A few weeks ago I had the relaxing experience of going to Canyon Ranch. While I was in Lenox, MA. I of course had to visit Edith Wharton’s home, The Mount, which is conveniently just down the street. It’s an elegant estate and gardens. Wharton designed and built the classical revival house and its formal gardens in 1902 according to the principles she developed in her first book, “The Decoration of Houses“. You are able to tour the house from May-October.
It was here that Wharton fashioned a world of beauty, where she wrote some of her greatest works including such enduring classics as “The House of Mirth” and “Ethan Frame“. Edith Wharton (1862-1937) was one of America’s greatest writers, producing 40 books in 40 years, including authoritative works on architecture, gardens, interior design and travel. She was the first woman awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
As I walked the halls, you can see how she implemented the virtues of proportion harmony and simplicity. Restoration of the home was initiated in 1997 and continues today. The Drawing Room – our living room, was recreated by Charlotte Moss, whom I worked for when I first started my career in Interior Design. It is the largest room in the house measuring 36’ x 20’ and the only room with an elaborate ceiling treatment. Highlights of the original decoration included two c. 1710 Brussels tapestries set into the walls, which have been reproduced from photographs. The room also features a beautiful French marble mantel, terrazzo floors which in Wharton’s day were probably covered with an Aubusson carpet.
The other room which has been fully restored is the Dining Room, recreated by Bunny Williams. It features a white-painted round Victorian table with French armchairs.
Wharton was an avid gardener. The restored gardens include a kitchen garden, a lime walk of Linden trees, the walled garden- an Italian-style “giardino segreto” – hidden garden include fieldstone walls, fountain and pergola, and the flower and rock gardens.
For those who would like to purchase one of Edith Wharton’s books, there is also a bookstore which stocks her books, many difficult to find.
For more information visit EdithWharton.org, or phone 413-551-5107.