PRELIMINARY NOTE – Most important event of the year at the end of this post.
I had been pining to see The Red Lion Inn decked out in its Christmas fashions, but following a busy and packed month, as time progressed did not feel like another excursion alone. I had asked a friend to join me, and on the 26th received an email, “If you are still up for RLI, I am free Thursday this week.” A plan was developed to first visit Ventfort Hall in Lenox, tour around Stockbridge, and then immerse in the splendor of the RLI concluding with dinner. Thursday, 11:25 AM, on my way to pick her up my “check engine light came on.” Having had strange noises that mechanics have not been able to find I thought “great now we can find the problem,” but that put a damper on a trip. “Take your car home, and I will drive,” she said – and a great outing was saved.
We arrived in Lenox with plenty of time to explore Ventfort Hall before the 2PM tour.
One of the 80 “summer cottages” built in Lenox, Massachusetts, (yes, Tanglewood), the area was favored for summer escapes and social times, just as others would build their summer homes in Newport, RI, and other famous resorts. About 30 of these massive “cottages” remain in Lenox, with only the Ventfort now open to the public. Fortunately saved 20 years ago, we saw pictures of snow in the main foyer, and missing floor and ceiling in the dining room. Ventfort was built by the sister of J. P. Morgan.
Opulence of the Gilded Age abounded, as did the holiday decorations. Here is the main entrance from the second floor. The curved area with the trees is where a band would play for parties and dances on the open first floor area below.
and some holiday decorations around the first floor (remember with my galleries you can click to enlarge the images).
everywhere you looked there were festive and different holiday touches.
and some images upstairs – throw me back to Victorian times whenever you wish
in a former upstairs bedroom there is a table set with a rotating display of period tableware and place settings. I could not wrangle an invitation – will keep trying.
as much damage, vandalism and deterioration Ventfort sustained, miraculously the original stained glass windows had been covered over and all remained intact. I could not resist this small frost covered one.
on my first visit maybe seven years ago my tour guide (I was the only visitor) took me into some unrestored areas. Much is still unrestored, and now a glass panel is in a second floor hallway doorway so you can see what the association is still “up-against.”
and, then it was south a tad on my favorite US Route 7, to park on Main Street across from:
no longer is all the porch furniture put away in the winter. It is easier, however, at this time of year to get a prime seat. Here is a view of the porch from the Inn’s Pink Kitty gift shop.
In the gift shop I heard the clerk say that Country Curtains was closing. With its flagship location in the Inn, Country Curtains was started 61 years ago by the Fitzpatricks who in 1969 bought the Inn. I fondly remember visiting with Senator and Mrs. Jack Fitzpatrick in the Dining Room on many occasions. But as another victim of on-line competition, 360 people are losing their jobs at the headquarters in Lee, 19 retail outlets (in 12 states) and its operations in Housatonic, Mass. So, sad – you know I do not like change.
Touring the lobby, here are some (not so great) images of the decorations.
One of the distinctive holiday displays in the dining room has always been (although rebuilt from time to time) this candy model of The Red Lion Inn on this buffet.
and, a close up.
a relaxing and enjoyable and amazing dinner followed – but sadly visits do conclude, and it was time to head back north. BUT — I will return, and soon — BUT – this post is not over, continue below.
30 DECEMBER — I Married Joanie …..
Was I ever flattered in January when Joanie called and said, “Dan and I would like to come over to talk to you.” In my kitchen they said, “would you marry us on December 30th?” WOW, what an honor. I applied to become a Justice of the Peace in New Hampshire (my Commission Expires March 22, 2022). And, I have had so much fun for 11 months saying, “I am marrying Joanie in December,” and receiving puzzled looks until I explained. And, yesterday was the day for a festive and perfect outdoor wedding.
You can always tell “true love” in peoples eyes and actions. They assembled and wrote their vows from several sources, and incorporated the Scottish “hand-fasting” ceremony.
Bringing tears to my eyes each time I recite one paragraph, I must share it with you:
Life is given to each of us as individuals, yet we must learn to live together. Love is given to us by our families. We learn to love by being loved. Learning to love and live together is one of life’s greatest challenges, and is the shared goal of married life.
May God Bless Joanie and Daniel, and all of you who may stumble across this post.
Congrats to them and a very happy & peaceful New Year to you!
Excellent as always.Thank you for so many entertaining trips!
Truly beautiful from start to finish! Love and best wishes to the newly married couple!
Thank you for another interesting and informative trip. What a wonderful ending. Happy New Year to Joanie & Daniel and to you.
Rau, this trip is fabulous. Beautiful table setting and all around festive atmosphere everywhere.
Then a wedding with your honor doing the honors. Congratulations to the lovely couple and they were married on my birthday. Happy New Year Ray and everyone that follows these lovely trips. They are so enjoyable. Good health to all.
Back in the day, St. Christopher was regarded as the patron saint of travelers. But then something happened and the story of him carrying the Christ Child across the river was debunked and he got the boot. Sort of how like Pluto isn’t a planet anymore. Well I hereby canonize Ray Boas, Bookseller as the new patron saint of travelers. I do not believe wanderlust is one of the Seven Deadly Sins.
All kidding aside, Happy New Year Ray! And may moss never grow beneath the wheels of your two classic roadsters.
Great pics, Ray. Question: did you “shun” the Mass “Pike” and take the back roads to Lenox? Have a great 2018!
What an honor to conduct Joanie’s and Daniel’s wedding. I wish them much happiness. And of course I look forward to your next adventure!
Another wonderful essay! Do I have your permission to share this cite with other friends of the oast? So sad to hear about Country Curtains 😦
Really lovely…and all the very best to Joanie and Daniel. ( You may have stumbled upon yet another skill to add to your repertoire of talents, Ray! )
Wow, Ray…or should I say “Your Honor”? Another great post about a lovely trip – albeit not originally planned. Hope your car is all fixed up by now. Wonderful festive pictures. So sad to hear about Country Curtains. Many of the window treatments we have in our house came from there. You certainly ended 2017 on an up note! Here’s to you, Joanie and Daniel and as Marian said “to everyone that follows these lovely trips” – Happy 2018!
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