Hegeman, Annie May House 61 Cliffwood St Lenox 1925
LEN.26 Lenox Fire House 14 Walker St Lenox 1909
LEN.29 Peters, Leonard C. Block 46-50 Walker St Lenox 1917


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.[2] By 1903 he had entered into a partnership with George C. Harding that lasted until Harding’s death in 1921.[3] 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.[4] 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.[5]

The Curtis is one of the largest and most imposing buildings in the town center. The original temple front structure, which forms the core of the present building, was probably designed as a counterpart to the Second County Courthouse of 1816 (now the Lenox Library). During the course of the nineteenth century the building was greatly expanded, and some of the decorative elements on these additions are notably Victorian (most notably the gabled dormers on the southern façade). However, the use of red brick and the continuation of the classical cornice around the building gives it a unified appearance that belies its many changes.


The following information is from the 1/31/1987 Form B.

This corner has been the sight of an inn of some sort since at least 1773 when the tavern standing here served as a stop on the stagecoach route from Hudson, N.Y. to Pittsfield. Traffic in the town increased after Lenox was made the county seat in 1787. From about 1793 the Berkshire Coffee House operated on this site, and became famous as the gathering spot for people conducting business at the county Courthouse (then located across the street on the present site of Town Hall).

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


The hotel was purchased by William O.Curtis in 1853, and has been known as the Curtis Hotel ever since. The Curtis family was responsible for much of the hotel’s ensuing success, and William O. Curtis and his son, William D. Curtis, were active members of the community. The loss of the County Court in 1868 had little impact on business at the Curtis, which by this time was catering to a growing number of seasonal visitors. Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, and accelerating rapidly after the Civil War, a stream of visitors came from New York, Boston, and other cities to experience the healthful climate, take in the views from its veranda, and join in the social activities that took place there. Many guests returned year after year: some, desiring more space and privacy than the hotel rooms afforded, rented houses on Main and Walker Streets, also owned by the Curtis’s. These became known as “Curtis Cottages” and their occupants as “cottagers”; this has been cited as the origin of the term “cottagers” to describe wealthy summer residents in Berkshire.

By the final decade of the 19th Century the Curtis served as overflow housing for owners of large estates, or was used by the estate-owners themselves before and after the “season” when their homes were not fully staffed. The building was greatly enlarged in 1883 and again in 1898 to accommodate these patrons.

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


1976 Berkshire Week publication July 30-Aug. 5, 1976

History of Berkshire County, Massachusetts, Joseph E. A. Smith, 1885, p. 219.

Taghconic: or Letters and legends about our Summer Home

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

Lenox Assessor’s database 2011

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

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

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

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

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

42 Walker St., Richard Walker House – 1837

42 Walker St., Richard Walker House - 1837

From Surveys Completed 2012-2013 by the Lenox Historical Commission 


This Greek Revival style building has two stories, an asphalt shingle roof, and is intact. It has 3-bay, and wood framing. The front gable roof–temple has a front with corner pilasters and a hefty entablature. There is a brick center chimney and a 4-bay Left side ell, 1 bay deep, with a brick rear wall chimney. The recessed entry has a flat-roofed entrance porch with 4 fluted Doric columns (replacements) and pilasters, and 2 smaller fluted columns set back with the entry. The door surround has 2/3rds-length sidelights of geometric design. The front door is in tact. There is an enclosed glazed porch along the front of the Left side ell. There are authentic wood window blinds and some original 2-o-2 and 6-o-6 windows. The foundation is marble.

*Additional Major Alterations: porch and wing added, side porch enclosed in glass.


The first inhabitant of this house, Richard Walker, was a local farmer. His daughter married Dr. E.P. Hale, a physician who served on the Town Board of Health from 1890-1898. Dr. Hale and his wife lived in this house, which also served as his office. Dr. Hale was also president of the Lenox Savings Bank. In the early 1900’s, the Misses Brooks acquired the property and ran a rooming house and tea room. They also used it as Headquarters for the British Relief effort in WW I. It was purchased by William G. Clifford on November 20, 1959 and then by John D. Foulds on May 3, 2002.


Registry of Deeds

Lenox by Olive A Colton 1945

Town Reports, Lenox, Massachusetts

County Atlas of Berkshire, Massachusetts 1876