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The aristocracy of Boston and New York discovered Lenox, the Berkshire county seat, during the mid-1800's, and soon thereafter the rich and famous began to flock here routinely, particularly during the summertime. Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote "The House of Seven Gables" while living in a little red cottage just outside of town. (The cottage actually sits in Stockbridge, but Hawthorne always thought he lived in Lenox because its village center was nearby.) And Hawthorne's series of children's stories, entitled "Tanglewood Tales," provided the name for neighboring Tanglewood, which now serves as the Boston Symphony Orchestra's summer home.
In 1845, Samuel Gray Ward, the Boston banker who financed the United States' purchase of Alaska, built a summer home near Hawthorne's cottage. He was soon joined by wealthy Bostonians eager to share in the beautiful Berkshire countryside Ward bragged about so much. By 1885, mansions were popping up right and left.
The most magnificent new home proved to be Shadowbrook, a 100-room "cottage" surrounded by 900 lush acres situated on the outskirts of Lenox and Stockbridge. The original owner, railroad baron Anson Phelps Stokes, eventually sold his home, one of the largest in North America, to Andrew Carnegie, who died there in 1919. The Mount, another one of Lenox's impressive mansions, served as the summer home of novelist Edith Wharton and is now open to the public.
Lenox Chamber of Commerce
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