Like the mansion, The Mount’s large Georgian Revival stable was designed by the Newport-based architectural firm of Hoppin & Koen, and was built in 1902 on the property of Edith and Teddy Wharton. Its original purpose was, of course, to house the Whartons’ horses and carriages. But before too long, it was transformed into a garage for Edith’s motorcars. (In July 1904, Edith and Teddy purchased their first motorcar: a new Pope-Hartfort touring car.) Until the Whartons moved from The Mount in 1911, the second story of the stable served as living quarters for male servants, primarily the drivers, stable hands, and gardeners.
The stable remained an attractive feature for later prospective owners of The Mount. Albert Shattuck, who with his wife Mary bought The Mount in 1911, was an enthusiastic automobile collector. He determined the stable could store as many as ten cars at one time. The subsequent owners, Carr and Louise Van Anda, also used the stables as a garage and for storage.
In 1943, the mistress of the neighboring Foxhollow School for girls approached the widower Carr Van Anda. The school’s stable had burned down, and because horseback riding was a valued school activity, Foxhollow was particularly interested in The Mount’s stable. Foxhollow purchased the entire estate, converting the mansion into dormitory, study, and classroom space, and restoring the stable to its original use.
In 1978, after a six-year vacancy, The Mount was rented to the theatre group Shakespeare & Company. Shakespeare & Company used the stable for rehearsals, performances, and storage. In 1980, the property was acquired by Edith Wharton Restoration, Inc.
Because the historic structure is in need of major repair, its use is now limited. Today, part of the stable is used seasonally an auditorium for public events. But the stable holds terrific promise as a multi-purpose facility, including a visitors’ center as well as programming and event space. It’s now The Mount’s “diamond in the rough,” but a carefully planned renovation would turn the stable into a sparkling gem.
In fact, the restoration work has already begun. A grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development allowed The Mount in October 2010 to begin repairs on the stable (and nearby gatehouse) roof. Phase 1 of the work includes the restoration of the cupola, the chimney, and the flat roof as well as structural renovations. Phase 2 work will focus on the flashing and shingle work as well as on detail work around the eaves.
The stable has its own designation, separate from that of the mansion, on the National Register of Historic Places. It is critical that The Mount retain specially qualified architects, contractors and craftsmen. Solomon + Bauer of Watertown, Mass. is serving as the architect for the roof renovation, and Allegrone Construction of Pittsfield, Mass. is on board as the general contractor.
The Mount is hoping to move forward with a planning study to determine the best uses for the stable. The planning goal is twofold: (1) to determine a specific approach to the renovation that would preserve and showcase the architectural and historic integrity of the building and (2) to identify from a business standpoint the potential uses that would help to cover renovation costs by producing the greatest revenue for The Mount.
How You Can Help
In the meantime, we are looking to our supporters, friends, and visitors for help as we collect funds for this significant project. The Mount is seeking support for this project from visitors, friends, and generous donors. Please make a donation today in support of this important initiative.
After all, it could lead to a very stable future for The Mount.