Jul
16
Tue
Tea & Talk – “Lenox Rusticators on the Maine Coast”
Jul 16 @ 4:00 pm

Many Berkshire cottage owners of the Gilded Age also had summer houses in scenic Maine coastal resorts – Isleboro, Mount Desert and even Campobello across the border in Canada.

Historians Cornelia Brooke Gilder and Dr. Ronald H. Epp, author of Creating Acadia National Park: The Biography of George B. Dorr, will join to uncover the little-known story of the “Lenox Rusticators on the Maine Coast” here at the mansion on Tuesday, July 16. A Victorian tea will follow.

Gilder and Epp will tell how well-known Lenox figures – Dorrs, Kanes, Kinnicutts, Parsons and Jesups – participated in the land conservation and civic life of the emerging Maine resorts of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The story of the impact of the Berkshires on the development in particular of the park located on Mount Desert Island led by Dorr, the legendary conservationist and landscape designer, will also be told.  His vision of Acadia offered “one great element of wildness” – “contact with the ocean and the sight from mountainous heights of its great plain of waters.” He was also an advisor to gardening friends Beatrix Farrand at Bar Harbor, Maine and Edith Wharton at her Lenox estate.

The summer 2019 series of fourteen Tea & Talks presented every Tuesday until September 10 are sponsored by Ventfort Hall board member Lucille Landa and William Landa.

Cost to attend is $28 with advance reservation; $32 day of. Reservations are recommended as seating is limited. Call us at (413) 637-3206 for reservations.

Jul
20
Sat
CANCELLED – Murder Mystery Dinner Theater – “Murder Maiden China,” Doors open at 5:00 pm. Program starts and first course served at 5:30 pm
Jul 20 @ 5:00 pm

CANCELLED

The Comical Mystery Tour ensemble returns to the mansion with an encore performance of “Murder Maiden China,” and invites the public to join the fun on Saturday, June 29th. Doors open at 5:00 pm. Program starts and first course served at 5:30 pm.

Gertrude Ingrid Josephine Mattel, a.k.a. GI Jo, is running the Maiden China toy company since her father’s passing. He was well loved, but she is more of a dictator and has made some enemies. Actually, she doesn’t have many, if any friends, including her hen pecked husband, Lou Zerr. Her assistant, C. Alice Knightly, is more like a slave. Goldie Digger, Lou’s “secretary,” has no good feelings towards her, she thinks, well maybe she doesn’t, what were we talking about? Charlie Brown III is the delivery guy for “This Side UP” package service. She calls him names every time he makes a delivery. Someone gets sick of it and GI Joe ends up in permanent retirement. Come along for the ride and help figure who offed Joe.

In production since 1995, The Comical Mystery Tour has had over 50,000 audience members viewing and/or participating in their programs. The ensemble appears regularly at Ventfort Hall.

Cost to attend is $40 per person including a full course dinner. A cash bar is available for beer and wine. Reservations are required by Wednesday, July 17th. Seating is limited.  For information or reservations call us at 413-637-3206.

Jul
23
Tue
Tea & Talk – “After Emily: The Women Who Introduced Emily Dickinson”
Jul 23 @ 4:00 pm

This is a story of discovery that will be presented by author, journalist and Tufts University professor Julie Dobrow. She is the author of After Emily: Two Remarkable Women and the Legacy of America’s Greatest Poet, copies of which she will autograph at the following Victorian tea.

When Emily Dickinson died in 1886, she was unknown outside the small circle of her family and friends. Her sister, Lavinia, promised she would burn all of Emily’s papers once she was gone. But Lavinia could not bring herself to destroy the remarkable cache of nearly 1,800 poems she discovered after Emily’s death.

Instead she sought an editor, a person who knew and loved Emily, who could decipher the confusing manuscripts and put them into publishable form. Mabel Loomis Todd was that person. Though Emily and Mabel never met face-to-face, the friendship they had built through correspondence afforded Mabel the insight she would need as she and her daughter, Millicent Todd Bingham, built Emily’s literary legacy.

For decades the story of Mabel and Millicent’s lives and their integral role in editing and publicizing Emily Dickinson’s poems and shaping the myth of the so-called “Belle of Amherst” had been waiting in the archives. Thanks to Dobrow the full story behind Mabel and Millicent’s work is finally revealed.  Dobrow first became interested in Emily Dickinson when she was in college and routinely walked past the Dickinson homes in Amherst, MA. She devoured biographies of Emily and grew curious about Mabel, known only for her role as one of Emily’s first editors or as the lover of Austin Dickinson, Emily’s older brother. Dobrow began to work in the enormous archives of Mabel and Millicent’s papers at Yale University—neither woman ever threw out a scrap of paper—and the project began to grow.

The new biography weaves together the stories of Emily, Mabel and Millicent using hundreds of primary source materials, many of which have never before been quoted in published works. Dobrow’s work allows readers to hear the thoughts, hopes and sorrows of these women in their own words—from the unforgettable feuds between Mabel and members of the Dickinson family, to Millicent’s struggles growing up steeped in her mother’s obsession with editing Dickinson’s works, to their own close but complicated connection.

With the final success of the poems, tensions between the Dickinson and Todd families grew over the ownership of Emily’s work and the right to shape her legacy. This culminated in a sensational lawsuit, which ultimately prompted Mabel to lock the remaining poems in a chest for decades, only opening it near the end of her life with her daughter. Determined to ensure Emily’s legacy, Millicent abruptly changed her professional course and edited and published the remaining poems. But carrying on her mother’s work haunted Millicent for the rest of her life.

Dobrow is a professor with appointments in the department of Child Study and Human Development and the Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University and serves as director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies. Her writing has appeared in Boston Globe Magazine and the Huffington Post, among other publications.

The summer 2019 series of fourteen Tea & Talks are sponsored by Ventfort Hall board member Lucille Landa and William Landa.

Cost to attend is $28 with advance reservation; $32 day of. Reservations are recommended as seating is limited. Call us at (413) 637-3206 for reservations.

Jul
26
Fri
Free Fun Friday
Jul 26 @ 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

We’re excited to announce that we are among the 100 institutions across Massachusetts participating in this year’s Free Fun Friday initiative, thanks to our partnership with the Highland Street Foundation! Admission will be free on July 26th.

The first floor and grounds will be open. Our second floor will be closed. We look forward to seeing you!

For more info about Free Fun Friday visit: http://www.highlandstreet.org/programs/free-fun-fridays-2019

Jul
30
Tue
Tea & Talk – “John White Alexander: An American Gilded Age Artist”
Jul 30 @ 4:00 pm

Mary Anne Goley, art historian and founding Director of the Fine Arts Program of the Federal Reserve Board, Washington, D.C., will give a visual presentation on John White Alexander, the subject of her book of the same title published last year.  Goley, acknowledged as the expert on Alexander,  will autograph copies of her book at the Victorian tea following her presentation.

Considered on a par with his contemporaries John Singer Sargent and William Merritt Chase, the once acclaimed portrait painter John White Alexander is especially recognized for his figure paintings of women striking evocative poses and elaborately arranged in flowing gowns. These works of art have gained Alexander greater acclaim than his international career of painting portraits of men, women and children.

The artist had an exceptional talent for expressing sentiment through movement and gesture, capturing the essence of the female form in the process.  Goley pinpoints the fact that Alexander found his own unique style when he encountered Juliette Very, the Parisian model who became his muse.

Goley’s focus on Alexander began in 1973 when she had early access to historical materials she found in the untouched Alexander estate.  Three years later, she organized the first exhibit of Alexander’s work at the National Collection of Fine Arts, now the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

As the sole art historian at the Federal Reserve Board, 1975 – 2006, Goley held responsibilities similar to those involved in running a small museum, collecting, fundraising and organizing exhibitions, including everything from New York Graffiti artists to the first American exhibition of the Scottish architect, designer and artist, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and built the Federal Reserve’s recognized permanent collection.  In 1982, her landmark exhibition, The Hague School and Its American Legacy caught the attention of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, who knighted Goley.

The summer 2019 series of fourteen Tea & Talks are sponsored by Ventfort Hall board member Lucille Landa and William Landa.

Tickets for the Goley Tea & Talk are $28 for advance reservations and $32 day of the event.  Reservations are highly recommended as seating is limited.  For reservations call us at 413-637-3206.  The historical mansion is located at 104 Walker Street in Lenox.

Aug
6
Tue
Tea & Talk – “Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861 – 2008”
Aug 6 @ 4:00 pm

Author and museum curator Robin Jaffee Frank will give a presentation on “Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861 – 2008,” the subject of a traveling art exhibition for which she was the curator and lead author of the accompanying catalogue and succeeding hardcover book.  Frank will take her audience for a visual ride here at the mansion. During a Victorian tea following her presentation, the speaker will autograph copies of the book.

Called “America’s Playground,” Coney Island is a world-famous resort and national cultural symbol that has inspired music, literature and films.  The groundbreaking book is the first to look at the site’s enduring status as inspiration for artists, from its inception as an elite seaside resort in the mid-19th century to its evolution into an entertainment mecca for the masses and to its decline and eventual closing.

How artists chose to portray Coney Island between 1861 and 2008 – in tableaux of wonder and menace, hope and despair, dreams and nightmares – mirrored the aspirations and disappointments of the era.

Frank, considered an innovative art museum curator, has organized exhibitions, lectured and published widely on American visual culture from the colonial to contemporary periods.  As chief curator of the Wadsworth Athenaeum, she oversaw the museum’s reinstallation of its newly renovated galleries, opened in 2015.  Before then, she was a curator at the Yale University Art Gallery.

The summer 2019 series of fourteen Tea & Talks are sponsored by Ventfort Hall board member Lucille Landa and William Landa.

Tickets for the tea & Talk are $28 for advance reservations and $32 day of the event.  Reservations are highly recommended as seating is limited.  For reservations call us at 413-637-3206.

Aug
13
Tue
Tea & Talk – “Archer Milton Huntington & the Hispanic Society of America Museum”
Aug 13 @ 4:00 pm

Considered one of the ten richest men in America during the Gilded Age, Archer Milton Huntington “was so intensely private that to this day very little is known about him,” according to historian Francis Morrone.  Based on material that he has uncovered, Morrone will present his findings here at the mansion followed by a Victorian tea.

The speaker discovered a wealth of information about the elusive Huntington in the process of writing a detailed report on the family’s mansion at 1083 Fifth Avenue in New York City.  Huntington, among other extraordinary endeavors, was the founder of the Hispanic Society of America Museum located in the Audubon Terrace complex in Upper Manhattan.

Morrone’s report dovetails with the reopening this fall of the museum, considered a major event under the dynamic leadership of Philippe de Montebello.  He is the former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Hispanic Society of America Museum contains more than 18,000 works in almost every medium, including paintings, drawings, sculptures, decorative arts and useful arts dating from the Paleolithic to the 20th century from Spain, Portugal and Latin America.  Spanish paintings alone include works by Valesquez, El Greco and Goya with his famous “Duchess of Alba.”  Fourteen large-scale paintings depicting “Vision of Spain” are by Joaquin Soralla y Bastida.

Huntington was the stepson of railroad magnate and industrialist Collis P. Huntington, whose nephew, Henry E. Huntington, founded the Huntington Library at San Marino, CA. Archer’s wife, Anna Hyatt Huntington, was considered one of the leading sculptors of their day, whose works still grace the Hispanic Society of America Museum.

Morrone will be returning for his seventh summer at Ventfort Hall. He is also the author of eleven books, including architectural guide books.  His writings have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the New Criterion, City Journal and the New York Sun, where he was an art and architecture critic.  He teaches architectural and urban history at New York University, and is the recipient of the university’s Excellence in Teaching Award.  Travel + Leisure magazine named him as one of the 13 best tour guides in the world.  He has also received an Arthur Ross Award from the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art.

The summer 2019 series of fourteen Tea & Talks presented every Tuesday until September 10 are sponsored by Ventfort Hall board member Lucille Landa and William Landa.

Tickets for the Jerome talk are $28 for advance reservations and $32 day of the event.  Reservations are highly recommended as seating is limited.  For reservations call usl at 413-637-3206.

Aug
20
Tue
Tea & Talk – “The Grandest Madison Square Garden: Art, Scandal and Architecture in Gilded Age New York”
Aug 20 @ 4:00 pm

There is a cast of fascinating characters in The Grandest Madison Square Garden: Art, Scandal and Architecture in Gilded Age New York by art historian and museum director Suzanne Hinman. Her remarkable story centers on the most beautiful of the Gardens (1890) and the controversial 18-foot nude sculpture of Diana, Virgin Goddess of the Hunt that crowned it. The prominent players are pals; architect Stanford White and sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Cost to attend is $28 with advance reservation; $32 day of. Reservations are recommended as seating is limited. Call us at (413) 637-3206 for reservations.

Aug
27
Tue
Tea & Talk – “New York Exposed: The Gilded Age Police Scandal”
Aug 27 @ 4:00 pm

Prof. Daniel Czitrom latest book New York Exposed: The Gilded Age Police Scandal That Launched the Progressive Movement reveals several key themes that resonate today: vote fraud and suppression, police brutality, stubborn resilience of partisan politics and anti-urbanism in American life during the early 1890s involving the NY Police Department and Tammany Hall.  Explosive charges and a crusade leveled against them rooted out corrupt cops and crooked politicians. Cost to attend is $28 with advance reservation; $32 day of. Reservations are recommended as seating is limited. Call us at (413) 637-3206 for reservations.

Sep
3
Tue
Tea & Talk – “George Bisacca: His Life, His Way”
Sep 3 @ 4:00 pm

“George Bisacca: His Life, His Way” presented by Berkshire native and reporter Steve Crowe will renew memories of Eastover Resort’s founder.  The beloved subject – there is an accompanying book – was known for his lavish July 4th parade floats, his herds of bison and longhorn steer, his cannon finales for The 1812 Overture at Tanglewood and his generous support of the community. Crowe’s interview notes, stored in a shoe box for nearly 40 years, were the basis for the memoir. Cost to attend is $28 with advance reservation; $32 day of. Reservations are recommended as seating is limited. Call us at (413) 637-3206 for reservations.