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.