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

Writer/reporter Steve Crowe will focus on remembering a onetime dynamic Berkshire figure who created the celebrated Eastover Resort in Lenox when he presents “George Bisacca: His Life, His Way” at a Tea & Talk.  As the writer of the authorized memoir, Crowe autograph copies of his book of the same title during an accompanying Victorian tea.

Bisacca (1904—1984) was known throughout the county for his extravagant Fourth of July 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.

He was 14 years old when he left high school to work at the Remington Arms factory during World War 1.  When the foreman discovered his age, he fired him and told him to go back to school.  The youngster created an alias – Alfred Montesi – and got a new job in another department of the same factory.

George had enough spunk and the spirit of adventure to travel with Ringling Bros. Circus, harvest wheat in North Dakota and ride trains with hobos. Eventually he put his life savings into a rundown Lenox estate and turned it into the original Eastover Resort.

In 1979, George recounted his adventures in an interview for a pamphlet, “The Eastover Story.” Notes from that interview, stored in a shoebox for nearly 40 years, have preserved in his own words the telling of his story.

Crowe is a native of Lenox. He holds degrees from UMass/Amherst and Boston University. He was a reporter and editor for several North of Boston newspapers, including the Salem News and the (Lawrence) Eagle-Tribune. He has taught college writing courses in the U.S. and China. He and his wife, Betsy, live in Beverly, MA, and also have a home in Monterey, MA.

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 Crowe 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.

Sep
7
Sat
Tea & Talk – “The Story of the Lenox Tub Parade with Tjasa Sprague”
Sep 7 @ 3:30 pm

Ventfort Hall board member and veteran Lenox Tub Parade participant Tjasa Sprague will present a Tea & Talk on the story of this traditional event that dates back to the Gilded Age in the Berkshires.  Her presentation will be followed by a Victorian Tea.

Her talk coincides with the annual Lenox Main Street parade scheduled for the same day at 1:30 pm, co-sponsored by the Colonial Carriage & Driving Society and the Lenox Chamber.

The New York Times, 9/8/1895, printed: “Now that the hydrangeas, asters, and all the various flowers of this region are approaching perfection, the young women are reminded of the floral tub parade…”  (The Tub defined: an Irish term for a horse drawn cart.)

Over the years Sprague has collected clippings and historic photos of the Lenox Tub Parade. From 1983 it became an annual event again and, says Sprague, “there are countless photos and memories since then. Photos from Anna Alexandre’s photo album and others from the Stokes family show a glimpse into family life revealing how naturally the flower parades would celebrate the joys of the summer and fall seasons.”

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
10
Tue
Tea & Talk – “Life Along the Hudson: The Historic Livingston Country Estates”
Sep 10 @ 4:00 pm

Award-winning architecture and interiors photographer Pieter Estersohn will take us on a pictorial journey with “Life Along the Hudson: The Historic Country Estates of the Livingston Family.” The tour will relate to many of the thirty-five sublime country homes along the Hudson River that he photographed for his large-scale book of the same title. Autographed copies of his book will be available for purchase during the Victorian tea following his presentation.

Constructed on scenic land along the Hudson originally settled in the late 17th century by the influential Livingston family, these later country houses were lived in by descendants, including such 18th century landed gentry and 19th century industrialists as the Astors, Chanlers, Chapmans, Delanos and Roosevelts.

There were Dutch Colonial cottages and grander Gothic Revival, Federal, Georgian and Beaux-Arts residences. Architects that come to mind include Stanford White, A. J. Davis, Calvert Vaux, Warren and Wetmore and others. These houses were paired with expansive lawns and gardens with riverfront views.

Estersohn became fascinated with the subject of his book after purchasing and renovating one such property. He also took an earlier interest in both the imagery and history of country houses here and in Europe while doing fashion shoots for British and Italian Vogue. As he recalls: “I was living in Paris and I shot models in these incredible 18th-century houses.” Later he moved into shooting interiors for Elle Décor and Architectural Digest and then for Conde Nast Traveler and Departures. “I’ve worked on 70-something books, but this is the first book that I’ve written.”

The Summer 2019 series of fourteen Tea & Talks presented every Tuesday, of which the Estersohn is the concluding lecture, have been 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.

Sep
14
Sat
Tea & Talk – “Well-Wheeled: How Gilded Age Cottagers Fueled Early Automobiling”
Sep 14 @ 3:30 pm

Berkshire historian Bernard Drew will put the petal to the subject of early automobiling here at the mansion. His presentation will be followed by a Victorian Tea. He will have copies of his new book on the subject available for autographing.

Three fascinating individuals weave in and out of the story: Alden Sampson II, a young go-getter who became a promising manufacturer in Pittsfield, first of automobiles, then of rugged commercial trucks; Marguerite Westinghouse of Lee, always a passenger, never a driver, ever a champion of Good Roads; and the over-the-top bon vivant Cortlandt Field Bishop of Lenox, who showed his neighbors — receptive or not — how much pleasure motorcars could bring. A spin behind the wheel coincided with discovering the Berkshire’s best new roads and reporting back to friends and family.

With their affluence (and influence), the three savored French automobiles. Sampson initially assembled Moyea touring cars — licensed from the French manufacturer Rochet-Schneider — before making his own-brand of vehicles. Mrs. W toured, naturally, in a Westinghouse limousine made by one of her husband George’s Gallic subsidiaries. Bishop and his younger brother, David Wolfe Bishop Jr., couldn’t wait to bring home the latest road machines made by De Dion-Bouton, Panhard et Levassor or Société Mors. Cortlandt’s all-terrain, track-driven Citroën-Kégresse Autoneige was the first to be imported to the United States.

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
15
Sun
Murder Mystery Dinner Theater – “Murder Is in the Stars,” Doors open at 5:00 pm. Program starts and first course served at 5:30 pm
Sep 15 @ 5:00 pm – 8:30 pm

The Comical Mystery Tour ensemble returns to the mansion after their summer vacation with “Murder Is in the Stars” and invites the public to join the fun on Sunday, September 15th. Doors open at 5:00 pm. Program starts and first course served at 5:30 pm.

Lady Lydia the psychic, has called together a group of millionaires offering the gift of eternal life for the small sum of 5 million dollars. Some believe it is totally legit, but someone decides her life shouldn’t be eternal and drops the final curtain on her. Was it Big Bosco, the “Family” man, or Governor Bill Fold? It couldn’t be a politician, could it? I mean they are all so honest. How about Candy Cotton, the adult film star trying to make it big in legit movies or might it have been Gaylord Gabby, the fashion designer from the left coast. If Lydia were still alive she could tell you for sure. Wait a minute; if she is a real psychic, she would have known it was coming wouldn’t she? Come along and join us for another fun filled night of mystery and help figure out who offs Lady Lydia.

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, Sept. 11th. Seating is limited.  For reservations call us at 413-637-3206.

Sep
19
Thu
Pop-up Shop at “Downton Abbey” Movie at Phoenix Theatres Beacon Cinema, Pittsfield, MA
Sep 19 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Be the first to experience the romance, the intrigue and the grandeur as Phoenix Theatres Beacon Cinema present advance screenings of Downton Abbey Thursday, September 19. #DowntonAbbeyFilm. And stop by our pop-up shop featuring Downton Abbey merchandise in the theater lobby Thursday, Sept. 19, from 6 to 9 pm and Friday, Sept. 20 from 4 to 9:30 pm. All proceeds benefit Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum.

Save your movie ticket stub for a $5.00 discount off of a tour of Ventfort Hall, 104, Walker St., Lenox, MA. Offer good through the month of October 2019.

Ticketing Link – https://phx.movie/DowntonAbbey

The television series Downton Abbey followed the lives of the Crawley family and the servants who worked for them at the turn of the 20th century in an Edwardian English country house. Over its 6 seasons, the series garnered 3 Golden Globe Awards, 15 Primetime Emmy Awards, 69 Emmy nominations in total, making Downton Abbey the most nominated non-US television show in the history of the Emmys – even earning a Special BAFTA award and a Guinness World Record for the highest critically rated TV show along the way.

An Official Project of Save America’s Treasures program sponsored by The White House, Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum was built in 1893 for George and Sarah Morgan, who was the sister of financier J. P. Morgan. The museum offers tours of the historic mansion, as well as Tea & Talks, such exhibitions as the Bellefontaine Collection, theater, and other programs. This elegant Jacobean-Revival Berkshire “cottage,” listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is open to the public year round and is available for private rental.  Ventfort Hall has undergone substantial restoration, which continues.

Sep
20
Fri
Pop-up Shop at “Downton Abbey” Movie at Phoenix Theatres Beacon Cinema, Pittsfield, MA
Sep 20 @ 4:00 pm – 9:30 pm

Be the first to experience the romance, the intrigue and the grandeur as Phoenix Theatres Beacon Cinema present advance screenings of Downton Abbey Thursday, September 19. #DowntonAbbeyFilm. And stop by our pop-up shop featuring Downton Abbey merchandise in the theater lobby Thursday, Sept. 19, from 6 to 9 pm and Friday, Sept. 20 from 4 to 9:30 pm. All proceeds benefit Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum.

Save your movie ticket stub for a $5.00 discount off of a tour of Ventfort Hall, 104, Walker St., Lenox, MA. Offer good through the month of October 2019.

Ticketing Link – https://phx.movie/DowntonAbbey

The television series Downton Abbey followed the lives of the Crawley family and the servants who worked for them at the turn of the 20th century in an Edwardian English country house. Over its 6 seasons, the series garnered 3 Golden Globe Awards, 15 Primetime Emmy Awards, 69 Emmy nominations in total, making Downton Abbey the most nominated non-US television show in the history of the Emmys – even earning a Special BAFTA award and a Guinness World Record for the highest critically rated TV show along the way.

An Official Project of Save America’s Treasures program sponsored by The White House, Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum was built in 1893 for George and Sarah Morgan, who was the sister of financier J. P. Morgan. The museum offers tours of the historic mansion, as well as Tea & Talks, such exhibitions as the Bellefontaine Collection, theater, and other programs. This elegant Jacobean-Revival Berkshire “cottage,” listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is open to the public year round and is available for private rental.  Ventfort Hall has undergone substantial restoration, which continues.

Sep
27
Fri
Day Trip to Visit Two Extraordinary Historic Houses
Sep 27 all-day

You are invited to join us for an exclusive one-day excursion to visit two extraordinary historic houses overlooking the majestic Hudson River near Rhinebeck, New York.

WILDERSTEIN is the country home near Rhinebeck that we will visit in the morning.  Built in 1888 in the Queen Anne style for Robert Bowne Suckley and his wife Elizabeth Philips, the house greatly enlarged an 1852 Italianate house constructed for Suckley’s father Thomas.  One could refer to the somewhat similar history of Ventfort, the Italianate Lenox “cottage” built in the 1850s for Ogden Haggerty and his family, and replaced by Ventfort Hall in 1893.

The renovated Wilderstein was the design of Poughkeepsie architect Arnout Cannon, soaring to include a third floor, multi-gabled attic and a dramatic five-story circular tower with commanding views of the surrounding landscape.  The fanciful asymmetrical roof line of the house was complimented by the addition of an imposing porte cochere and a generous verandah (again, Ventfort Hall could be brought to mind).  Five of the principal rooms on the first floor were designed by Joseph Burr Tiffany, a younger cousin of Louis Comfort Tiffany.

The books, letters, photographs, furniture, paintings, art objects and china amassed by three generations of Suckleys are of great interest to both scholars and visitors.  The last resident of Wilderstein was Margaret (Daisy) Suckley. A distant cousin and confidante of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Miss Suckley traveled extensively with FDR during his presidency, gave him his famous Scottish terrier Fala and helped to establish his library in Hyde Park.  The letters they exchanged, which were discovered in a battered suitcase at Wilderstein, provide one of the best resources for understanding Roosevelt’s private life.

EDGEWATER at nearby Barrytown dates from 1825 and combines classical architecture with a dramatic setting, built on a small peninsula facing the Hudson and the Catskill Mountains beyond. With its Doric columns, high ceilings and tall windows, the mansion seems more suited to a Southern climate than the Hudson Valley.  The design of the house may possibly have been provided by Robert Mills, Charleston’s leading architect at the time.

Early owners included a Livingston, a name that resonates with many country houses lining the river.  After sitting empty for several decades, Edgewater was purchased in 1950 by the writer Gore Vidal, who found inspiration there by writing such best sellers as The Judgment of Paris (the proceeds of which paid for improvements to the house) and Myra Breckenridge.

 By 1969, Vidal was living in Rome when the late Richard Jenrette, co-founder of the Wall Street securities firm of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, took a serious liking to Edgewater and a quick sale ensued.  Aided by a group of friends who took on the title of the “Empire Mafia,” Jenrette painstakingly researched, located and reintroduced many of the Livingston furnishings.  Today the house is under the care of the Classical American Homes Preservation Trust established by Jenrette in 1993, a collection of seven architecturally significant houses that he had acquired.

Ventfort Hall has made arrangements for the excursion with a private motor coach leaving from the mansion, 104 Walker St. in Lenox, at 9:00 am and returning by 5:30 pm.  All-day parking at Ventfort Hall is arranged.  The cost of the tour is $165 and includes comfortable transportation, private tour admissions and a $50 fully tax-deducible donation to Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum. Participants will select from the menu and pay for lunch separately. Lunch will be in The Tavern at the Beekman Arms, since 1766 providing “culinary expertise” in a charming historic setting.

Call us at (413) 637-3206 to reserve your spot. Trip is limited to the first 25 people to reserve.

 

Oct
11
Fri
Moldovan Wine Seminar Presented by Nejaime’s
Oct 11 @ 5:30 pm

Discover the wines of Moldova, one of the oldest wine-growing regions in the world!

Presenting nine wines with Andrei Birsan of Wines of Moldova USA, an exclusive Moldovan wine importing company.

$35.00 per person. For an additional $15.00  enjoy a private guided tour of Ventfort Hall starting at 4:30 pm.

For reservations please call Nejaime’s at (413) 637-2221.

Oct
12
Sat
Tea & Talk – “Making Gotham Global: New York City from 1825 to 1929”
Oct 12 @ 3:30 pm

As the fourth appearance he will have made here at the mansion, Prof. Gary H. Darden will return to give a visual presentation on “Making Gotham Global: New York City from 1825 to 1929.” His lecture will be followed by a Victorian tea.

From the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 to the Stock Market Crash in 1929, New York City evolved from a regional port of little more than 100,000 people into the world’s largest urban area with nearly 8,000,000 people.

Central to its civic identity and economic power was the development of cultural and architectural assets befitting a global city of rank, one that emerged both through civic initiatives and the determination of its elites. This process radically reimagined the scale and scope of Gotham, from Central Park and its museum collections to its multitude of mansions and corporate skyscrapers.

In 2016, Darden lectured at Ventfort Hall on the decline of the British aristocracy leading up to World War I and a year later presented a talk on the architectural rivalries within the Vanderbilt family. Last year he covered the White House from presidential palace to the people’s palace.

Darden chairs the Department of Social Sciences & History at Fairleigh Dickinson, Becton College of Arts & Sciences, Madison, NJ.  He was awarded Teacher of the Year at the college.

His scholarly work includes articles for journals, encyclopedias and the historical text for the book, The American Soldier: From the Civil War to the War in Iraq, A Photographic Tribute, which accompanied a major exhibit touring the US.  Darden was also a moderator with documentary filmmaker Ken Burns.

Tickets for the Darden 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.