Ventfort Hall: Gilded Age History Across Street from Hampton Terrace

photo1Hampton Terrace is considered one of the “Berkshire Cottages” and its owners were part of the Lenox social scene for more than half a century. But Hampton Terrace was modest in scale to the mansions built by the Morgans, Vanderbilts, Westinghouses, et al. Many of those homes are so vast in scale that they have become destination resorts such as Cranwell, Wheatleigh, and Canyon Ranch. One such mansion has become the “Museum to the Gilded Age” and luckily it is located virtually across the street from us.

Susan and I attended a reception there last Friday evening to hear some exciting planned events and also learn of long-term goals for yet-unrestored portions of the mansion and the grounds.

Firstly, Ventfort Hall is unique among the restored “cottages” currently on tour (Naumkeag, The Mount, Chesterwood and others), in that it stays open during the winter, seven days per week. It only closes on a limited number of holidays. It also is a work in progress…..quite exciting to see the old, the new (perfectly replicated to blend with and match original detailing) and the “projected.” I personally was on the board in the early part of the decade when work was still underway in the main hallway, porch, staircase and dining room. Since then, restoration has included the back porch, the billiard room, the west exterior wall and the library. Shortly, several rooms on the second floor will be open to the public.

And that is especially exciting because portions of a temporary exhibit Les Petites Dames de Mode will be moved to permanent display in two rooms on the second floor, along with some additions: Something Old, Something New: 200 Years of Berkshire Brides, a collection of historic wedding gowns, and replicas of the wedding dresses designed for two Presidents’ daughters and the Duchess of York’s wedding dress designed by John Burbidge.

There are lectures and special activities all up and down the calendar at Ventfort Hall. For a listing, To stay at the closest possible location to the museum, pick Hampton Terrace.