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.