A couple of days ago I mentioned historic Trinity Church, which is located across the street from Hampton Terrace. It occurred to me, as I stand on my front porch, there are a LOT of iconic sights from our front door.
Ventfort Hall was built in 1893 by Sarah Morgan, sister of J. P. Morgan at a cost of $950,000. In those days, an impressive mansion could be built for $10,000, so this demostrates the scale of this Jacobean-Revival home. Sarah and J. P. each inherited about $1,000,000 from their father. J. P. used his inheritance to ultimately become the richest man in America. Sarah used hers to build this summer home.
Dont feel sorry for her. She married George Morgan – her first cousin, who was also J. P.’s business partner, so there was plenty of subsequent cash flow to fuel the Gilded Age lifestyle.
The Morgans kept the summer home until they died, after which it was rented by Margaret Vanderbilt, whose husband, Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, had died on the Lusitania.
Like many of Lenox’s “cottages,” Ventfort Hall was left abandoned for many decades. But a very strong local effort to save it was led by Tjasa Sprague, and now Ventfort Hall is completely stable and undergoing a multi-phase renovation. All of the main floor public spaces are done, as well as most of the second floor bedrooms.
Ventfort Hall has become “The Museum of the Gilded Age” and is open for daily tours. Tjasa and her staff have energetically filled the calendar with social functions, lectures and events. It has become quite the resource for Lenox.
Most of our guests at Hampton Terrace have taken advantage of our close proximity and taken the tour. I find myself taking such things for granted, which is why I decided to focus on iconic places beyond our front door. This is truly one of American’s great remaining mansions.