The Mount – postcard from time period when Edith resided there
Photo Credits: Lennox Library Association
If you have read The Age of Desire by Jennie Fields or know about Edith Wharton, you will know that she had a summer retreat house in Lennox, Massachusetts – in the Berkshire Mountains. This home was known as The Mount and she spent periods of the year, mostly summers, over 10 years here. This place is GORGEOUS – and I have plans on visiting there this spring as it is only a little over an hour from my home. In the meantime I wanted to give you all a virtual tour and some information about the house (when I go I will come back with photos, of course!).
Edith and Teddy on the future site of The Mount
Photo Credits: Yale University
First I wanted to include this video from The Mount website, which features a short introduction to Edith Wharton and her home.
Edith Wharton designed most of this house herself, with the aid of a architect colleague, Ogden Codman, Jr. They had recently released a book titled, The Decoration of Houses, and she followed the precepts in that book in her designs. She also designed the layout of the gardens and landscape. The house was constructed from 1901-1902 and cost in excess of $130,000 (1900's dollar figures) for all of the construction of the house, stables, lodge, landscaping etc. The original land owned by Wharton comprised of 113 acres – currently the Edith Wharton Restoration owns 49.5 acres of the original property.
The main house
The main house contains a walled forecourt, entrance hall, and staircase on the ground floor. The first floor contains the gallery, dining room, drawing room, Edith’s library, Teddy’s (her husband) den, and the wrap around terrace. On the second floor is Edith’s suite (boudoir, bath, and bedroom), two guest bedrooms and bath (known by Edith as the Marital Suite), Teddy’s suite (bedroom, bath, and dressing room), and another large guest bedroom and bath (known as the Henry James suite). You can read more about each of the rooms – what they were used for, inspired by, or contained here. Almost everything is either original to the house or reproduced from pictures or descriptions available.
Edith did most of her writing in her bedroom – she even wrote The House of Mirth here.
In the service wing (the South wing) there is on the ground floor the servants’ dining room, kitchen, serving room and scullery, laundry room, wine cellar, coal-storage room and furnace room. On the first floor the servants’ hallway, butler’s room, cook’s room, butler’s pantry, houskeeper’s room. The second floor hosted the linen closet, housemaid’s closet, maid’s room, sewing room, dress closet, bath, stairs to the attic. The attic is where there were 8 servant bedrooms and a bathroom.
Included below is a video tour of The Mount – there are some inside shots and some of the outside and gardens.
The gardens are gorgeous and were laid out by Edith to move from landscaped rooms near the terrace and progressively blend into the natural surroundings the further they got from the house. You can read more about the gardens and the restoration here.
Below is a video walkthrough of part of the gardens.
The house was sold in 1912 to the Shattuck family when Edith permanently removed to Paris after her divorce from Teddy and it went though several subsequent hands. The longest owner was The Foxhollow School for Girls and then subsequently the Shakespeare & Company before it was eventually purchased by Edith Wharton Restoration in 1980.
The stables were used by subsequent owners for a 10 car garage and then by the Foxhollow School for their horses for the girls and later as performance space for Shakespeare and Company. Current restorations are still ongoing in this building. You can read more about it here.
Photograph by David Dashiell
The gatehouse is still on the property and is currently used as an Administration building for Edith Wharton Restoration. You can read more about it here.
The house and gardens were in a major state of disrepair by the time Edith Wharton Restoration purchased the property. The gardens were totally destroyed and the house needed major work. In 1997 they began their restoration and it looks amazing. The house has been designated as a National Historic Landmark and is the only US dedication to Edith Wharton.
The Mount is located at 2 Plunkett St in Lennox, MA and is open to visitors from April through the end of October. Admission price for adults is currently $16 – there are other rates available. There are guided tours of the house and gardens available – extra $2. In October you can partake in a ghost tour on Fridays.
Have you ever visited this site?
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