If you’ve seen the film “Cider House Rules,” this Berkshires mansion may look a little familiar to you – the exterior of Ventfort Hall was used as St. Cloud’s Orphanage in the movie. Beyond that, the iconic building has been a dormitory for Tanglewood music students, a summer hotel, the Michel Fokine Ballet Summer Camp, and community housing for a religious organization – but before that, it was just another Berkshire Cottage.
Don’t let that term “Berkshire Cottage” fool you, however.
During the Gilded Age – the era from which Ventfort Hall sprang – the rich and mighty like J.P Morgan and the Rockefellers enjoyed referring to massive homes like Ventfort Hall – palatial estates with opulent gardens, salons, libraries, servant’s quarters, and more – as “cottages” because they were “out in the country” and smaller than their other, even more massive homes.
Ventfort Hall initially served as a summer home to J.P. Morgan’s sister’s family with a total of 28,000 square feet of living space and over 50 rooms, including 9 main bedrooms, 10 servant’s bedrooms, 7 bathrooms, 17 fireplaces, and a surrounding demesne of 26 landscaped acres.
After the Morgans sold the property in 1925, Ventfort Hall began its long fall from grace. By the late 1990’s, this once stately Berkshire Cottage was near ruins and set for demolition but for a group of concerned citizens who stepped in, formed the Ventfort Hall Association, and began the process of saving the iconic property for future generations to enjoy and learn from.
Today, Ventfort Hall is “Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum,” providing a unique glimpse into one of the most fascinating periods of American history thus far: the Gilded Age, when great changes – social, economic, and industrial – were occurring throughout American society at a rate yet to be paralleled.
Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum offers tours of the property, hosts special exhibitions, theatrical performances, concerts, lectures, Victorian teas, children’s programs, and more throughout the year – plus a museum shop to browse. The restored, lavishly decorated rooms of this remarkable residence give visitors a glimpse of just what life was like during this period of American history – for both the extremely wealthy and their less fortunate house staff.
Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum
104 Walker Street, Lenox, MA
Memorial Day Weekend through Oct 31, Mon–Sat: 10am – 5pm
Nov 1 to Memorial Day Weekend, Mon–Sat: 10am – 4pm
Sundays 10am – 3pm, year ’round
Closed on Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day
For more information on special events, current and upcoming exhibits, tour schedules and more, be sure to visit: gildedage.org
Ventfort Hall Lodging
It’s hard to beat Ventfort Hall for sheer opulence – but you can’t spend your entire Berkshires getaway there. For comfort you can retire to, a stay at Applegate Inn bed & breakfast is the next best thing. Centrally located in Lee, MA, our eleven, beautifully appointed suites, complete with private baths, fireplaces, and spa tubs are your ticket to real relaxation andservice in the Berkshires – see you soon!