Berkshire Wedding Tour Part II
We started day two off with a bang! The first venue that we toured was Chesterwood. One of my absolute favorite spots in Stockbridge! Chesterwood was Daniel Chester French's summer home and studio. (For those of you who skipped art history he's the sculptor of the Lincoln Memorial) There is something other-worldly about his studio. It feels as if he's going to walk back in at any moment and half sculpted works are scattered throughout his space. This historic site can accommodate weddings up to 500 guests. The beautiful hydrangea walk, formal Italian gardens, historic buildings and sweeping views of the fields and mountains are beyond words. There is something magical about Chesterwood. It's truly a spectacular spot and one of my favorites on this tour hands down.
Naumkeag was up next. Also set in Stockbridge, the grounds served as a playground for my friends and I who grew up close by. Naumkeag was originally built by the Choate family at the turn of the century and remained in their family as a summer "cottage" for 3 generations. With all the original artwork and furniture, understandably the house is not available for private event rentals but the stunning collection of gardens and grounds are available for smaller gatherings or ceremonies. The views of the mountains amongst the beautiful gardens would make a perfect spot for an intimate wedding ceremony.
We drove about 15 minutes to Tyringham's Santarella which is something out of a fairy tale. A magical, charming "gingerbread" house that can accommodate 85 guests for a seated dinner with a lily pond, sleeping silos with ethereal canopy beds. It's a unique and charming venue!
We were treated to a delicious lunch at Jacob's Pillow Dance in Becket. Set on 220 acres Jacob's Pillow is the longest running dance festival in the country. It's also been recognized as a National Historic Landmark. The outdoor stage can be used as a ceremony location and it overlooks bucolic Berkshire Mountains. It's simply perfect.
Our final stop of the evening was Gedney Farm located in the historic village of New Marlborough. We were treated to a wonderful dinner composed of many local ingredients from the surrounding farms. Gedney Farm also offers a la carte dining during the week and in the wedding off-season hosts a Friday Music Series called Gedney Underground. There are dozens of fabulous local musicians who regularly play there.
Full disclosure, I am completely biased because i was married here several years ago! It's just as I remembered; understated, tasteful and elegant. The property was originally built as a working farm at the turn of the century. Modeled after the great Normandy barns of the 19th century France, the architectural integrity of the barns was retained when they were remodeled and it's easy to imagine that the rolling fields look just as they did 100 years ago. The former cattle barn has been transformed into 16 guest rooms and suites (many with granite fireplaces and soaking tubs). Across the charming courtyard the former horse barn is now the multi-level event space which can accommodate 250 guests for a seated dinner. The ground level of the event space opens up onto a garden where guests can enjoy an al fresco cocktail hour or after dinner drinks and smores.
We finished our tour the following morning with breakfast at Cranwell Resort and Spa in Lenox. Cranwell, a member of the Historic Hotels of America, has an interesting history behind it. Built in the Gilded age at the turn of the century, it's been both private home of Reverend Henry Ward Beecher who's sister Harriet Beecher Stowe penned the anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin. Another owner of Cranwell commissioned Frederick Law Olmsted, the famed landscape architect who created New York's Central Park and Boston's Emerald Necklace, to design the grounds. The property also served as a private boys prep school which Ted Kennedy attended in his youth prior to being purchased and turned into the resort it is today.
Cranwell boasts a 35,000 square foot spa, golf, indoor and outdoor pools and a large fitness facility. There is also a salon, tennis and 114 guest rooms and suites. They can accommodate ceremonies and weddings of up to 180 guests so this is a perfect venue for those who are hosting many out of town guests. So much to do!
I'm so appreciative that I was able to be part of this tour. I'm looking forward to the next Berkshire Wedding that I plan!