The Mount - Home of Edith Wharton

Thursday, June 29, 2017


'On a slope overlooking the dark waters and densely wooded shores of Laurel Lake, we built a spacious and dignified house to which we gave the name of my grandfather's place.....The Mount. There for ten years I lived and gardened and wrote contentedly.'   - Edith Wharton


Edith Newbold Jones was born in 1862, to a wealthy New York family. The third child and only daughter of George Frederic and Lucrecia Rhinelander Jones, Edith spent much of her youth in Europe developing the gift of language and appreciation for art, architecture and literature.   Returning to New York in 1872, Edith's literary life began.  Edith was allowed access to her father's library and at age 16 Edith's first volume of poem's, Verses, was published.  Although Edith 'came out' in society at the young age of 17, Edith was still unmarried at 23 and was approaching 'old maid' status.  In 1885 Edith married Edward Robbins (Teddy) Wharton, 13 years her senior.  Teddy came into a trust fund upon his graduation from Harvard.  Shortly after they married, they moved across the street from the Wharton summer estate in Newport, RI.  Though imperfectly suited for each other, they filled their early married years with travel, houses and dogs.  Edith grew tired of Newport and in 1901 she purchased 113 acres in Lenox, MA and with the help of architects Ogden Codman, Jr and Francis L.V. Hoppin, they designed and built what would become The Mount.  Edith considered every detail in symmetry, proportion and functionality in every room and rejected the excesses of late 19th century design.  Together Wharton and Codman led the way to a new American aesthetic.
Although born into a time when women were discouraged from becoming anything more than a proper housewife, Edith broke tradition and went on to become one of America's greatest writers. Writing 40 books in 40 years, including Age of Innocence, Ethan Frome, and The House of Mirth, as well as works on architecture, gardens, interior design and travel.  Edith became the first woman awarded the Pulitzer prize for fiction. The Wharton never had children and Edith and Teddy's marriage eventually disintegrated and in 1911 they sold the Mount.  In 1913 Edith moved to Paris and divorced Teddy Wharton.  Edith remained in Paris until her death in 1937 at the age of 75.  Private families owned the Mount until 1942 when it became the Foxhollow School for girls until 1976 when it went out of business.  Restoration of The Mount began in 1997 and The Mount is currently debt free.  Today the property is an historical landmark as well as a cultural center partnering with Sculpture Now, Shakespeare and Company, and features Jazz on the Terrace every Friday and Saturday evening.  The original main house, 16,850 sq. ft. cost $57,619.00. The stable cost $20,354.  Here's the stable:
It's hard to say what we loved most about our visit this week to The Mount, the interior of the estate or the breathtaking gardens.  But what truly captures your attention is the fine attention to detail and perfect proportions in every direction one turns.  That is evident even on the barn above.  Our tour guide, Joan, was top notch telling the story of Edith Wharton with such great detail and enthusiasm. Several of our group agreed and made sure to tell her so!




Walled Garden on the far right........


The Walled Garden




And as if this weren't enough, stepping inside the walls of The Mount just takes visitors to another level of wonderment that remains as we toured room after room.
Boudoir


Boudoir


Edith Wharton's Bedroom

Edith did her writing in bed every morning.  Here are some of her pages.


View of Flower Garden from Edith's Bedroom

Dining Room



Edith Wharton's Library

The Gallery 
View out the door of the Bookstore
If you've never been, I strongly encourage you to take a drive to Lenox and visit The Mount.  An easy drive from the Capital District, the Mount is open everyday through October 31st from 10:00-5:00p.m.   You might want to check their website first because on days of special events, hours may change.  Admission for children under 18 is always free, adults are $18, seniors $17, students $13 and military with ID $10 and your paid admission is valid for seven days!  Wow, what a deal! You can grab lunch on the Terrace which is provided by the Red Lion Inn.  I can't think of a more beautiful place to spend a morning or afternoon touring the estate and wandering the grounds of Edith Wharton. Visitors can participate in guided tours of the house and gardens or can do a self guided tour as well.  I will note here that unless you have a handicapped parking permit, there is a short 1/4 mile walk from the parking lot to the estate.  Once inside however, places to sit and rest are plentiful! Also, there is an elevator to get you from floor to floor! Be sure to take a few moments to stop in the barn to watch the introductory video before moving on to the house!  Rest rooms are located in the barn as well as in the estate.  For more information: http://www.edithwharton.org/  and  https://www.facebook.com/TheMountLenox/   All information quoted in this narrative has been taken directly from The Mount's official website.
Edith Wharton

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Part II of What a Hoot, The Owls of Coxsackie

Monday, June 26, 2017

I'd like to think I'm no quitter, so I couldn't be content only finding 1/2 of the Owls of Coxsackie on our first treasure hunt.  This weekend we made a return trip, this time with our online map, to try to find the remainder of the 52 owls on display.  We found 17 more on Sunday, still not the complete collection. We found 27 on our first attempt so we're short 8 owls.  Still, I think that's a pretty decent amount and once again, we were so impressed by the amazing talent out there.  52 totally unique owls of so many themes.  All I can say is 'Bravo' to so many talented folks coming together for such a great cause.


Notice that the scroll work is actually the artists father's name on the front and back.

















We couldn't miss the opportunity to enjoy dinner at Red's while we were in Coxsackie.  Red's is a local piece of Coxsackie.  It is the oldest restaurant in continuous operation in Greene County.  They've been open since 1944.  Always delicious and the best service around.  Tonight I was in the mood for beef so after wavering back and forth between the stuffed flat iron steak and the prime rib, I decided to go with the popular vote and ordered the prime rib.  Wow, no disappointment here.  It melted in my mouth and was so delicious that I barely touched the horseradish sauce.  The duchess potatoes were wonderful as was the zucchini which was cooked perfectly, not hard and not mushy.  The salad was so fresh and crisp and the perfect size to curb your appetite without ruining it.


I decided to live large today and even ordered a cocktail.  We were doing a little late celebrating of our anniversary earlier this month, so why not, right?  I ordered one of their Signature Lime Mojitos and let me say, it tasted as good as it looks.
John went with the Prix Fix menu which is available from 11:30-5:30.  He had a salad and baked haddock along with the dutchess potatoes and zucchini.
Just a perfect portion and delicious enough that he cleaned his plate.  His meal came with dessert, so we split a slice of French Silk Pie.  Yummo!  If you're ever near Coxsackie, don't miss the opportunity to stop in for a meal.  You will not be disappointed.  To check out Red's: https://www.facebook.com/WelcomeToReds/ or go to their website: http://www.redsrestaurant.com/index.php?page=index

If you're looking for a fun way to spend a day, head to Coxsackie.  It's a beautiful area and a really lovely village.  There's a Riverside Park that was buzzing with families enjoying the afternoon on the water - a great place to let the kiddos run off a little steam.  Beginning soon, paper copies of the map with the location of all the owls, along with photos of the owls and their artist will be available at local businesses.  Till then, feel free to print your own copy off of the What a Hoot facebook page..https://www.facebook.com/HootoftheOwl/   You can also read more about this great project on their website: http://www.hootoftheowl.com/    Also, if you happened to miss Part I of What a Hoot, you can find it right here: http://www.lifeasiseeitphotography.net/2017/06/what-hoot-owls-of-coxsackie.html

Thanks for reading and come back soon to Life As I See It.  Watch for my next post featuring 'The Mount - Home of Edith Wharton' in Lenox, MA.

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