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!
Are you a fan of Downton Abbey? Does the phrase “Call me Ishmael” have a special meaning for you? If you said “yes” to either of these statements, we have some upcoming Berkshire events that might peak your interest.
Herman Melville’s home, named Arrowhead, is the site where Moby Dick was written. The home will be open during the holiday season on weekends through January 13 for public tours. Hours are 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. with tours on the hour at 11,12,1 and 2. The shop is open with gifts for all the history and literature buffs in your life.
Also recently opened is The Melville Trail. The intent of the Trail is to deepen the public’s understanding of Herman Melville’s connection to and love of many places in Berkshire County. Four of his most beloved locales now have permanent interpretive panels. Find them at Arrowhead, Pontoosuc Lake, Berkshire Athenaeum and Monument Mountain.
Also included on the trail are eight more places that Melville loved. Park Square, Hancock Shaker Village, Crane Museum of Paper Making, Balance Rock, Lenox Court House, Tanglewood/Hawthorne Cottage, October Mountain and of course Mount Greylock.
Although Melville’s work belongs to the world, it was the Berkshires that inspired him.
Ventfort Hall Mansion
On Saturday January 12 at 3 p.m. the Gilded Age Museum at Ventfort Hall presents a Tea and Talk. “Lords, Ladies & Mummies: The Story of Highclere Castle, the Real Downton Abbey” will be the subject with Curt DiCamillo as the speaker. DiCamillo is an architectural historian and a recognized authority on the British country house. The lecture coincides with the third season of the highly popular fictional television series Downton Abbey returning to American television. A snow date has been scheduled for Saturday, January 19, at 3:00 pm. A Victorian High Tea will follow the program.
Looking for a Massachusetts Getaway? We hope you will consider staying at our romantic Berkshire bed and breakfast – we would love to be your hosts!
Berkshire Events for Halloween
Halloween is a holiday more about folly and fun than religion and rhetoric. It is a favorite day for children all over America and adults know that Halloween is an excuse to get into costume and act silly.
Wondering what to do in the Berkshires for Halloween? October brings the lovely fall colors to our landscape and spooky Halloween events. From Paranormal investigations to traditional Halloween parades, there’s a lot of fun to be had not far from our Lee, MA bed and breakfast.
2012 Halloween Season Events at Ventfort Hall
Located at 104 Walker St. in Lenox, MA.
Ventfort Hall mansion and Gilded Age museum has a number of fun and spooky events for Halloween.
Dancin’ at the Mansion Halloween Party Saturday October 13 at 7:30 pm.
Dances to the standards sung by Vivian Caputo and played by the Greg Caputo Quartet. Costumes very welcomed and prizes will be given. There will also be complimentary snacks and a cash bar.
Ghost Hunting at the Mansion Saturday October 20 at 8:00 pm.
Chicopee Paranormal Investigators will check out the ghostly activity at the mansion. In the process, they’ll train spectators on how to do their own investigation, including how to use tools of the trade.
Tea and Talk with Chicopee Paranormal Investigators Tuesday October 30 at 4:00 pm.
The Chicopee Paranormal Investigators return to share their findings at the mansion. Consider the evidence over a lovely Victorian Tea.
Tickets are required for all events. For more information and to buy tickets online, visit http://gildedage.org/
Friday Night Ghost Tours at The Mount in Lenox, MA
Every Friday at 5:45pm and 7:00 pm during October, visit to The Mount at 2 Plunkett Street in Lenox, MA for Ghost Tours! A 90-minute guided adventure though the haunted places of Edith Wharton’s home is sure to put you in the Hallow’s Eve mood. Wear good walking shoes, bring your flashlight and prepare to be spooked! Not recommended for children ages 12 and younger. Visit The Mount website for more information and to buy tickets.
2012 Halloween Events in Pittsfield, MA
Pittsfield is a 25 minute drive from our Berkshires bed and breakfast.
All Things Halloween Thursday October 18 in Pittsfield
Throughout downtown Pittsfield, come for the very cute Children’s Costume Contest & Parade. There will also be live music and performances. Downtown shops and restaurants will be open later for the festivities. The Halloween spirit continues with Pittfield’s annual Halloween Parade on Friday, October 26 at 7 pm.
2012 Halloween Events in Stockbridge, MA
Stockbridge is a 10 minute drive from our Berkshires lodging.
Halloween Week Walk & Talk October 25 in Stockbridge, MA at 5:00 pm
Tom Daly will lead a walking tour of Stockbridge Cemetery after a cider and doughnut reception at the Old Town Hall.
Celebrate Mother’s Day Weekend this year at our Berkshires Bed and Breakfast, and take mom to the Pre-Mother’s Day Pink Tea and Ballet at Ventfort Hall.
The Pre-Mother’s Day Pink Tea and Ballet begins on Saturday, May 12, 2012, at 3:30 p.m. Entertainment is by the American Dance Insitute Ensemble, the Albany Berkshire Ballet Junior Company, and the Catarella School of Dance. A special pink tea and refreshments will be served after the ballet.
Ventfort Hall is a historic mansion and Gilded Age Museum in Lenox, Massachusetts, not far from our Berkshires Inn. Built in 1893 for Sarah Morgan (sister to J.P.), this Jacobean Revival-style mansion is being restored to its former glory.
The first floor of Ventfort Hall is home to The Museum of the Gilded Age. As the name suggests, exhibits focus of the life and times of the Gilded Age, which lasted from the late 1860s to the end of the century.
Currently on exhibit is “Les Petites Dames de Mode”, 59 exquisite miniature fashion models that portray the history of women’s fashion from 1855 to 1914. The ladies and their fabulous costumes were lovingly created by John R. Burbidge, who was Senior Designer for the famous bridal house, Priscilla of Boston prior to his retirement. This was a labor of love.
Bring Mom–either your mother or the mother of your children–to our Bed and Breakfast Berkshires for Mother’s Day this year. Spend the weekend exploring the area, and enjoy a special Pre-Mother’s Day Pink Tea and Ballet at Ventfort Hall. Moms deserve to be treated well.
Additional information is available at Ventfort Hall.