The Mount (Lenox, Massachusetts) - History

History

The Mount's main house was inspired by the 17th-century Belton House in England, with additional influences from classical Italian and French architecture. Edith Wharton used the principles described in her first book, The Decoration of Houses (co-authored with Ogden Codman, Jr.), when she designed the house. She thought that good architectural expression included order, scale, and harmony. Its west (entry) elevation is three stories; on the garden side it is two stories with an opening out to a large, raised, stone terrace overlooking the grounds. The house exterior is a striking white stucco, strongly set off by dark green shutters, and rises from a quasi-rustic foundation of coarse field stone. Clusters of gables and white chimneys rise from the roof, which is capped with a balustrade and cupola. This main house is augmented by Georgian Revival gatehouse and stable, and a beautifully restored Lord and Burnham Greenhouse. Wharton's sometime collaborator Ogden Codman, Jr. assisted with the architectural design. Wharton's niece, Beatrix Jones Farrand, designed the kitchen garden and the drive; Farrand was the only woman of the eleven founders of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Edith Wharton and her husband, Edward, lived in the Mount from 1902 to 1911. After the Whartons left, the house was a private residence, a girls' dormitory for the Foxhollow School, and site of the theatre company Shakespeare & Company. It was then bought by Edith Wharton Restoration, which has restored much of the property to its original condition.

The house is situated at the high end of its grounds. The original site was 113 acres (0.46 km2) of farmland, with another 15 acres (61,000 m2) later added. The current estate size is 49.5 acres (200,000 m2). Restored gardens include an Italian walled garden, formal flower garden, alpine rock garden, lime walk, and extensive grass terraces.

Though The Mount fell into financial troubles in February 2008, it has under new leadership regained solid financial footing.

Programming at The Mount reflects Wharton’s core interests in the literary arts, interior design and decoration, garden and landscape design, and the art of living. The Mount's signature programming events include its esteemed Lecture Series, Wharton on Wednesdays, the literary festival Berkshire WordFest, Music After Hours, and the summer theatre production.

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