Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Dame Edna Everage and Edith Wharton--one and the same?

According to an article on the Travel and Leisure website, Australian superstar Dame Edna Everage shares a special bond with Edith Wharton! "Thomas A. Goldwasser Rare Books has very interesting things by Edith Wharton. Do you believe in past lives? Well, in my past life I was Edith Wharton. So I like going there and reading my own things.”
One is not completely convinced, though one must agree that both share a gift of keen observation of human nature, as well as an appreciation of the finer things in life ...

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Mount wins Greylock award

This summer, The Mount, Chesterwood, Hancock Shaker Village, and The Norman Rockwell Museum launched the American Icons joint discounted ticket promotion, a new collaborative effort that brought the four national treasures together for the first time. Starting on August 1, 2008, Berkshire county residents and visitors from near and far were able to purchase a "Pick Two" pass or an "American Icons" pass for all four cultural organizations at a discounted admission rate. The program offered a comprehensive experience of the best that the Berkshires has to offer at a great price. As a result of this new promotion, the Berkshire Visitor's Bureau recently awarded The Mount and its collaborators a new Greylock Award for Outstanding Industry Collaboration. American Icons was so successful that the four venues intend to partner again next summer.

We hope you will come and visit us next season, and be able to take advantage of these wonderful Berkshires treasures!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

“I Lived Among the Ghosts of Novels”

The grand old house, sitting on about 113 acres outside the town of Lenox, stands stark white against a sea of green trees of all types. She was, at one time, one of the grand Victorian ladies of the Berkshires. Who was she?

She is called The Mount and was the home of the American authoress, Edith Wharton, who had her built in 1902, as reflection of herself. It was here, in the library that looked out passed the wide veranda and over the sweeping gardens and lawns to Laurel Lake, where many of Wharton’s books were written: Ethan Frome, Age of Innocence, The House of Mirth. Mrs. Wharton claimed that The Mount was her “first real home” and The Mount remained so for ten years until the ill health of her husband, Teddy, forced them to leave the idyllic setting.

The Mount saw several owners after Mrs. Wharton sold her in 1912 and before I first saw her in the fall of 1962, when I had become a freshman at The Foxhollow School, a private girls’ boarding school.
Miss Aileen M. Farrell, founder and head of Foxhollow, had purchased the property in 1942 in order to expand the growing school and installed the juniors and seniors in what had been the servants’ sleeping quarters in the attic and the bedrooms on the 2nd floor. Miss Farrell utilized the stables that were further down the road and part of the estate; filling the stalls with riding horses.

I spent 2 years up in the attic, where the call box reminded us daily of the history of our dormitory by reflecting labels such as “Mrs. Wharton’s Room,” “Library,” “Dining Room,” and so forth. Fond memories remain of ice cream binges on the week-end in the kitchen. We were forbidden to use the main staircase and were relegated to the back door and back stairs to gain access to our rooms; the only exception to the rule was for the junior/senior prom in June, when the front door would be unlocked and opened with our escorts meeting us downstairs taking us up the grand staircase to the ballroom and terrace for the night’s festivities.

Foxhollow closed its doors in the late 1970s – but, not before Miss Farrell had had the foresight to have the estate placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In the 1980s, Edith Wharton Restorations took over the building and, with grants, started the massive and extensive restoration of The Mount. Quite a bit had to be done, as the building was literally falling apart. After spending almost $15 million dollars, The Mount re-opened her doors to the public for lectures and tours of the grounds. Today, however, the estate faces foreclosure, a catastrophe which would result in closing the house and grounds to the public, perhaps forever. Just over one hundred years have past – one hundred years that saw the passing of time through the books and novellas of Mrs. Wharton and 30 or so teen-aged girls playing their records and radios. There are many voices and ghosts of different eras that roam the halls and rooms – my ghost and voice is still there, as is my heart. The time I spent there went by all too quickly; but, my memories will remain forever.

Pamela Taylor

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Edith Wharton's necklace

If anyone out there has an odd $60,000 to $80,000 to spare, they might wish to attend the auction of New York Jewels at Christie's on December 11 in New York. A beautiful necklace (dog-collar) which once belonged to Edith Wharton is being sold from "the collection of a gentleman". For details go to their website at http://www.christies.com/LotFinder/lot_details.aspx?from=salesummary&intObjectID=5166600&sid=9ac51ea4-52e9-41de-b45d-673df9a28a68 and have a look! Happy bidding--of course, you could always give it a nice home here at The Mount!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Memories of an "ex-Mountie"

(posted November 21)
I worked at the Mount giving tours for several summers around 1986-1991 when I was home from college. As an English major, I loved the history of the place. I am so impressed with all the beautiful renovations! When I was there, Shakespeare & Co. still had their stage set up on the upper wall of the sunken garden. I remember taking a tour group through and opening up the door to the main salon and having a group of actors all lying on the floor saying, "Haaaaa! Haaaaa!" I loved showing guests the "fake" door in the library. One of my last experiences there was the other workers giving me a wedding shower in the dining room. The Mount has improved so much since I was there that it is a shame that it faces closure. It truly is a gem.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Glimpses of the Moon Benefit Performance

Planning to be in New York City on December 1 ? Make those plans, and get over to the Algonquin Hotel for a benefit performance of a new musical based on Edith Wharton's Jazz Age novel, Glimpses of the Moon. We are so very excited and grateful to the producers of the show for putting on this performance, which will directly benefit the Save the Mount campaign. Please see their website (http://www.glimpsesofthemoon.com/) for more information or call us directly at 413.551.5104 to reserve tickets.

The Mount

Update from the Mount

As you can see by our website, we are happy to extend our hours into the fall again this year. We will be open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through Dec. 21, from 10am to 4pm, with the Bookstore open those same hours as well. Please come visit and do some early holiday shopping. And we are working on decking the halls with some holiday decor, we will post more details and dates on this soon. And speaking of dates, opening day for the 2009 season is scheduled for Friday, May 1!

However, we are still dependent on your continued support and successful agreement with the banks, so please continue to spread the word and visit us during November and December.

The Staff and Volunteers at The Mount

From a visitor in September

I visited your place once, in a very hard time of my life. It was so beautiful and it was raining, however I loved it very much... I {will} forward this site wherever appropriate so people will know more and visit. It is a history of art and women, (my daughter loves her books). She is a fashion designer herself, so this is close to interior design.
I hope you will preserve this place and I hope I will visit again. In the meantime I am going to support you and will place my name on mailing list.

Best of Luck,

Dr Elizabeth Dorosz

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Update from The Mount

We are having a very exciting fall here at The Mount. Last week we had a visit from over 60 high school students from Naugatuck, CT who are reading Ethan Frome, The Age of Innocence or The House of Mirth in their classes. On the same day we were visited by Erin Moriarty and her team from CBS. She interviewed some of the students about their experience at The Mount, as well as Susan Wissler, our Acting Director, about the status of the Save The Mount campaign. The piece is due to air this weekend (Oct. 12)on CBS's Sunday Morning so mark it on your calendars.
We are looking forward to a gorgeous autumn Columbus Day weekend. The highlight of the three-day holiday for us will be this Monday the 13th when the main gates of The Mount will once more open to welcome the gleaming carriages and high-stepping horses of a bygone era, as part of Berkshire Coaching Weekend.
See our main web site for the details and please make plans to join us!

The Staff and Volunteers at The Mount

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Update from the Mount

We'd like to share just a few of the comments from some of our visitors this summer:

A guest from July 10th writes:
"My daughter and I had a wonderful time visiting The Mount. We loved the gardens and all the beautiful flowers. I took many pictures of the gardens. We met a friendly guide. We purchased a few items in the gift shop and gave a donation."

And from July 8th:
"My husband and I spent a wonderful afternoon at The Mount on Sunday. The tour was very informative and the restoration efforts are very impressive. I hope you'll be able to continue with the fine work you're doing. We'll definitely recommend that our friends pay a visit, and we'll be reading more Edith Wharton in the the future."

We would like to thank both these visitors for their kind words and support, and hope they, like many others, will be able to make return visits in the future.

The Staff and Volunteers at The Mount

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Save the Mount

(posted August 5th)
I have visited the Mount twice. Once when it was closed and being restored, I wandered around the overgrown gardens and day dreamed that it was alive with Edith's guests including Henry James. I returned with my husband some years later and was amazed at all that had been accomplished and got to see the interior of the mansion. There are many historic homes of American writers but very few which belonged to American women writers. The Mount is special because Edith Wharton not only was an amazing author but she also knew about garden and home design and balance. It must be saved!

Susan Rosenthal
1211 Oxford Place
Schenectady, NY 12308
email trevi@netheaven.com

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Good Wishes from DC

I have never visited The Mount. But, I am a fervent supporter of house museums, and a volunteer at the Hillwood Museum and Gardens in Washington, DC. I think it is very important that current day citizens have an opportunity to see how well-to-do persons lived in days gone by, and of course, gardens are a joy to behold wherever. I hope you reach your goal. I wish I could give more.
Jane J.

(posted June 30)

Literary Idol

Tuesday, July 01, 2008
I would like to help save The Mount because, among other reasons, I have not yet had a chance to see it! I am a working mother of two small children, with an incredible volume of commitments. Reading is what soothes me, and Edith Wharton is my literary idol. Hoping to visit The Mount soon…

Elizabeth Moore

Monday, June 23, 2008

Update from The Mount

Many apologies for the silence from us on this blog. We have been, luckily, quite busy with getting the Mount up and running for the 2008 season. We have had many first-time visitors so far as well as loyal returnees. Several newspapers have run features that have inspired quite a few visitors particularly from Rhode Island and upstate New York. But we still urgently need everyone's help to support us and encourage people to visit.

We are looking forward at the end of this week to welcoming members of the Edith Wharton Society ( http://www.edithwhartonsociety.org/ ) who are holding their 2008 conference in Pittsfield and to the start of the Tanglewood season this Saturday with a live broadcast of Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion.

Our cafe is now serving lunch on the terrace and will soon start new evening hours on weekends in July and August, which should be quite magical. Old favorites like Wharton on Wednesday and the popular Monday lecture series are returning as well. Check our main web page for details, and come visit!

The Staff and Volunteers at The Mount

Martha Stewart & The Mount

Don't you think Martha Stewart should broadcast a show from The Mount? The history, the architecture, the exquisite interior design, the gardens, the painstaking restoration process -- there is a super abundance of material that is perfect for her TV show. Surely manyof her fans would then be inspired to visit, and perhaps contribute.
It would be wonderful if Martha herself would also contribute to save The Mount. I would think she feels a kinship with the author of The Decoration of Houses.

Rachel Gibson [mailto:rgibson7995@charter.net]
Sent: Monday, June 02, 2008 12:29 PM

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

May 13 Important Update

The major creditors of The Mount have agreed to grant a six-month extension (until October 31) of the foreclosure deadline, allowing us to fully plan for the 2008 summer season. "The agreement of Berkshire Bank and our other major creditors to grant the six-month extension represents a significant milestone in our determined fight to resolve our problems and establish The Mount on responsible financial footings going forward. This extension allows us to capitalize on the Berkshires' peak tourist months to generate much needed operating revenues while at the same time provided a realistic time frame to achieve our $3 million fundraising goal....We have a considerable way to go and do not underestimate the enormity of the challenge." (Mount Trustee, Gordon Travers).
We indeed continue to be grateful for the interest and support shown for The Mount and look forward to an exciting and highly successful season!

The Staff and Volunteers at The Mount

Monday, May 12, 2008

Opening Weekend Update

Happy Mother's Day! We had an excellent opening weekend, with nearly 200 visitors on Sunday alone. The weather on Sunday was spectacular, as were the tulips and jonquils in the garden and periwinkle along the driveway. The interest shown in keeping Edith Wharton's legacy alive and well was heartening. We had quite a few visitors from our neighbors to the west; the Upper Hudson Library System had recently featured The Age of Innocence in its Albany Reads program. Many thanks to those who came out to support us in person and to those who continue to support us through donations and pledges.
We hope to see you soon!

The Staff and Volunteers at The Mount

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Keeping Edith Wharton's World Alive

I am distressed to hear that The Mount may be in danger of foreclosure.
Edith Wharton Restoration has struggled for years to renovate and
preserve this historic home for the enjoyment of the public. Through keeping
this home open to guests, you keep Edith Wharton's world alive.
I have visited The Mount twice and can see why Edith was drawn to the
tranquillity of the Berkshire woods. It is a perfect writer's retreat,
and for a nature-nurturing mind like Edith's, it provided the perfect
setting for creating many masterpieces.
I hope you will accept a donation toward keeping this historic
treasure open. Through your dedication to preserving Edith Wharton's home, you
have preserved her life, legacy, and work. Those of us who value these
appreciate your continued efforts.

Kay Davis
Cultural Studios
Exploring the Past through Multimedia

Sunday, May 4, 2008

From Brook Farm Inn

(posted April 29th)
As the owners of Brook Farm Inn, within walking distance of The Mount, we know very well what a treasure it is. In order to contribute to the fundraising effort, and also to introduce more Berkshires visitors to The Mount, we're offering to buy admission to The Mount for our guests. We'll buy a ticket for any guest who books a 2-night stay between May 9th and June 12th, 2008.
Readers can view our website and our blog - which mentions The Mount as well - at www.brookfarm.com.

Linda and Phil Halpern
Brook Farm Inn
15 Hawthorne Street
Lenox, MA 01240

Long live Edith!

My husband and I made a special trip to Lenox this past fall to visit the Mount, as Edith Wharton has long been one of my favorite authors. It was a gray-skied day in late October, but the brilliant flowers in the garden stood out in bright pinks and purples and yellows. Wharton's spirit was everywhere as we toured the house. We had even read Wharton's "Old New York", four novellas about life in mid-to-late nineteenth century New York, as a husband and wife book club as part of our trip. Edith Wharton is a towering figure in American literature. . . .Long live Edith! The Mount must be saved!

Maria Mangano
Durham, North Carolina

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Deadline Extended

Thanks to your continued support, the deadline has been until extended until May 31 and permission granted to open for the season on May 9, 2008. Initially, we will be open Wed-Sunday, from 10am to 4pm, then after Memorial Day, we will be open seven days a week. Support us by coming to visit us in the beautiful Berkshires!
We extend heartfelt thanks to one and all who called or mailed in contributions and good wishes. Pending approval, processing of the pledges will begin in early May. We will be sending further notification to all who sent in or pledged, along with seasonal information.
We are still a long way from our ultimate goal, so please continue to spread the word and send your support

The Staff and Volunteers at the Mount

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Mount holds a very special connection

The Mount holds a very special connection for us, as we became engaged there four years ago. Arranged in advance by my husband with The Mount's wonderful staff and volunteers, everything from the bottle of champagne chilling in a silver bucket in the Italian garden where he proposed to the beauty of the house and gardens and the warm welcome we received - was perfection.

We can't express how much The Mount meant to us as we began our new life together then, and it continues to hold a special place in our hearts today. We truly hope that it continues to be accessible for the public and play a part in cherished memories to come.

With sincere gratitude,

Chad and Stacey Dunwiddie

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Update from The Mount

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Calls and contributions continue to come in, with a recent gift of $50K in support of the new leadership, and over half of the contributions in recent weeks coming from new donors. So despite the long road still ahead to the goal of $3 million, we hope your continued support and the campaign's momentum will allow us to open as planned for the 2008 season on May 9th.

Please continue to spread the word that we need everyone's help, and if you are planning a trip to the Berkshires this summer, pay us a visit and show us your support in person!

Stay tuned to this blog and the main web site for updates later in the week,

The Staff and Volunteers at The Mount

A neighbor in need

(excerpts from a letter to the editor, orginally printer in the Berkshire Eagle on 4/13)

"The recent headlines about The Mount are a challenge that we cannot ignore. There is a very real chance that this treasure will be lost to the public if significant support does not appear this month. We think that this cause is indeed a worthy one.

In the recent past, the generosity of many donors (giving in both large and small amounts) brought most of the house and the gardens back to life for all to enjoy. But The Mount is not just a pretty house. It represents a crowning achievement of a very creative woman, and is one of the few places to do so. Its importance in this light goes far beyond Berkshire County and even our county's shores.

Edith Wharton connected the Berkshires with the international community partly through her travels and her expertise in home and garden design. But she is, of course, best known for her great contribution to the art of literature. The Mount has continued in this tradition by hosting presentations from the contemporary literary community and through its marvelous encouragement of local student writers. Edith would have been very proud!

Please consider The Mount a good neighbor that needs our support - a neighbor that we don't want to lose. "

Tony and Corinne Cafaro

From a young writer

(posted April 17)

I'm Grace Ettinger, I'm 7 years old and I live in Portland, Oregon. I don't enjoy the idea of taking Edith Wharton's home "The Mount" and not letting the public see what it was like to live in that time. Film-makers and novelists and writers go to The Mount to get inspiration. If you do not let the public see it...well, let's just put it this way, if you don't let the public see it, then the public will forget about Edith Wharton.

(Grace wrote this during writer's workshop in her second grade class today. We discussed The Mount after I told her about the article in the Sunday New York Times -- Grace's Mom)

(Thank you Grace { and Grace's Mom}. We couldn't agree more!)

Ethan Frome

(posted April 16)

I've never been to the Mount but reading Ethan Frome had a profound impact on my life. Good luck with your fundraising efforts.

Monica Burke

Monday, April 14, 2008

Update from the Mount


We had a large number of mail and calls in the last several days, which makes us all hopeful. If anyone had trouble getting through on the phones, we apologize. We will make available the new totals as soon as we can. Please remember no contributions will be processed until we have achieved successful restructuring with our creditors.

With gratitude,
The Staff and Volunteers at the Mount

First visit to the Mount

(message of appreciation sent 4/14)
We first visited "The Mount" about 5 years ago, when the interior was mostly distressed. I had read a few of Edith's books, including the book on interior decoration so I was fascinated by the home and surroundings. Back again last year, we were so happy to see the gardens refurbished and more interior rooms decorated. Just walking up to the house through those tall trees is heavenly! It is a crime to let this house go!

Colette Malik

Visited the house.

(posted 4/14 by a supporter)
Visited the house on a trip (sponsored) through the New York Public Library and was charmed completely. Hope it all works out!!!

Cheryl Ringelheim
Queens Legal

From the Mount

Good morning! Thank you all for your continued responses. On Saturday, April 12th, the New York Times ran a very entertaining Op-Ed piece by Brock Clarke, author of An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England. I won't spoil the piece for you, but if you haven't yet read it, check it out! Sounds like the gauntlet has been thrown by Mr. Clarke. Do New Yorkers wish to "reclaim from Massachusetts the mantle of regional superiority"? Do New Englanders wish to be "thought of as doomed, taciturn mopes"?

Thanks to Mr. Clarke for such a provocative read and the Times for running it. Let us know what you think!

The Mount

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Dream Not Yet Realized

(posted April 10th)
For years it has been my dream to visit The Mount.

When the website came out, I was thrilled to finally see it in photographs. I could visualize my walks through those hallowed halls. Dreaming of the day or two that could be spent wandering through the Edith Wharton's inspiration.

There's a lump in my throat. Now that retreat may be lost. I fear I'll never see it.
To every writer out there, please pledge your support.

Karen Grooms
Poulsbo, Washington

My daughter's wedding

(posted on March 26th)
My daughter, Ivy Vale, was married in the most beautiful wedding ceremony in the garden at the Mount. She made her entry in a horse drawn carriage, with her father at her side with the music from "Gone With the Wind" playing. This was her dream and we were so happy to be able to have it come true at The Mount. The year was 1988, and it took a great deal of "fixing up" to be able to use the mansion and the grounds to full effect. We have wonderful memories, with thanks to Edith Wharton.
Nancy Vale, Stockbridge, MA and New York City.

Our book group

(posted by a supporter on March 25th)
Our book group (an eclectic, smart, fun-loving bunch of middle-aged women from Stanfordville, Wassaic, Pine Plains, Clinton Corners and Red Hook, New York) decided in February to read Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence and to visit The Mount as part of our May book club meeting. While listening to NPR one morning, I heard the story about the financial problems there and emailed our group to ask if anyone would be interested in pledging to help save The Mount. We were all excited about the prospect of reading this classic literature and being able to take a field trip to visit and enjoy the beautiful house and gardens as part of our Edith Wharton experience. How sad to finally "discover" Edith Wharton, practically in our backyards, and then suddenly lose out and not be able to visit this literary treasure.
Today I made a pledge on behalf of our book group. We hopeful that the necessary support will come through and pleased we can help in our small way. We look forward to visiting in May!

Debra Skiver Cardillo
Where Great Children's Books Play Nicely

Friday, April 11, 2008

Greetings from The Mount!

Apologies for the temporary silence from the Mount. We are indeed alive and well and have been working hard to keep up with the steady stream of contributions and suggestions that have come to us from near and far. We are fast approaching the $650,000 mark in contributions from over 1,000 friends and supporters and hope everyone will keep spreading the word.
The great news is that the staff and volunteers are actively planning for a May 9th opening. Mark it on your calendars!

We will post details on hours, volunteer opportunities and events planned as soon as we able. We have a tentative line up for the popular lecture series waiting in the wings as well.

For those of you in the New York or Boston area, Hermione Lee is appearing in conjunction with the paperback release of her biography of Edith Wharton at the 92nd Street Y this Sunday, April 13( http://www.92y.org/ ) and at Brookline Booksmiths (http://www.brooklinebooksmith.com/) on April 16. Professor Lee has been very supportive of the Mount and we appreciate her continued help in spreading the word.

While we are thrilled to get moving with real plans for a 2008 season, we fully realize that we still face an April 24th deadline. We hope the more momentum the campaign gains, the greater the chances are we can open for the season. We continue to count on your support and generosity.

Thank you,
The Staff and Volunteers at the Mount

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

"So palpably present ..."

As the biographer of Katherine Pease Routledge, who was an intrepid Edwardian explorer, a British contemporary of Edith Wharton, and my scientific predecessor on Easter Island, I was invited to speak at The Mount. My presentation there dealt with Routledge's life and achievements, and the extraordinary setting provided by The Mount was a vivid inspiration.

Edith Wharton's love of The Mount, so palpably present in her beautifully restored home and gardens, was paralleled in the warm attachment Routledge had to Woodside, her family seat in Yorkshire. Yet, both women had ranged intellectually and spiritually far from their privileged families to create independent and lasting artistic and scientific legacies.

The Mount, and other such fascinating real places, whether humble or great, anchor us to the real world and are vital to the preservation and recall of cultural memory.

- Jo Anne Van Tilburg, Ph.D.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sharing The Mount with Each New Generation

From a supporter in Georgia:

In 2004, I received my Master of Arts degree in English Literature. I wrote my thesis on Edith Wharton's fabulous novel The House of Mirth. The following year, my husband and I traveled from our home in Georgia to Massachusetts to tour the area and see The Mount because of my love for Edith Wharton. I truly fell in the love with the beauty and history of the house and gardens! Since then, we have visited two more times and have found something new upon each visit.

I am deeply saddened by the news of the impending foreclosure on this beautiful property and hope it can be saved through the efforts of Edith Wharton's supporters and fans. I had a baby girl this past year and was looking forward to sharing The Mount with her one day. I hope that with the help of everyone, this can still happen!

A young Edith Wharton

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Letter from Eleanor Dwight

Eleanor Dwight is the author of Edith Wharton: An Extraordinary Life. Below is an excerpt from her Letter to the Editor published in the New York Times on February 26, 2008:

As an Edith Wharton biographer, I know that intimacy with [The Mount] is a way not only into Edith Wharton’s fascinating life but also the Gilded Age milieu: it is an authentic mansion in the Berkshire area fully restored for the public to visit.

Its carefully replanted gardens alone, which she created with her excellent eye and the profits from her novel writing, evoke that vanished world she recorded in her fiction.

Visits to writers’ houses are not always that rewarding. But a visit to the Mount is different and has something to offer to a wide range of interests. It offers an understanding of Wharton’s ideas on decorating and architecture and the way she lived in the world.

The location today for lectures on women’s achievements, the art of decorating, on architecture and writing, the Mount is the perfect place for a research center for American cultural and literary history. The accomplished scholar, the aspiring writer, the high school student, the curious tourist cannot help but come away knowing more about our past and specifically the past of this unusual woman.

Monday, March 17, 2008

A Gorgeous Restoration

From a supporter in Nebraska:

I attended the Edith Wharton Society conference at The Mount in 1997, its one hundred year anniversary. Even though the restoration had not been done and the house was shrouded in scaffolding, the spirit of Edith Wharton was palpable and magical. This is the place where she wrote The House of Mirth and entertained luminaries such as Henry James. Everything was intact despite the deterioration and you could see the outline of what now is reality -- a gorgeous restoration, including the gardens and Wharton's library back where it belongs.

A short walk away, Lenox provides more Wharton milestone moments, such as the setting for Ethan Frome, especially the hill on which he and Mattie Silver embark on their tragic sled ride. The Lenox Library contains Wharton notes to the young woman who inspired Mattie's character as she was injured badly on the real sled ride at the heart of the novel. There is much more than this in Lenox and at The Mount, bringing one of the greatest American writers to life for contemporary readers. We need to save this treasured literary and historical site.

Deadline Extended to April 24!

Thanks to a $30,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, we've received a one month extension for the Save The Mount campaign. Talk about a shot in the arm! This additional time will be crucial in helping us meet our fundraising goal.

Please check this space for updates!

Friday, March 14, 2008

95 Pledges in One Day!

Dear Supporters,

Yesterday was a true red letter day for the Save The Mount campaign. We received a total of 95 pledges, which was our highest one-day count so far!

Every day we welcome new friends, new admirers of Edith Wharton, new Mount enthusiasts from all across the country. And much encouragement is also coming from abroad! We've received pledges from Ireland, England, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and Canada.

Thanks to all for your ongoing support!

Yours gratefully,
The Mount Staff and Volunteers

Such an Influence, Such a Site of Memory

A supporter in Arkansas writes:

In 1993 I was a newly married (just a few weeks!) young woman visiting The Mount with my husband and mother before my husband and I set off to begin our new lives as Ph.D. literature students in Louisiana. Even then, before many of the renovations had been undertaken, I was captivated by the exquisite "bones" of the Mount, by the information I learned on the tour about interior design and Wharton's life. I loved the symmetry, the "wedding cake" moldings, the efforts to replicate paint colors to the original -- I feel sure that tour and the time in my life when it occurred set me off on a lifelong love of good interior design, of devouring shelter magazines like House Beautiful and Home and Garden, appreciating all that is simple and beautiful. I also set off on a love of Wharton's work, writing many essays about The House of Mirth, The Decoration of Houses, and The Age of Innocence (which, as a film, is also a visual feast of which Wharton certainly would have approved) and enjoying many of her biographies.

Last summer, I visited the Mount a second time, on a "girlfriends getaway" in the Berkshires in which several old college friends and I celebrated our fortieth birthdays. Imagine my delight at the renovation, in finding The Mount had in some ways become a "designer house" where I could actually see, in person, a room designed by long-admired icon Charlotte Moss. I could hardly believe my eyes. But that was not all! Next, I discovered I could actually see Wharton's library reconstituted -- an immensely fascinating prospect to this writer -- to see the very volumes that had inspired a truly great writer! Finally I was able to visit an exhibit based on one of Wharton's stories and then enjoy a truly special lunch with my girlfriends on the terrace, sharing, encouraging, the way old friends do. The Mount has been such an influence for me, such a site of memory, as I'm sure it has been for so many others. It would be a tragedy for it to disappear.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The House of Mirth on NPR

Thought you heard Wharton being discussed on NPR? You were right! Click here to read or listen to Mireille Guiliano on one of her favorite books, The House of Mirth. In this personal essay, as part of NPR's series "You Must Read This," she writes:

In my early 20s, I "met" author Edith Wharton in a literature class while I was living in Paris and attending the Sorbonne. Right away, I felt I had a friend.

You may know Mireille Guiliano from her hit book, French Women Don't Get Fat, or from her many other accomplishments (check out her web site here). Thank you, Mme. Guiliano, for this wonderful essay!

Thanks to DailyCandy!

Many thanks to DailyCandy for generously spreading the word of the Save The Mount campaign through their subscriber list! We're delighted by the number of new friends that The Mount has attracted as a result of this Emergency Campaign. Thanks to all.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

From "Aging Beauty" to "Rejuvenated Knockout"!

A supporter in Brookline, Mass., writes:

As an avid admirer of Edith Wharton and her books, I was thrilled when our daughter attended Miss Hall's School in Pittsfield and we had the chance to visit The Mount. At that time (1985) it was derelict and deserted but still had "good bones". Imagine my joy and surprise when I saw it again in 2006. What had been a lovely but aging beauty was now a totally rejuvenated "knockout"! Along the way, I had also followed the saga of Mrs. Wharton's library and was thrilled when the Edith Wharton Restoration was able to acquire her books. Good luck to you all in your endeavor to keep this remarkable landmark going. It will be a tragedy if it is lost.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Where Wharton's "Two Souls" Came Together

A supporter in Wisconsin writes:

This January I deposited my dissertation and became a Ph.D. The subject of my research and writing is The Mount and Wharton's first book, The Decoration of Houses. In 1995, I visited the marvelous house for the first time. I spoke with the late Scott Marshall, scholar and historian of Wharton's beloved home. I sketched, photographed, wandered the grounds, and took notes rapidly as I listened to the tour guides. I fell in love with the place and sensed the intense connection Wharton had with her home.

Over the next seven years, I poured over Marshall's book The Mount and its floor plans. I read about other "cottages" around Lenox. I learned about the architecture and architects of the time. And of course I read Wharton's books over and over. I am entirely convinced that Wharton's work emerged from her relationship with The Mount. When I visited in 1995, the restoration was just beginning. I have not yet returned to see the glorious results I have followed in the pages of the Restoration newsletter, but my plans are made to visit this summer.

It is not enough to just read Edith Wharton's books, as fine as they are. The true Wharton devotee needs to see how her "two souls" -- homemaker and writer -- came together and freed the reluctant socialite to be an artist.

What a Thrill!

A Supporter in California writes:

I've never had the opportunity to visit The Mount, but I am so in awe of Edith Wharton, and have read such interesting books about her life. I've "traveled" with her and Henry James up many roads to "see" the gardens. I have a lifelong interest in literature and gardens! So I just have to support this movement and plan someday to be able to actually see it. What a thrill that will be for me.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Share Your Story

Dear Friends:

Since announcing our emergency campaign to Save The Mount, there has been a terrific outpouring of support from all across the country and abroad. The Mount is blessed to have such a strong network of friends.

Because of the widespread admiration for The Mount, we are launching this new blog, which will feature personal stories from our supporters about why The Mount is so important. We invite you to send in a brief comment or story about your experience visiting Edith Wharton's home, and why you are supporting the campaign to Save The Mount. Please click here to email us with your comment.

Thank you for your generosity, both in deed and in spirit.

Stephanie Copeland
President and CEO

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Help Save The Mount

Dear Friends:

Please help us save The Mount! This national treasure, located in Lenox, Massachusetts, is the only monument to Edith Wharton in our country. The estate now faces imminent foreclosure, which could result in its being closed to the public forever. The Mount could be sold into private hands as soon as next month.

With the organization's very survival at stake, Edith Wharton Restoration has launched a major fundraising effort to keep The Mount open to the 30,000 visitors who come each summer. The goal is to raise $3 million by March 24. Matching funds have been pledged, but they will be released only if we reach our goal. Please click here to send in your pledge.

If we do not reach our goal, the consequences could not be more serious. Foreclosure proceedings will begin immediately, and this National Historic Landmark, one of very few that are dedicated to women, will be sold. Following ten years and $13 million in restoration, we cannot let this happen.

Your support -- at any level you can afford -- will help us Save The Mount. Thank you for pledging today.

Yours sincerely,

Stephanie Copeland
President and CEO

Please be assured: If we do not reach our goal, pledges will not be called in and contributions will not be processed.

Click here to pledge online. You may also contribute by phone by calling 413-551-5104, or write us at info@edithwharton.org with any questions.

Click here for recent coverage of the Save The Mount campaign in the New York Times.