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The Berkshires, Massachusetts - The Perfect All-Season Getaway PDF Print E-mail
Written by Debra C. Argen   

The Mount, Berkshires, Massachusetts, USAThe Berkshires in Massachusetts is the home of Gilded Age mansions, Tanglewood® - the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, theatre, Shakespeare & Company, and dance, Jacob's Pillow, however there is much more to delight the eye as well as the palate, as the region also offers culinary, cultural, and outdoor activities that are sure to please at any time of the year. Conveniently located 147 miles (247 km) from New York, 120 miles (193 km) from Boston, 36 miles (58 km) from Albany, and 258 miles (415 km) from Philadelphia, it is perfect for a weekend getaway or a longer stay vacation.

The Berkshires, located in Western Massachusetts and bordered by New York, Connecticut, and Vermont, covers 941 square miles (1,514 square kilometers), is larger in land mass than the state of Rhode Island, and consists of charming towns with unique personalities that are waiting to be discovered.

Edward F. Nesta and I traveled by car to The Berkshires in early November 2009, when the autumn leaves were just slightly past their peak of glorious color, however the leaves that remained were still pretty and as we got  closer to the mountains the scenery reminded me of Ansel Adams' photographs with stark white birch trees artistically framing banks of winding streams, a covered bridge captured the spirit of the region, and dark green pine trees were dramatic against the rugged rocky cliffs.

Covered Bridge, The Berkshires, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience
Covered Bridge in The Berkshires

We began our stay at the luxurious Canyon Ranch Lenox the highly respected destination spa resort, and if the name sounds familiar, the company also owns the acclaimed Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona, which opened in 1979, and their newest property, Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa Miami Beach in Florida.

Canyon Ranch Lenox,  Massachusetts
Canyon Ranch Lenox

The 120-acre Canyon Ranch Lenox property includes Bellefontaine Mansion, a Gilded Age mansion that was built in 1898 as the summer residence of Giraud Foster and Jean Van Nest Foster, The Inn, and a 100,000 square foot Spa Complex. Canyon Ranch Lenox is an oasis of pampering that includes sumptuous accommodations, excellent restaurants featuring award-winning nutritious and healthy cuisine, unique spa offerings, health and wellness classes, hiking and biking trails, kayaking, and even snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the winter.

Bellefontaine Mansion at Canyon Ranch Lenox, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience
Bellefontaine Mansion

We fully participated in Canyon Ranch - The Power of Possibility® activities and amenities to make the most of our stay, and made time to indulge in restorative Spa treatments. A few highlights of our healthy dinner at Canyon Ranch included Grilled Lamb Sausage with Parsley Salad and Pomegranate-Mint Emulsion (85 calories); Fitting Greek Farm Honey Balsamic Glazed Chicken (330 calories); and Mashed Butternut Squash with Maple Syrup (90 calories).

Honey Balsamic Glazed Chicken at Canyon Ranch Lenox, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience
Honey Balsamic Glazed Chicken

Read about Canyon Ranch Lenox in  Hotels and Resorts, Chefs' Recipes where Chef Scott Uehlein tempts the palate with his creative recipes for Chilled Cucumber and Arugula Soup; Strawberry, Chicken, and Arugula Salad; and Salmon with Blueberry Mango Salsa, and in the Spas sections.

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Canyon Ranch Lenox
165 Kemble Street
Lenox, Massachusetts, United States
Telephone:       +1-413-637-4100
Toll-Free:         1-800-742-9000
www.CanyonRanch.com

Exploring the Culinary Berkshires

The Berkshires is renowned for its award-winning chefs and high quality cuisine, and we had a delightful lunch at The Dining Room at Blantyre.

Blantyre, Lenox, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience
Blantyre, Lenox, Massachusetts

Blantyre, built in 1902 as the summer residence of Robert Warden Paterson and Marie Louise Fahys Patterson, is  one of the Gilded Age mansions, and Ann Fitzpatrick Brown, who has owned Blantyre since 1981, has created a stunning luxury hotel with 19 rooms and suites, an excellent restaurant featuring exceptional country house cuisine by Executive Chef Christopher Brooks and Chef de Cuisine Arnaud Cotar, and an award-winning wine menu.

House Smoked Salmon at Blantyre, Lenox, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience
House Smoked Salmon

A few of the many highlights of our lunch at The Dining Room at Blantyre included Sunchoke Soup with lentils and forest mushrooms; House Smoked Salmon with whole grain toast, and cucumber salad; New England Cod on a bed of white truffle risotto with butternut squash puree; and Sticky toffee pudding.

New England Cod at Blantyre, Lenox, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience
New England Cod

Autumn at Blantyre, Lenox, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience The Dining Room at Blantyre is open for lunch for outside guests Wednesday through Sunday from 12:30 pm until 1:45 pm, and for dinner for outside guests from Wednesday through Sunday from 5:45 pm until 7:45 pm. The restaurant is open daily for hotel guests with extended hours for dining.

Read about The Dining Room at Blantyre in the Restaurants section and in the Chefs' Recipes section where Relais & Châteaux Grand Chef Christopher Brooks shares a delectable taste of his recipes for Cucumber Panna Cotta; New England Cod with Zucchini Cake and Romesco; and Peach and Raspberry Salad. Bon appetit!

Blantyre, Lenox, MassachusettsThe Dining Room at Blantyre
Blantyre
16 Blantyre Road
Lenox, Massachusetts 01240
United States
Telephone:       +1-413-637-3556
Fax:                  +1-413-637-4282
Email:             
This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
Email:             
This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it  
www.Blantyre.com

Wheatleigh built in 1893 in the style of an Italian villa, is another Gilded Age mansion and was the summer residence of Henry Harvey Cook and Mary McCay Cook, which was later inherited by their daughter, Georgie Cook de Heredia and her husband, Carlis de Heredia, and is located on 22 acres overlooking the Berkshire Mountains.

Wheatleigh, Lenox, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience
Wheatleigh, Lenox, Massachusetts

This former private residence is owned by Susan and Linfield Simon and is a luxury hotel featuring 19 exquisite suites and rooms, and has an American Automobile Association Five Diamond restaurant featuring contemporary American interpretation of French cuisine created by the talented Chef Jeffrey Thompson.

We stayed at Wheatleigh in the Terrace Suite where we experienced the grand life of the Gilded Age albeit with all of the modern conveniences that one would expect in a luxury hotel, including a fitness center with state of the art equipment, outdoor swimming pool, and a Spa.

Autumn Sunset at Wheatleigh, Lenox, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience
Autumn Sunset at Wheatleigh

We had an elegant lunch in The Library at Wheatleigh where a few of the many highlights included Butternut Squash Soup, with Orange, Rosemary, and Chestnuts; Smoked Salmon and Artichoke Quiche, with Arugula, Radish, and Fennel; and Fall Greens with Blue Cheese, Honeycrisp Apple, and Spiced Nuts.

Salmon and Artichoke Quiche at Wheatleigh, Lenox, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience
Salmon and Artichoke Quiche

In the evening, we had a memorable dinner experiencing their four-course menu, and grand Chef's Tasting Menu served in The Dining Room at Wheatleigh. A few of the many highlights of our dinner included Sunchoke Soup with Beets, Savoy Cabbage, and Ravioli; Spiny Lobster with Heart of Palm, Citrus, and Tamarind; and Jamison Farms Lamb with Sweet Potato, Artichokes, and Brussels Sprout Leaves.

Jamison Farms Lamb at Wheatleigh, Lenox, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience
Jamison Farms Lamb

Wheatleigh serves lighter fare in The Library with lunch served in summer and winter, Monday through Saturday from 12:00 pm until 2:00 pm, and dinner in the summer, Sunday through Thursday from 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm, on Friday and Saturday from 5:00 pm until 9:30 pm. During winter, dinner is served Sunday through Thursday from 6:00 pm until 8:30 pm, and on Friday and Saturday from 6:00 pm until 9:00 pm. Sunday Brunch is served from 9:30 am until 1:00 pm.

The Library at Wheatleigh, Lenox, Massachusetts
The Library at Wheatleigh

The Dining Room at Wheatleigh, Lenox, MassachusettsDinner is served in The Dining Room during the summer from Sunday through Thursday from 5:00 pm until 9:00 pm, and on Friday and Saturday from 5:00 pm until 9:30 pm. During winter, dinner is served Sunday through Thursday from 6:00 pm until 8:30 pm, and Friday and Saturday from 6:00 pm until 9:00 pm.

Read about Wheatleigh in  Hotels and Resorts and Restaurants sections, and in Chefs' Recipes  where Chef Jeffrey Thompson shares a delectable taste of the restaurant with his recipes for Pan Seared Foie Gras, Puy Lentils, Baby Turnips, Green Apple Mustard Sorbet; and Sablefish, Parmesan Gnocchi, Cauliflower, and Shellfish Boudin.

Wheatleigh, Lenox, Massachusetts

Wheatleigh
Hawthorne Road
Lenox, Massachusetts 01240
United States
Telephone:       +1-413-637-0610
www.Wheatleigh.com 

For chocolate lovers, another culinary highlight of the region is Chocolate Springs, Desserts & Café owned by Chocolatier Joshua Needleman. Visiting Chocolate Springs, Desserts & Café and speaking with Joshua, I felt as if Edward and I had been transported to the fantasy world of "Willy Wonka." A self-proclaimed "chocoholic" since a young child, he proudly showed us a ceramic mug that he had made in the 5th grade proclaiming, "I Love Chocolate."  Based on that passion, he has created a niche for himself in the artisan world of handmade chocolate.

Joshua Needleman of  Chocolate Springs Desserts and Cafe, Lenox, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience
Joshua Needleman

Talent, creativity, and patience are the foundation for his inspired chocolate confections that range from sweet to savory, incorporating spices and herbs to create unique flavor profiles. We enjoyed sampling the chocolates and drinking cups of steaming hot chocolate in the warm and welcoming café filled with a mix of people of all ages seated at the wood tables and on the comfortable black leather sofas.

Chocolate Springs Desserts and Cafe, Lenox, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience
Chocolate Springs, Desserts & Café

Speaking with Joshua we learned all about the fascinating world of chocolate, which he said is "brain food" and "good for the soul," and although creamy and tasty, white chocolate, unlike dark chocolate, does not have any health benefits. We also learned that not all cow milk is right for making chocolate as Jersey cow milk is high is protein content which is not good for preserving and making chocolate.

Joshua Needleman of  Chocolate Springs Desserts and Cafe, Lenox, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience
Joshua Needleman with edible chocolate art

The creation of chocolate confections not only requires talent, artistry, and patience it also requires precision and timing, as the chocolatier has a 2-degree temperature window to temper the chocolate and place it in the molds before the chocolate starts hardening. When using transfers on chocolates, the chocolatier has only 15-seconds to complete the process. Always on the cutting edge of artistry and gastronomy, Joshua teamed up with a sculptor friend, Andrew DeVries, to replicate a few of Andrew's bronze pieces in chocolate to create edible art. Visiting Chocolate Springs, Desserts & Café was definitely a very tasty and educational experience.

Handmade Chocolates at  Chocolate Springs Desserts and Cafe, Lenox, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience
Handmade Chocolates

Chocolate Springs, Desserts & Café is open from Sunday through Thursday from 10:00 am until 8:00 pm, and on Friday and Saturday from 10:00 am until 10:00 pm.

Chocolate Springs Desserts and Cafe, Lenox, Massachusetts

Chocolate Springs, Desserts & Café
Aspinwell Village
Route 7
55 Pittsfield Road
Lenox, Massachusetts 01240
United States
Telephone:       +1-413-637-9820
www.ChocolateSprings.com

Great Barrington, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience
Great Barrington, Massachusetts

Great Barrington, settled in 1726, population 7500, is another charming town, and we strolled the quaint shops that lined Main Street including stopping in Rubiner's Cheesemongers & Grocers and sampling the excellent selection of local and international cheeses, cured meats, and artisan groceries. Rubiner's Cheesemongers & Grocers is open Monday through Saturday from 10:0 am until 6:00 pm, and on Sunday from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm.

Matthew Rubiner of Rubiner's Cheesemongers and Grocers, Great Barrington, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience
Matthew Rubiner of Rubiner's Cheesemongers & Grocers

Rubiner's Cheesemongers & Grocers|
264 Main Street
Great Barrington, Massachusetts 01230
United States
Telephone:       +1-413 528-0488

We had dinner at the elegant fine dining restaurant, allium restaurant + bar which features farm to table seasonal American cuisine created by the talented Chef Michael Pancheri, and if the food was any fresher, it would need to be cooked in the fields.

allium restaurant + bar, Great Barrington, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience
allium restaurant + bar

A few of the highlights from our dinner included Crispy Veal Sweetbreads with Grilled Radicchio, Black Mission Figs, and Capers; Tasting of Early Fall Vegetables with Rawson Brook Goat Cheese and Petite Herbs; Wood-Grilled Berkshire Pork with Great Northern Beans, Laura's Kale, and Applesauce; and Pinenut and Rosemary Tart with Golden Raisins and Vanilla Ice Cream.

Wood-Grilled Berkshire Pork - allium restaurant + bar, Great Barrington, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience
Wood-Grilled Berkshire Pork

allium restaurant + bar is open for dinner Sunday through Thursday from 5:00 pm until 9:30pm, and on Friday and Saturday from 5:00 pm until 10:00 pm.

Read about allium restaurant + bar in the Restaurants section and in Chefs' Recipes where Chef Michael Pancheri shares his recipes for Chickpeas Crisped in Hot Oil; Mixed Green Salad with Candied Pecans and Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette; and Wood-Grilled Berkshire Pork with Great Northern Beans, Winterbor Kale and Honeycrisp Applesauce.

allium restaurant + barallium restaurant + bar
42-44 Railroad Street
Great Barrington, Massachusetts 01230
United States
Telephone:       +1-413-528-2118
www.MezzeInc.com

Exploring the Cultural Berkshires

The Berkshire mountains is a rich cultural area that gained notoriety as an art colony that attracted musicians, artists, and writers including Edith Wharton, Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorn, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, as well as wealthy industrialists and financiers including the Astors, the Vanderbilts, and the Westinghouse families who built opulent summer homes that they referred to as their "cottages" during the glorious "Gilded Age" to appreciate the magnificent beauty of the region. The Berkshires remains an attractive region for people who appreciate the arts and culture, as well as outdoor enthusiasts, and is the affluent home of celebrated contemporary designers, artists, and musicians.

We began in the pretty town of Lenox, settled in 1750, population 5,077, an area that has a treasure trove of beautiful mansions from the Gilded Age. We visited Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum built between 1891 and 1893 in the Jacobean Revival style that was the 28,000 square foot summer home of George Morgan and his wife, Sarah Morgan, sister of J.P. Morgan, that is nestled on 11.7 acres and originally had 28 rooms, including 15 bedrooms, 13 bathrooms, and 17 fireplaces. The home was quite impressive in its day and had an elevator, burglary alarm, fire alarm, fire hose, and indoor plumbing.

Ventfort Hall Lenox, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience
Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum

Sadly, Sarah Morgan died three years after the house was completed, and George honored her memory by commissioning stained glass windows and a bell for nearby Trinity Episcopal Church, built in the Romanesque style in 1888 located at 88 Walker Street. George Morgan later remarried and the family remained in the house until the 1940s.

After a series of owners, Ventfort Hall Association purchased the brick and limestone building in 1997 and opened its doors as a museum in 2001. An interesting bit of trivia is that the rear porch of Ventfort Hall was used as the exterior for the St. Cloud's Orphanage in the 2000 Academy Award-Winning movie, The Cider House Rules, which featured actors Michael Caine, Tobey Maguire, and Charlize Theron.

Ventfort Hall Lenox, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience
Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum 

During our visit there was a marvelous exhibition entitled, Les Petites Dames de Modes, which featured 59 miniature mannequins stylishly coiffed with human hair and costumed in clothing from the period 1885 to 1914. Although unseen, the mannequins ensembles are complete with appropriate shoes and undergarments including petticoats, bustle cages, and bustle bumps according to the period designed by John R. Burbidge, retired Senior Designer of the bridal house, Priscilla of Boston who designed the wedding gown for President Richard M. Nixon's daughter, Tricia. A few of my favorites in the collection included The Ascot Toilette circa 1907 with wide black trimmed hat, black and white gown, black boa, and parasol; Casino Toilette 1911 with traveling coat; The Voyager circa 1912; Grand Robe de Ball circa 1893, and the Reception Dress circa 1885.

Les Petites Dames de Modes, Ventfort Hall, Lenox, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience
Les Petites Dames de Modes

Also of interest, was the wedding cake exhibition, designed by Mrs. Cile Bellefleur Burbidge, wife of John R. Burdidge whose intricately elaborate cakes were elegant white sugar confection fantasies; and the exhibition, Something Old, Something New: 200 Years of Berkshires Brides, which runs until January 15, 2010.

Wedding Cake by Ms. Cile Bellefleur Burbidge at Ventfort Hall Lenox, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience
Wedding Cake by Mrs. Cile Bellefleur Burbidge

Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum is open daily from 10:00 am until 3:00 pm. The museum is closed New Year's, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Admission is charged. Adults: $12, Members: $6, Children Ages 5 - 17: $5, Children under 5: Free.

Wedding Gowns at Ventfort Hall Lenox, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience
Something Old, Something New: 200 Years of Berkshires Brides 

Ventfort Hall Lenox, Massachusetts

Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum
104 Walker Street
Lenox, Massachusetts 01240
United States
Telephone:       +1-413-637-4100
www.GildedAge.org

Novelist Edith Wharton's former home, The Mount, was built in 1902 in the classic revival style based on the principles outlined in her book, The Decoration of Houses (1897), co-authored with architect Ogden Codman, Jr., and is another stunning Gilded Age mansion and features spectacular gardens. Edith Wharton and her husband, Teddy, lived at The Mount until 1911. The home later underwent a series of owners until it opened as a museum.

The Mount, Lenox, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience
The Mount

A few of the highlights of The Mount is the 36-foot by 20-foot Drawing Room where the ornate ceiling features decadent plasterwork of floral ovals and circles, reproductions of the original 1710 Brussels tapestries that were once a part of the house, a marble fireplace, and French doors leading to the terrace; the Dining Room features ornate flora and fauna plasterwork on the walls, a red marble fireplace, and a table set for 8 guests, as Edith did not want a house for lavish parties. Edith loved her dogs and interestingly there is a plush leopard dog cushion set beside the table, a glass canister filled with dog biscuits set by the china place settings, and a dog bed placed near the French doors. Edith Wharton's corner Sitting Room on the north side of the house is also interesting with its four windows on two sides of the room, red marble fireplace and low mirror hung on a wall so that she could watch the fire on both sides of the room from her desk placed in the middle of the room. Although Edith was often photographed writing at this desk, she actually did most of her writing sitting in bed writing on a board with her ink-pot at her knee, and her dogs, newspapers, correspondence, and books scattered around her.

The Dining Room at The Mount, Lenox, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience
The Dining Room at The Mount

The Mount is open daily from May until October from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm, and on weekends during November and December from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm. The Mount is wheelchair accessible. Admission is charged for the house and gardens. Adults: $16, Students: $13, Children 12 and under free. There is an additional $2 charge per person for guided tours of the house. Tours are offered daily at 11:00 am and at 2:00 pm, however tour times are subject to change, so please call +1-413-551-5122 on day of planned visit to confirm.

The Mount, Lenox, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience
The Mount

The Mount, Lenox, Massachusetts

The Mount
2 Plunkett Street (at the corner of Route 7 and Plunkett Street)
Lenox, Massachusetts 01240
United States
Telephone:       +1-413-551-5111
Telephone:       +1-413-551-5107
Telephone:       +1-413-551-5122
Email:             
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www.EdithWharton.org

Lenox is also home to Shakespeare & Company, one of the renowned Shakespearean companies in Massachusetts, where we had the opportunity to see the hilarious play, The Hounds of the Baskervilles written by Steven Canny and John Nicholson, directed by Tony Simotes, and featuring a talented cast of Jonathan Croy, Josh Aaron McCabe, and Ryan Winkles.

The Hounds of Baskervilles - Shakespeare and Company, Lenox, Massachusetts
The Hounds of the Baskervilles 

Please contact the Shakespeare & Company Box Office or check their website for upcoming performances and schedules including the performance of Les Liaisons Dangereuses (January 29 until March 21, 2010). Read about The Hounds of the Baskervilles in the Arts section.

Shakespeare and Company, Lenox, Massachusetts

Shakespeare & Company
70 Kemble Street
Lenox, Massachusetts 01240
United States
Box office:        +1-413-637-3353
Main office:      +1-413-637-1199
Fax:                  +1-413-637-4274
Email:             
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www.Shakespeare.org 

We continued our exploration of the region by visiting the nearby town of Stockbridge, settled in 1764, population 2,276, and visited Mission House built in 1739 in the Georgian style with a Connecticut River Valley door, by the Reverend John Sergeant, the first missionary to the Stockbridge Indians. Mission House moved from its original location on Eden Hill in the 1920s, was restored by Miss Mabel Choate in 1928 in memory of her parents, and opened as a museum in the 1930s.

The Mission House, Stockbridge, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience
Toys at Mission House

There are many interesting artifacts including period furnishings, the table in the kitchen used by the artist Norman Rockwell in his last painting, and Abigail Sergeant's bonnet made of pumpkin pith and her wedding shoes. Also of interest is the Colonial Revival Garden, designed by noted landscape architect Fletcher Steele.

The Mission House, Stockbridge, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience
The Mission House, Stockbridge, Massachusetts

The house and gardens are open from Memorial Day weekend (May) until Columbus Day (October) daily from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm, with the last tour at 4:00 pm. Guided tours of the house last 45-minutes. Admission is charged. Please check the website for admission.

Mission House
19 Main Street
Stockbridge, Massachusetts 01262
United States
Telephone:       +1-413-298-3239
www.TheTrustees.org

Naumkeag, was the beloved home of the Choate family who lived there during the months of April through November from 1887 until 1958. Built in 1885 for Joseph Hodges Choate (1932 - 1917) and his wife, Caroline Dutcher Choate (1837 - 1929), Naumkeag is a spectacular 44-room Gilded Age mansion designed by noted architect Stanford White. Their daughter, Miss Mabel Choate lived in the house until the time of her death in 1958.

Naumkeag, Stockbridge, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience
Naumkeag, Stockbridge, Massachusetts

The lavishly planned landscape gardens were another highlight of our visit to Naumkeag, where our guide, Will Garrison told us that the Choate family would trim the trees on their property to follow the shape of the mountains to not mar their view. The most famous detail of Naumkeag is The Blue Steps created in 1938, which lead to Mabel Choate's cutting garden and feature Art Deco white railings and blue steps of varying height to correspond with the angle of the hill dramatically framed by White Paper Birches.

The Blue Steps at Naumkeag, Stockbridge, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience
The Blue Steps at Naumkeag

The two-toned brick house features a "Shingle Style" as well as Norman style turrets, Chinese Temple, and Chinese Garden with Moon Gate. The Dining Room has a beautiful reflective tin ceiling, the Library features wood-paneled walls lined with books and a pencil sketch of Mabel Choate by the acclaimed artist, John Singer Sargent. Naumkeag has the distinct advantage of having its household inventory intact, as Miss Mabel Choate had deeded her home to the Trustees before her death. As such, the Chinese export porcelain, tapestries, paintings, and the family's vast collections are on display.

Moon Gate at Naumkeag, Stockbridge, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience Chinese Temple at Naumkeag, Stockbridge, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience
Moon Gate and Chinese Temple

The house and gardens are open from Memorial Day weekend (May) until Columbus Day (October) daily from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm. Guided tours of the house last 45-minutes. Admission is charged. Please check the website for admission.

Naumkeag, Stockbridge, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience
Naumkeag, Stockbridge, Massachusetts

Naumkeag
5 Prospect Hill Road
Stockbridge, Massachusetts 01262
United States
www.TheTrustees.org

Contemporary art flourishes in the region, and we visited The Norman Rockwell Museum dedicated to the American artist and illustrator, Norman Rockwell (1894 - 1978) who was one of its famous residents. Born in New York City, he was a prolific artist who created more than 4,000 paintings capturing everyday American life, he illustrated books, and his work graced the covers of prestigious magazines including the Saturday Evening Post and LOOK. He moved to Stockbridge in 1953 and remarked "I did not want to do anything with my life except draw."

The Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience
The Norman Rockwell Museum

The Norman Rockwell Museum features many of his original oil paintings as well as 323 Saturday Evening Post covers, with his last Saturday Evening Post cover dated December 16, 1963. His career began at the age of 22 in 1916 when he created his first cover and through the years he captivated his audience's hearts with his illustrations that ranged from Charles Lindberg's flying across the ocean, to the historic landing on the moon.

A few of the many highlights we enjoyed included his paintings "Mother Tucking Children into Bed" (1921 cover illustration for Literary Digest), "Family Home From Vacation" (1930 Saturday Evening Post), and "Triple Self-Portrait."

Edward Nesta and Cathy Deely at The Gossips at The Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience
Edward Nesta and Ms. Cathy Deely at "The Gossips"

In the evening, we returned to the museum for the opening reception of Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera (runs from November 7, 2009 through May 31, 2010) consisting of 120 prints of Norman Rockwell's photographs and 25 original paintings and drawings. During his years in New York City, Norman Rockwell used professional models to sit for him for his illustrations, however when he moved to Stockbridge, he would photograph himself as well as his neighbors to capture their expressions and settings that he would later use in his illustrations. 

Suzanne Barrett, Anne Oppermann, Tammy DePolo at The Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience
 Suzanne Barrett, Anne Oppermann, and Tammy DePolo

Many of the people and their families that he photographed were at the reception, including Anne Oppermann and her children, Suzanne Barrett, and Tammy DePolo. Anne was Norman Rockwell's secretary, and Norman photographed her then husband, Clarence Barrett, as the model for the soda jerk for the illustration "The Runaway;" Wray Gunn, Jr. who was 13 years old when he was photographed with his cousin Tracey, age 7, for the illustration, "New Kids in the Neighborhood" (LOOK, May 16, 1967); and board member, Cathy Deely who posed with Edward in front of the painting "The Gossips" (1948 Saturday Evening Post cover).

Wray Gunn, Jr. at The Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience
Wray Gunn, Jr.

The Norman Rockwell Museum is open daily with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day. Hours from May until October and holidays: 10:00 am until 5:00 pm, November until April weekdays from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm, and weekends and holidays from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm. Norman Rockwell's Stockbridge studio is open from May through November 2, from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm (not wheelchair accessible). Admission is charged: Adults: $15, Seniors 65+: $13.50, College Students with valid school I.D.: $10, Children 18 and under: free.

The Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience The Norman Rockwell Museum  
9 Glendale Road, Route 183
Stockbridge, Massachusetts 01262
United States
Telephone:       +1-413-298-4100
www.NRM.org

Williams and Sons Stockbridge, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience
Williams & Sons Country Store, Stockbridge, Massachusetts

Strolling through Stockbridge and browsing in the shops had the feeling of stepping in a Norman Rockwell painting. We visited Williams & Sons Country Store where the antique wood-floor, old-time penny candy, and interesting toys and accessories captivated our imaginations.

Beverly Carne of Williams and Sons Stockbridge, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience
Beverly Carne of Williams & Sons Country Store

Williams & Sons Country Store
38 Main Street, P.O. Box 656
Stockbridge, Massachusetts 01262
United States
Telephone: +1-413-298-3016
Email:        
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Schantz Galleries has gained a reputation as one of the preeminent glass galleries in the country, and represents some of the most influential contemporary glass artists including Dale Chihuly, Lino Tagliapietra, Martin Blank, and Nancy Callan, to name but a few. We enjoyed visiting the gallery and seeing the impressive collection of contemporary interpretations of this renowned art. Contact the gallery for the hours.

Schantz Galleries Stockbridge, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience
Schantz Galleries

Schantz Galleries
3 Elm Street
Stockbridge, Massachusetts 01262
United States
Telephone:  +1-413-298-3044
Email:          
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www.SchantzGalleries.com

In West Stockbridge we visited the Hotchkiss Gallery featuring art mobiles by the talented artist Joel Hotchkiss who began designing mobiles in 1976, and opened his gallery in 1981. Contact the gallery for the hours.

Joel Hotchkiss of Hotchkiss Gallery, West Stockbridge, Massachusetts- Photo by Luxury Experience
Joel Hotchkiss of Hotchkiss Gallery

Hotchkiss Gallery
8 Center Street
West Stockbridge, Massachusetts 01262
United States
Telephone:       +1-413-232-0200
Fax:                  +1-413-232-0210
Email:             
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www.ArtMobiles.com

The Berkshires has much to offer visitors year-round including outdoor activities of hiking, biking, snowshoeing, cross-country and downhill skiing, cultural museums, theatre, art, dance - Jacob's Pillow Dance, and music festivals, including Tanglewood® Music Festival and Tanglewood® Jazz Festival, gastronomy, antiquing, and shopping. Combined with its convenient location from many gateway cities in the United States, the region is perfect for a weekend getaway or a longer vacation.

Read other articles on The Berkshires in the Hotels and Resorts, Restaurants, Chefs' Recipes, Spas, and Arts sections.

The BerkshiresFor more information on The Berkshires, please visit the Berkshire Visitors Bureau website: www.Berkshires.org.   

Massachusetts VacationFor more information on Massachusetts, please visit the website: www.MassVacation.com.

© January 2010. Luxury Experience. www.LuxuryExperience.com All rights reserved.

 
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