10 reasons to get married at The Mount

Photo by Sabine Volmer von Falken

Photo by Sabine Volmer von Falken

  1. You and your guests have exclusive use of the gorgeous 49-acre property for the entire evening.
  2. Ross Jolly and Grace Leathrum, our wedding specialists, are hands-on throughout the entire planning process.
  3. We can introduce you to some of the best caterers and wedding photographers in New England.
  4. By renting the property, you’ll be supporting a National Historic Landmark and its public programming.
  5. You also have access to The Mount’s historic (1902) Stables for rehearsal dinners and after-parties.
  6. You can bring your dog. Edith would be happy to have him.
  7. There will be a docent on site during your wedding to give you and your guests a tour of the home and exhibits.
  8. Whether you’re under the stonework pergola, next to the French flower garden, or lounging on a chaise in Edith Wharton’s boudoir, there are no shortage of beautiful photo opportunities.
  9. The Mount bookstore can provide you with something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.
  10. We have three acres of formal gardens with exquisite, brightly colored flowers for use as your wedding backdrop.

We’re booking now for the 2015 season, but the weekends are going fast. To discuss your wedding possibilities, email or call Ross Jolly now at 413-551-5120.

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Winter blues, welcomed

The winter blues have captured the imaginations of at least two curators in New England in the last year, inviting a fresh look at some of the region’s museum artifacts. Last February, The Museum of Fine Art in Boston opened New Blue and White, an exploration of cobalt pigment in art in art and fashion.  And this winter, the Beineke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University has used the same vibrant hue as inspiration for its new exhibition Blue: Color and Concept, currently open and running through April 19. Curator Nancy Kuhl has used the cultural history of the color blue in 19th and 20th-century arts and letters as a lens to explore the library’s vast collections.

We at The Mount are particularly excited about the Beineke’s dynamic approach to their collection because Edith Wharton’s 1915 driving permit is featured alongside amusement park blueprints, Langston Hughes’ blue enamel cigarette case, and entomological butterfly illustrations. In addition to its many blue historic and literary objects, the Beineke holds a significant collection of Wharton’s papers and manuscripts such as Wharton’s passport, driver’s license, and personal photographs. The exhibit might also have included a letter written on Wharton’s preferred pale blue stationary or a Parisian petit bleu with which she maintained lifelong relationships spanning the globe. Just as with art and rare manuscripts, blue might also be a useful lens through which to view Edith Wharton.

(Our thanks to Tweetspeak Poetry and author Jennie Fields for two of the above images.)



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Wharton’s “Other” New York

This post is contributed by Linda Selman, whose staged reading of Edith Wharton’s Bunner Sisters is currently running as part of the Metropolitan Playhouse’s Gilded Age Festival in New York City.

Bunner_Sisters_coverEven Wharton devotees might be unfamiliar with Bunner Sisters, an early story that strays from Wharton’s typical moneyed setting. Written in 1891 but not published until 1916, Bunner Sisters is one of Wharton’s first New York stories and shows a concern for the lives of working-class women. In the story, Wharton follows the lives of unmarried shopkeepers Ann Eliza and Evelina Bunner, who eke out a living selling handicrafts to the wealthy residents of Stuyvesant Square. Together, Ann Eliza and Evelina face marriages of necessity, dashed hopes, and economic pressures.

Although far from the world of May Welland or Undine Spragg, Wharton’s observations about the false choices and vulnerability inherent in women’s lives are just as astute. Social class, she observes, doesn’t govern women’s prospects so much as gender.

While adapting the novella for the stage, I inadvertently uncovered a likely inspiration for Wharton’s Bunner Sisters. Although little-known today, writer and editor Henry Cuyler Bunner (1855-1896) led a movement that changed the face of politics, art, and literature in America. Bunner was the “literary light” of his era and the first to bring to the forefront the radical concept of “New York as a Field for Fiction.” His works focused on the drama and the hopes of the poor, immigrants, and the disenfranchised trying to make a life in the crowded city streets. Bunner Sisters, in title and in thematic content, is Ms. Wharton’s homage to his literary form.

The City of New York proclaimed December 10, 2012 Henry Cuyler Bunner Day in honor of his cultural legacy to New York City. The National Arts Club further celebrated Bunner’s legacy and Edith Wharton’s 150th birthday with a tribute performance of my adaptation of Bunner Sisters.

In honor of Edith Wharton’s 152nd birthday on January 24, it is with great joy that I extend an invitation to all Edith Wharton admirers to attend a brand new staged reading adaptation of Bunner Sisters currently running as a part of Metropolitan Playhouse’s Gilded Age Festival!  Mount members will receive a special $3 discount on tickets.

Linda Selman’s essay, “The Influence of the Bunner Brothers on Edith Wharton’s Bunner Sisters” won honorable mention in the Edith Wharton 2006 Essay Prize and was published in the Edith Wharton Review. Her book, The Inadvertent Researcher: A New York Story chronicles that scholarly adventure in words and pictures. 

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House Beautiful Nov. 2013

House_BeautifulHouse Beautiful 

November 2013

    “Wallpaper Historic Patterns” 

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Writing… and listening

Kate Abbott talking with Suketu Mehta during WordFest at The Mount

Kate Abbott (far left) talking with Suketu Mehta during WordFest at The Mount

We are always delighted when Kate Abbott, the editor of Berkshires Week and a terrifically talented writer, turns her attention to Edith Wharton and The Mount. Over the years, Kate has written thoughtful, insightful pieces about poet Mark Strand, poet Kevin Young, and WordFest at The Mount, among many other subjects. Recognizing her passion for literature and learning, we invited her to The Mount in 2012 to address young writers on the art and craft of writing as a journalist. Here’s what she wrote on the Berkshires Week blog about that experience, and the text of the talk about writing–and listening–she shared with her young audience. Take a look when you can. We promise: it’s worth the read!


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A week-long birthday bash for Edith

First and foremost: happy new year, everyone! We hope you had a lovely holiday season.

Edith with birthday cake 520wNow it’s January, and we’re rolling up our sleeves as we prepare for the busy months ahead, which include some exciting off-season programs. What better way to celebrate Edith Wharton’s 152 birthday week than by hosting three special events that place her squarely in current-day context? We hope you can join us for one or all of the following

From The House of Mirth to the House of Crawley… Downton Abbey Hits The Mount!

Saturday, January 18, 3PM, $10 general and free for Mount members: In the heart of Downton Abbey‘s fourth season on PBS, join Vanity Fair editor/writer David Kamp for a lively, lighthearted talk about his experiences with Julian Fellowes and how Fellowes’ work is informed by Wharton’s novels.

Society, Scandal, and Double Standards: A Reading and Discussion of New Year’s Day with Francesca Segal

Thursday, January 23, 6PM, $5 general and free for Mount members: Acclaimed author Francesca Segal will guest star in a very special winter reading on January 23rd.  Segal, author of The Innocents, a novel inspired by Wharton’s The Age of Innocence, will read from New Year’s Day (the Seventies) in the Drawing Room on the eve of Wharton’s 152nd birthday.

Fifty Shades of Lily: Wharton, Art, and Popular Culture

Saturday, January 25, 3PM, $10 general and free for Mount members: The Mount will welcome Wharton scholar Dr. Emily Orlando, who will discuss the secret to Wharton’s enduring popularity, making connections to contemporary culture, art, and even Lady Gaga. Considering Lily Bart’s tableau vivant in The House of Mirth as a turning point in the writer’s work, Dr. Orlando will discuss the ways in which Wharton resonates in our 21st-century world.

We hope to see you at The Mount soon!

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Congratulations to our raffle winners!

Dooney & Bourke Florentine Clayton Satchel

When Lowell and Jan Steinbrenner of Pittsburgh, PA (and summer residents of Chatham, NY) renewed their Mount membership at the Sponsor level, they expected free admission to many programs, four guest passes, and a private lunch with Executive Director Susan Wissler– but they didn’t know they’d get a brand new Dooney & Bourke handbag, too! The Steinbrenners were the winners of The Mount’s fall raffle, featuring as its prize the Dooney & Bourke Florentine Clayton Satchel (retail value: $428).

The satchel was donated to The Mount by Dooney & Bourke, which chose Edith Wharton’s historic property for the location of a recent photo shoot.

Dooney & Bourke photo shoot.jpg

On location at the Dooney & Bourke photo shoot

Thank you, Dooney & Bourke– and thank you, Steinbrenners! Stay tuned to the website for details about our next membership raffle.


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The Mount will close today at 1 pm

Due to the impending snowstorm and in the interest visitor safety, The Mount will close today at 1 pm. 

Thank you for your understanding. Drive carefully, and happy holidays to everyone!

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Jane Austen at The Mount

Alison&AleeThe Mount was abuzz with activity on Saturday afternoon! It started with the well-attended holiday open house and “Backstairs” tours in the early afternoon, and ended with a fantastically successful (sold out) tea hosted by Alison Larkin to celebrate the release of the new Pride and Prejudice audio book, which she deftly narrated to commemorate the novel’s 200th anniversary. About 150 people showed up to enjoy tea, treats, and tantalizing tidbits of Jane Austen’s revered novel, as rendered by Alison—or, rather, Jane Austen herself—in period dress.

Alison/Jane presented Jane Austen hand puppets to the evening’s trivia winners and, accompanied by Elizabeth Bennett, led the crowd in a rousing rendition of Lavender Blue.

Gingersnaps and tea sandwiches went like proverbial hot cakes, and those who purchased the audiobook enjoyed a one-of-a-kind photo-op with Jane Austen’s 21st-century channeler.

(Thanks to BMA Audio for the photo.)

Be sure to join us at our next event in The Mount’s Drawing Room, when we welcome Vanity Fair contributing editor David Kamp on Saturday, January 18. Mr. Kamp will discuss the connections between Edith Wharton and Julian Fellowes, creator of the esteemed program Downton Abbey.

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New “Backstairs” tour premieres at The Mount!

Alfred White, the Whartons' longtime butler

Alfred White, the Whartons’ longtime butler

Edith and Teddy Wharton weren’t the only people who lived at The Mount from 1902-1911. At any given time when the Whartons were in residence, 15-20 servants staffed the house and property–all of them with unique circumstances and stories.

We’re eager to tell those stories, which is why we just launched a new “Backstairs” tour that reveals details about the lives of servants who lived and worked at The Mount a century ago.  On Saturday, we welcomed about 35 people on each of two one-hour tours. Visitors seemed quite engaged, and we were very pleased with how everything went. (If you took a tour, we welcome your comments!) Derek Gentile wrote about the tour in today’s Berkshire Eagle.

And, if you missed the tours last weekend, here’s good news: we’re offering four more “Backstairs” tours this month. Make plans now to join us on at 12 pm or 2 pm this Saturday, December 7, or at 12 pm or 2 pm on Saturday, December 14. The main house will be open on those days from 11 am to 3 pm, offering a warm winter haven, festive holiday cheer, and intriguing Gilded Age history!

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