Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Visiting The Mount

 When Hurricane Sandy hit, I had just returned from a short trip to Boston, where I spent a long weekend visiting my friend Lara. On that Friday, we drove out to The Berkshires and spent the day visiting Edith Wharton's historic home, The Mount. Of course I snapped a lot of pictures while I was there, if you'd care to see.

Wharton was an avid book lover and collector and the library at The Mount is filled with thousands of books that belonged to her personal collection. There are apparently another couple thousand that are not on display because they are still being reviewed and studied for all of the notes Wharton wrote in the margins. Wouldn't that be a fascinating job to do?

The Mount was sold after Wharton relocated to Europe and it changed hands several more times before being restored as an historical site. Because of that, most of the furniture (aside from the library) in the house are new reproductions and not the original items that Wharton actually used. You might think that this lack of artifacts would cause The Mount to lack a sense of authenticity, but I actually found the opposite to be the case. Because the majority of the pieces are not precious antiques, you can fully wander through the rooms, even sitting down if you'd like. You have the sense that you're experiencing the rooms the way that Wharton did.

Wharton's bedroom was light, airy, and feminine. Her routine was to spend the mornings writing in bed, dropping each handwritten sheet to the floor once she had filled it. She also loved her dogs and made them an integral part of her home, as represented by the small stuffed versions that are strategically placed around The Mount.

I found Wharton's views about decorating a home to be very inspiring, both in terms of her larger ideas about creating beautiful spaces for yourself and in terms of small, specific things, like the way she surrounded herself with books and incorporated them around her home. Books are casually stacked on tables or tucked into nooks and crannies in nearly every room. Touring The Mount made me feel reinvigorated to think about the way I decorate my space and creating some new groupings of books may be an easy place to start.

The grounds were beautiful, too, albeit a bit subdued now that the fall is turning colder. Visible from nearly every room, the gardens serve as an extension of the home and mimic Wharton's preferences for balance and symmetry of form.

The Mount was by far my favorite historical home I've ever toured. It's a must-see in New England for literary and interior design buffs alike.


  1. Beautiful pictures! I so wanted to visit when I was living in New York but never got the chance. I must go next time I'm in the States!

  2. Gorgeous. Classically American. I love E. W. and am currently reading "Scoop". Thanks for sharing!

  3. On behalf of The Mount, I am writing to let you know how much we appreciate your posting the lovely photos and commentary about your recent visit. We are delighted to learn that you consider The Mount a favorite and a must-see! We look forward to welcoming you back, and for the chance to host your readers as well.

  4. Now that you've seen her amazing home and gardens, you would probably love reading a biography about Edith. I recommend the 2010 YA bio The Brave Escape of Edith Wharton by Connie Norhielm Wooldridge. Connie has served as a member of The Mount's advisory board on the events commemorating EW's 150th birthday this past year. The book is also filled with photos spread throughout - including The Mount! Enjoy!

    1. Sounds interesting. Thanks for the recommendation.

  5. What a lovely post - thank you so much for sharing it with my Wharton Review month.

    I've just been reading the chapter in the Hermione Lee bio about the building of The Mount - your photos helped to bring it to life.
    I love the photo's where you're peeking through curtains and doorways into the other rooms & I also like the idea of using books as decorative items throughout the home.

    Thanks again.

  6. Your photographs are wonderful! I can imagine that it was a very inspiring visit. I really want to go visit The Mount myself now.



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