Day/Date: SATURDAY – 6/11/22
Town visited: Lenox
Had you ever been to any of these towns before? N
Drive to 1st town: 122 miles Time spent in town: 4 hours
What did we do in the town/area?
LENOX: We were on our way to our nephew’s graduation from Union College in Schenectady, NY (yay, Jeremy!), so we took the opportunity to check off another town, (#132) in the Berkshire’s town of Lenox. We were excited to be joined by our youngest nephew, Toby. Lenox is most famous for being the home of Tanglewood, an outdoor music venue that hosts the Boston Symphony Orchestra for the summer. Lenox is also home to Shakespeare and Company, a well-known theatre company, and many artists and galleries. (For dance, you must go to the next town over, Becket, the home of the world-renowned Jacob’s Pillow).
We arrived in town around lunchtime, so we ate some yummy sandwiches and salads at a small cafe called Shots (ok, ok, we shared a vegan choc. chip cookie too!). Many people were roaming about an outdoor fair called Spring Art Walk, with artists exhibiting their work and music in the background. It was a nice vibe.
Walking around downtown, we noticed lots of beautiful art, some ornate old buildings, and the historic library. The library building used to be the old courthouse in the early 1800s but has been a library building since 1874. We decided to go in and take a peek inside. One area now used for talks and public events at the library used to be the courtroom. The room was surrounded by books all around the perimeter. In the library was a dictionary on a stand. Jokingly, we showed it to Toby and told him what a “dictionary” was (he’s 15). Then, we looked up all three of our names (Jo, Jenny, and Toby), all of which have definitions in the dictionary. Toby’s was the funniest; see the photo!
We also walked by the town hall and saw that it was getting a Spring Cleaning with some power washers!
One of the stand-out buildings in town was Ventfort Hall, a substantial home built during the Gilded Age (in the late 1800s). This home was built for the sister and brother-in-law of J.P. Morgan, a well-known financier, and investment banker. Having always heard about the Gilded Age, we did a little digging and found out that it was a time of huge economic growth in the US, coinciding with the rapid expansion of industrialization. So, a few quickly became very wealthy (think the Vanderbilts, J.P. Morgan, and the Rockefellers). Along with this expansion came the need for vast amounts of unskilled labor. Thus, huge waves of immigrants, mainly from European and Eastern European countries, made their way to the US. Poor conditions and low wages were widespread during this time, thus creating a massive chasm between the “haves” and the “have nots.” Being a bit more associated with the “have nots”, (and also not having a lot of time) we decided against paying the fee to tour the house. We did have some fun playing in the trees and with the statues behind the building though.
After our town exploration, we headed for a hiking adventure at the Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, run by Mass Audubon. It was a lush forest hike with lots of beaver activity (we didn’t see any beavers, though) and many ponds, ferns, and birds in the trees. It was a beautiful short hike but in such a pretty place. Plus, there were the best bathrooms for an outdoor hiking area we have ever seen! We regretted not having more time here, so we vowed to come back another day to do more hiking in this area.
Our last stop was at “The Mount,” once the home of writer Edith Wharton. This was a very large home, so we suspected that Ms. Wharton had family money as women writers did not earn that much in the early 1900s. It turns out that her father’s family name was “Jones.” – a family with a legacy in banking and real estate. Some say that the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses” refers to them. In addition to being a prolific writer, Ms. Wharton was a humanitarian, philanthropist, decorator, and garden designer. She designed the house in Lenox, and it was here that she wrote some of her best-known works. As a side note, Ms. Wharton was the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize. She won this prize for her novel, “The Age of Innocence.”
We couldn’t tour the home on this visit because they were setting up for a wedding (sad face), but we got a chance to drive in and snap a few pictures.
Indigenous/ Native land info for this region: Mohican