What do you think the adventurous women who founded the Lenox Garden Club in 1911 (two years before the Garden Clubs of America was founded) would think of a house tour focused not on Lenox, but on Great Barrington? And, in their wildest dreams, could they have imagined that the tour would include a house owned by someone called a “Real Housewife of New York?”
No matter. All this is actually happening on Saturday, July 15th. The Lenox Garden Club’s 2017 House and Garden Tour will feature five rarely seen properties in the Great Barrington countryside. Included in the tour is Blue Stone Manor, the home of Dorinda Medley from the TV show “The Real Housewives of New York.”
Who doesn’t love to snoop around other people’s houses? The collection of five houses on the tour — open and available for snooping — are stunning. And their gardens are gorgeous. This year, for the first time, tour ticket holders will park their cars at Simon’s Rock College and be driven from house to house on shuttle buses that will change location every ten minutes. Stay as long as you want at any one house, and catch the next shuttle out. Hostesses on the shuttles are prepared to tell the history of this area of Great Barrington, which contains stops on the Underground Railroad and the former Albert Schweitzer Friendship House. Additional hostesses will guide your visit to each location. The tour runs from 10:00am to 4:00pm, and the last shuttle leaves Simon’s Rock at 3:00pm.
The number of tickets is limited to 500 and they are selling fast. Tickets can be bought in advance at www.lenoxgardenclub.net. Tickets for the tour are $60. Tickets for the tour plus lunch at Wyantenuck Country Club are $100. If and when tour tickets are sold out, afternoon tickets will be available for one house only, Dorinda Medley’s home at Blue Stone Manor, at $60.
Even if you know Great Barrington well, odds are you don’t know these five properties, or even know where they are:
- The CLASSICAL Garden. This home and gardens, designed by the owners, sit at the end of a long drive lined with willows. The perfect proportions of house and garden speak to the owners’ interest in classical art, sculpture and ornament. A triumph of imagination and style, this property was featured in Veranda Magazine. We are invited to walk through the entry and gallery to the enclosed garden of clipped hedges, rill, pool and mountain views. The Garden House will be open for viewing after visiting the garden.
- BLUE STONE MANOR, the home of Dorinda Medley, sits on a stunning rise surrounded by the gardens, fields and mountains. A classic “Berkshire Cottage,” built in 1902, it takes its name from the beautiful stone walls with massive blue stone caps constructed by Dorinda’s grandfather who was a local stonemason. This grand house has been turned into a lovely home where each room has been stamped with Dorinda’s unique style. Blue Stone Manor has been featured in Berkshire Living Magazine and on the Fox TV show “Real Housewives of New York.” Several rooms will be open for viewing before we move out to the rose garden, pool terrace, and open vista.
- The MEDITATION Garden. Sited on a foundation from the 1700’s, this house is a recycled gem. Components of the original farmhouse were preserved and used throughout. LEED certified, the house incorporates a number of ecological systems. Majestic trees, beautifully aged walls, and mountain views enhance the perennial and meditation gardens. Stroll up the planted path to the front door, enter into a thoughtful and welcoming home environment, and take in the views from the bluestone terrace.
- MeadowWood. The Green River, part of the Underground Railway, runs through this stunning property designed and built using recycled materials by the owner in 2002. The gardens, pond, pool and sleeping pavilion were added in ensuing years. Featured on the front cover of UK Home & Garden and Berkshire Living Magazine, the property has matured into a beautiful oasis. Local materials, native plants and pollinator friendly habitat have been emphasized. The perennial, pond, pool, cutting, and wetland gardens will be open for the tour.
- The BARN At the end of a long meandering drive planted with maples, sits this unique family home. Several antique barns of great size were combined to create open and welcoming living spaces. The vegetable garden, horses and chickens welcome you. Native stone walks and perennial gardens lead to the front door where we are invited to enter and experience the beauty of the great room, and enjoy the large patio with views towards the Green River.
The philanthropic purposes of this tour are one aspect that would be perfectly recognizable to the 1911 founders of the Lenox Garden Club. Co-chaired by Hilary Deely of Stockbridge and Anne Fredericks of Great Barrington, the 2017 House and Garden Tour is the main source of revenues for the club. Some 95 per cent of the proceeds from the tour will be donated to Berkshire organizations and projects that further the club’s mission of conservation, education, historic preservation and civic beautification. The Lenox Garden Club now has members from Williamstown to Sheffield, and on to Chatham in New York State. It is a member of the National Garden Clubs.
It is the Club’s pattern to disburse its donations in amounts significant enough to make a recognizable impact. In the last few years, the Club has donated more than $400,000 to mission-related organizations. Significant grants have included:
- $100,000 to the Berkshire Botanical Garden to build a new classroom to expand their educational programs;
- $50,000+ to Lilac Park Restoration to replant, restore and maintain the park;
- $40,000+ to Naumkeag for the restoration of gardens;
- $18,000+ to Housatonic River Walk to help establish and maintain the River Walk and to train “greenagers” and other volunteers;
- $3,000 to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy to establish pollination habit planting for butterflies;
- $4,000 to The Mount to restore the overgrown Rock Garden and to repair the French Flower Gardens after storm damage; and
- $3,000 to the Sheffield Peace Garden
Grants have also been awarded to Elm Watch, Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation, Hebert Arboretum at Springside Park, Ventfort Hall, Project Native, Habitat for Humanity, Bidwell House Museum, Chesterwood, Lenox Library Association, Southern Berkshire Youth Association, Berkshire County Historical Society, among others.
The Lenox Garden Club is also proud that its House and Garden Tour brings significant tourist dollars into the local economy. People come from great distances for this tour, especially so this year to see Dorinda Medley’s house, resulting in money going to local hotels, restaurants and shops.