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.


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.

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.

October at Osceola House
Oct 19 @ 3:30 pm

October was always “peak season” at Lenox’s Osceola House for others, but original owners Edward and Sarah Livingston would be at their French country house “Villa Clermont” in the Pyrenees, conditioning their horses for the fox-hunting season.

This is just some of the fascinating knowledge that historian Cornelia Brooke Gilder and local craftsman Steve Baum will impart at a benefit lecture hosted by present owners Ernie and Jo Faraci in the mansion’s elegant reception rooms on Saturday, October 19 at 3:30 pm.  The event titled “October at Osceola House” will include the visual presentation as well as seasonal refreshments, benefiting the restoration and educational programs of Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum.

Boston architects Rotch and Tilden designed Osceola House for the Livingstons in 1889, shortly before beginning their biggest Lenox project, Ventfort Hall. Both were among the five Lenox “cottages” designed by the firm, all of which are extant.

Over the thirty-year period that the Livingstons owned Osceola House, it was frequently rented, and these long-term tenants, often their friends, were active in Lenox’s social life. Gilder will recount untold stories of Gilded Age romances, festive parties, sudden deaths and financial ruin which occurred in the mansion.

Baum, long experienced in Rotch and Tilden’s architecture through his extensive work at Ventfort Hall, will focus on the recent restoration work at Osceola House which he directed, bringing it back to the splendor of the Livingstons’ day.

Tickets for the Osceola House benefit event are $75.  Reservations are highly recommended as seating is limited.  For information or reservations call us at 413-637-3206.  Osceola House is located at 25 Cliffwood Street in Lenox.

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
Oct 19 @ 5:00 pm

The Comical Mystery Tour ensemble returns to the mansion with and encore performance of “Murder Is in the Stars” and invites the public to join the fun on Saturday, October 19th. 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, Oct. 16th. Seating is limited.  For reservations call us at 413-637-3206.