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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