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Deep in the Heart of the Berkshires: The Hampton Terrace in Lenox, Mass

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Hampton Terrace: 91 Walker Street in Lenox, Massachusetts

A Great Place to Kick Back and Relax in the Berkshires

Hampton Terrace. Photo Courtesy of Jumping RocksThinking of venturing to the Berkshires for the weekend? It’s a great place to spend a few days, and right in the heart of the area is a very charming B&B that not only is connected to the region’s rich history, but is also a great place to kick back and relax.

Lenox is a small town of about 5,000 people conveniently nestled in the mountains and within reach of other towns such as Pittsfield, Lee and Great Barrington. It’s here that Stan and Susan Rosen (and their super friendly dog Atticus, who, according to Stan, runs the place) have transformed a late 19th century mansion, complete with a carriage house and adjacent cottages into The Hampton Terrace, a charming, full time inn with a family owned feel, that also serves as a romantic getaway.

Lenox was home to noted families as the Astors, the Vanderbilts, as well as such individuals as Andrew Carnegie, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edith Wharton. Many large mansions, originally designed as summer homes, still dot the landscape as it was once a secluded getaway for the wealthy (some of these houses were actually built as an attempt to showcase their owner’s wealth and outdo one another); many of these homes hosted lavish parties and were the hub of social activity during the summer season in the Gilded Age.

The Inn

The Rosen’s have painstakingly renovated the house, which they purchased in 1999, and beautifully adorned in late 19th and early 20th century décor. “Most of the mansions in this area went through fifty years of neglect or abandonment, or they became apartments of offices,” says Stan. “There was a period between the 1930s and 1980s where these houses were partitioned. That was the opportunity for people to come through and take out mantles and sconces and moldings. In this house, everything is original.”

The house went through a succession of owners. It was originally built in the late 1890s by John Struthers, who with his brother William, owned one of biggest marble contracting businesses in the country at the time. “John and his wife Virginia used the house as their summer residence for twenty years.” says Stan. “They sold it in 1917 to Ed Bonner, whose father, Robert founded the New York Ledger in 1855, one of the largest weekly newspapers in America. There’s a famous quote in the NY Times that says that ‘other than PT Barnum and Ulysses S. Grant, Robert Bonner is the most recognizable name in America.’ Ed’s wife Kate d’Anterroches, was the great granddaughter of General Lafayette and they had several homes, including one in Saratoga where they owned several race horses. The Bonners owned every famous race horse for half a century, including Hambletonian, and Maud S., who was William H. Vanderbilt‘s prize race horse.”

Stan added that “the Bonners sold the house to a family named the Gieses in 1937, the same year that Tanglewood was given to the Boston Symphony, so summer concerts in the Berkshires by the BSO then became an annual event. There weren’t many places for people to stay, so the house became a guest house in 1937. Between then and 1968, the house was owned by various families, primarily as a family house that hosted people in the summer. It was bought in 1968 by a couple who owned it for 31 years, who sold it to us in 1999.”

The main living room features furnishings that include comfy chairs and couches that take you back in time to the late 19th century. A roaring fireplace, plenty of antique books and a grand piano played by none other than composer John Williams (it’s true! There’s a letter from him to prove it!) are just some of the neat accoutrements you’ll find here. The main house also hosts a unique side bar, straight out of the 19th century, where you can sit back with some whiskey or a glass of wine…but you have to bring your own stock with you.

The Accommodations

The Rarus Room at Hampton Terrace. Photo Courtesy of Jumping RocksEach room in the Main House has been named after a previous owner (such as the Spencer, Bonner, Struthers and Walker rooms), while the units in the carriage house (aka Wynnstay Cottage) honor the Bonner’s many race horses. “These horses had names like Dexter, Pocahontas, Rarus, and Sunol,” adds Stan. “Once we learned about the Bonners and their connection to racing, we decided to name the rooms after their horses, which has been a great way to tell the story of the inn through the rooms.”

Wynnstay Cottage and the King Suite Cottages are separate from the main house. The carriage house has been updated to feature six additional guest rooms, all of which have been fitted with gas flame fireplaces, vintage furnishings as well as a jacuzzi in each bathroom.

We stayed in the Rarus Room in the carriage house, named after a horse who had broken the world record in harness racing, or trotting (with times of 2:14 and 2:13¼ respectively in 1878). The room was incredibly cozy, with a comfy queen size bed and soothing forest green walls. Accoutrements include a gas flame corner fireplace and a 72” jacuzzi tub. Each room comes equipped with a cd player and a TV/VCR, equipped with cable.

The carriage house features a downstairs lounge that resembles a 1950s era smoking room, with cushy leather couches as well as a fireplace; perfect for sitting back with some coffee while reading a book. The lounge also has a mixed variety of books and VHS tapes if you feel like reading or watching a movie.

Each room also comes with a binder full of information, including listings of local restaurants, museums and other activities as well as information on the house. The main lobby of the inn also has numerous handouts including flyers and maps to help you organize any day trips and related activities. All rooms are non-smoking, yet there are several benches outside on the premises where you can have a puff, as long as you take your butts with you.

A very nice touch is that the inn is across the street from the Trinity Episcopal Church, where the bells toll every hour on the hour.

Time for Breakfast

The Rosens also whip up a mean southern-style breakfast buffet. In the spacious and elegant dining room you’ll find generous servings of pancakes, french toast (definitely give the chocolate ones a try), hard boiled eggs, sausages, muffins and assorted breads, a variety of fresh fruit, and yes, coffee. The main dining room has two tables where the guests congregate every morning from 8:30-10am; there’s also a small sun room on the side if you want to eat in private with a scenic view. While some like to keep to themselves, it’s a warm and inviting environment, so talking to your fellow guests won’t kill you.

The Rosens also will go out of their way for you if you have any kind of dietary concerns or needs. “If you need something while staying here…please ask for it,” says Stan. “Personal attention is why you stay in an inn, so let us give it to you.”

Things To Do in the Area 

The Living Room at Hampton Terrace. Photo Courtesy of Jumping RocksWe found it interesting that you don’t really need a map to get around the area. Street signs are plentiful and clearly marked, so you can easily get around. There’s plenty to do within Lenox and the surrounding area.

The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge is a quick 12 mile ride down the road; a comprehensive museum that showcases all of his Saturday Evening Post covers as well as original paintings by this treasured American icon.

If it’s food you’re after, give Jae’s Asian Fusion in Lenox a whirl, the Spice Dragon in Pittsfield has amazing curry clay pots and Bizen in Great Barrington is an ever popular Japanese place, which the Boston Globe has rated as the “Best Sushi Outside of Japan.” Cafe Reva in Pittsfield is a great little hole in the wall breakfast place that sometimes has lines going down the block; definitely have the Huevos Rancheros!

If you’re into rummaging, there’s Wild Sage on North Street in Pittsfield, a vintage thrift store with used books, DVDs and video tapes for sale, among other items.

If you don’t want to drive, you can actually walk one block from the inn to Church Street, where there are numerous restaurants, bars and small, local galleries to explore.

Lenox also has plenty of museums and theatrical festivals throughout the year such as Shakespeare & Company, the Tanglewood Music Center, Cranwell Resort & Spa, the Ferlinghuysen Morris House & Studio, The Mount/Edith Wharton Home, Ventfort Hall & Gilded Age Museum, Kennedy Park, the Berkshire Museum and much more, all within reach from Hampton Terrace.

The Berkshires generate 2.5 to 3 million tourists a year, mainly in the summer for the concert season at Tanglewood. According to Stan, roughly 65% of his visitors come from the greater Manhattan area, with the remainder coming from eastern Massachusetts and elsewhere. “The Berkshires have been a growing tourist thing over the years,” he adds. “I think that the reputation grew and grew and now it’s at critical mass. I was told before we bought this inn that the Berkshires are ‘relatively recession proof’ and I completely agree with that. The Berkshires are like comfort food for many many New Yorkers. They went to camp here, they came here with their parents, it’s a place that people know.”

Rooms range in price during peak and regular seasons from $199 midweek ($275 for the King Suite Cottages) to $299 per weekend ($375 for the King Suite Cottages). Other per week rates range from $1,200-$2,225.

The Hampton Terrace is located at 91 Walker Street in Lenox, Massachusetts. For more information, contact or call 800-203-0656.

Dave Bower and Monica Sirignano are Co-Publishers of The Free George. Photos Courtesy of Jumping Rocks.

The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.

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