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Edith Wharton’s Home: The Mount

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I recently had the pleasure of visiting Edith Wharton’s amazing home – The Mount – located in The Berkshires, Massachusetts. Not only was the house and its grounds gorgeous, but I had the added pleasure of sharing it all with a wonderful group of women who I met on line through Library Thing. The entire weekend we spent in New England together was full of book talk, laughter, great food, and the warmth that comes from spending time with friends. I thought it would be fun to write a post about Edith Wharton and share the photos I shot while visiting her estate. (*All photos are clickable for a larger view)

Although Edith Wharton never had any formal education, she not only was a prolific writer and the first woman to win the prestigous Pulitzer Prize for Literature for her book The Age of Innocence, but she was also an extremely talented designer. Wharton designed The Mount and the gardens surrounding it in the early part of the 20th century, incorporating symmetry and light to create a home unique  in its detail and pleasing to the eye.

themount010001 Front view of the home – Some windows are “false” and there simply to create symmetry.

themountsymmetry10001 Edith Wharton’s sitting roomagain a good example of symmetry and light. There is a large mirror opposite the fireplace which reflects back the light and makes the room look larger.

themount1stfloorhall10001 Entry Way of Main part of the house – Wharton used arches and architectural elements to create an inviting space to welcome guests.

Wharton filled her home with splendid artwork. She used mirrors to create the allusion of space and to bring more light into the rooms.

themountentry020001 Sculpture located in the entry way.

themountsittingroom10001 Artwork in the living room.

 

Wharton entertained guests in her living room where they could enjoy the warmth from a fire while looking out at the gardens.

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The dining room was one of the most light-filled rooms in the home as Wharton believed that light aided digestion.

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Wharton’s library was one of my favorite rooms in the home. Bookcases were set into the walls so that the book spines would blend into the walls, creating their own art feature.

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Each morning, seven days a week, Wharton wrote longhand in her bed until 11:00 AM. Her bedroom was the plainest room in the home as she did not entertain there and it was primarily for sleeping. Views from Wharton’s bedroom and adjacent sitting room were of the gardens and distant hills.

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Wharton and her husband Teddy had no children, but instead relished attention on their little dogs. There is a small pet cematary on the property where Wharton’s dogs are buried, each with their own headstone engraved with the animal’s name.

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In the early part of the 20th century, people used ice boxes to store blocks of ice for the preservation of food. The pond on Wharton’s estate provided ice to the surrounding towns as well as overseas.

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Several million dollars have been invested in restoring The Mount. All of the floors except in one room are original. The cabinetry in the kitchen is original.

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The gardens surrounding The Mount replicate the symmetry found throughout the home, using repeated patterns, colors and materials.

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To read more about The Mount, visit the official website. More information about Edith Wharton and her work may be found here.

21 Comments

  1. May 24, 2009    

    That’s one gorgeous house. Thanks for the photo tour!

  2. May 24, 2009    

    Oo, beautiful – thanks for posting these! I really need to get around to reading some Edith Wharton. The time has come!

  3. May 24, 2009    

    Beautiful pictures! The dining room is absolutely gorgeous (and while I have never heard that light helps with digestion, seeing this room I do not doubt it). I could have spent hours in the library – looking at the titles of all those lovely leather-bound books!

    It sounds like you had a wonderfully, relaxing vacation.

  4. Linda Sheehan Linda Sheehan
    May 24, 2009    

    I need to see this; I only live about 2 hours or less from here. Definitely worth the trip; thanks for the lovely pix.

  5. May 24, 2009    

    What a gorgeous house!

  6. May 24, 2009    

    Memory: You’re welcome! It is even nicer in person!

    Jenny: I need to read more of Wharton’s work. I’ve read The Age of Innocence and Ethan Frome (which I LOVED)…but I have several more of her works on my TBR pile. Seeing her home has motivated me to get reading!

    Molly: I would have loved to browse through the books in her library – but alas, we were not allowed to actually enter that room (it was roped off).

    Linda: You should definitely make the trip – well worth it. We took the guided tour and it was fascinating.

    Kathy: I agree!

  7. May 24, 2009    

    Wonderful post, Wendy. Oh, that library! The next time I visit New England I’ll have to be sure to get to The Mount.

  8. May 24, 2009    

    Lovely photos! We visited last summer, took a tour, and had lunch outside on the patio. The gardens and rooms were all gorgeous…and the gift shop set me back a few dollars, too!

    After visiting The Mount, we continued on to the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield. I was with the whole family and we needed to keep everyone happy. I’m guessing we were the only group that visited both places that day 😉

  9. May 24, 2009    

    What a delightful post! I’m quite envious of your trip to The Mount – it’s absolutely beautiful. And oh, for that library. Be still my heart 🙂

    I did an extensive study of Wharton’s work in college, and would dearly love to visit here.

  10. May 24, 2009    

    Great stuff here, Wendy! Thanks for sharing.

  11. May 24, 2009    

    Wow – thank you for posting all of these photos – no easy task. I so enjoyed seeing Wharton’s home, lucky you getting to visit it!

  12. May 24, 2009    

    Wow, beautiful photos Wendy! Thank you so much for sharing them. If I ever get to New England I will have to visit The Mount! I love Edith Wharton!

  13. May 25, 2009    

    Thanks for sharing these photos and the details of The Mount. How wonderful to share this tour with other booklovers! The house is absolutely gorgeous! I love the library and the details are beautiful. I have not read any of Wharton’s novels and I need to add those to my must read classics list!

  14. May 25, 2009    

    Edith Wharton is one of my favorite authors, so I loved your tour of her home. Thank you!

  15. Kim Kim
    May 26, 2009    

    This is a spectacular post. Thank you for sharing this with us. I wish we had such cool bookish things to visit here in Seattle!
    *smiles*
    Kim

  16. May 27, 2009    

    Oh it’s gorgeous!! Thank you for sharing the beautiful photos, I never realized how symmetry makes everything so pretty!

  17. May 27, 2009    

    Gavin: I know – isn’t that library to die for???

    Joann: Glad to know you were also able to visit this fantastic place … and I know what you mean about the gift shop – I also spent some money there 🙂

    RR: Wharton was such an amazing woman – far ahead of her time. I hope you get to visit her home someday, it is really worth the trip.

    Bekah: you’re welcome!

    Tara: Glad you enjoyed them!

    Teddy: Wharton is one of my favorite classic women writers – I hope you get to visit The Mount someday!

    Bonnie: I’m so glad you enjoyed this post – and I hope you’ll read Wharton one of these days. I think she is one of the more “accessible” women writers from that time period.

    Cathy: You are welcome!

    Kim: Glad you enjoyed the post! I’ve been to Seattle and you have some awesome things there 🙂

    Kristina: I agree – symmetry in design is so pleasing to the eye and Wharton seemed to have a great understanding of that.

  18. June 3, 2009    

    What a treat! I love EW and have read many of her books. Thank you for posting these photos.

  19. June 3, 2009    

    You’re welcome, Les!

  20. January 28, 2010    

    Oh, I LOVE those bookshelves. I want, I want!

  21. January 31, 2010    

    Rebecca: *nods* That was definitely my FAVORITE part of the house!!! Amazing, aren’t they?

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