My love for the ‘Cottages of the Berkshires’ began many years ago, when I visited Elm Court, in Stockbridge, for the first time. Actually, I can’t quite call it visiting, since it was an abandoned estate at the time, and my friends and I, in our teenage days, would sneak onto the property from the back part of the property, and hang out in the overgrown fields. We would scare each other, and I remember one time in particular, when we all swore that we saw a light go on in the upper level of the mansion. To this day, I believe it was a ghost roaming the mansion, who put that light in the upper window that night so long ago.As fate would have it, years later I would end up owning a house just a stone’s throw from Elm Court. By now, I had an established love for all things Berkshire, complete with my own website and Facebook page, proclaiming my love for this area. I am also deep in the midst of writing a giant coffee table book about all of the wonderful things that the Berkshires behold. So, whenever I am given the opportunity to explore some part of the Berkshires, I usually jump at the chance. I am obsessed with learning every fact, meeting every person who might bring the Berkshires closer to me, and most importantly, taking pictures of every spot in the Berkshires. I want to make sure that every wonderful detail is documented for future generations, so that they can see and feel and see the glory of the Berkshires that make my heart swell.
I was fortunate enough to be offered a chance to tour the Elm Court mansion(or ‘Cottage’, as I like to refer to these mansions, in the fashion of their original inhabitants), this past week, and even though I had been in it a couple of times, and seen a few of the rooms, I was unprepared for how enormous the place was. I knew it had been at one time, the largest home in America(and still retains the title of largest American Shingle Style home), and knew it had been added on to over time, but let me tell you, this mansion is gigantic! I was so impressed by the sheer size of it, that I kept feeling as though we would get lost as we walked through its halls. The woodwork is astounding, covering walls, ceilings and floors. The numerous fireplaces were all beautiful, and were all completely different from one another. The rooms that were finished were so gorgeous, and it was easy to imagine the opulent lifestyle that the Vanderbilts must have lived.
The estate had been in the same family since it was built, but recently has been purchased by Travaasa, a group that plans to turn the mansion into a sensational resort, while preserving the original beauty of the property. With plans for an addition, a spa and a dining area, it is easy to imagine Elm Court being a magnificent getaway for visitors, or a lovely escape for locals looking for a great dining experience or spa destination. I can imagine how the estate will look upon completion, with it’s richly appointed guest rooms, finely refurbished common rooms, and grand new additions. It will bring another fabulous venue to the community for lodging, weddings, and celebrations, and I for one can’t wait until their opening day
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