A Visit to Edith Wharton's Estate, The Mount
Photograph by David Dashiell
In 1902 Edith Wharton, who loved the climate and scenery of the Berkshire mountains in western Massachusetts, built a home in Lenox which she called The Mount. Ogden Codman, a young architect with whom Wharton had written The Decoration of Houses (1897), designed the principal rooms of The Mount. In The Decoration of Houses, Wharton and Codman rejected the cluttered and over-upholstered look of Victorian rooms and advocated classical principles of restraint and proportion inspired by European villas.
A visit to The Mount is offered as an extension of the tour organized by Friends of the Milwaukee Public Library to "Edith Wharton's New York City" in May. The author Henry James, a close friend of Wharton's, described The Mount as "an exquisite and marvelous place, a delicate French chateau." The estate has been restored to its original splendor. Particular care was taken in the recreation of Wharton's bedroom suite, down to the smallest details of fabric and paint chosen by her for the room in which she did most of her writing. The library at The Mount displays Wharton's personal collection of books.
Wharton, who was an authority on European landscape design and a passionate gardener, envisioned her gardens at The Mount as a series of elegant outdoor rooms complementing the house. On our visit we will see the restored grounds, including the beautiful Italianate walled garden, and have lunch on the sweeping terrace where Wharton entertained friends.
Last year photographer Annie Leibovitz created eight stunning scenes at The Mount for Vogue Magazine, with contemporary writers and actors cast as Edith Wharton and her friends.