13. Bellefontaine Mansion (Canyon Ranch)
Image courtesy Canyon Ranch
Currently one of the two sites of the Canyon Ranch spa and health resort, Bellefontaine Mansion was the beloved home of the businessman and socialite Giraud Foster. Bellefointaine was originally built as the “summer cottage” for Foster and his wife, between the years of 1896 and 1898. Prominent architectural firm Carrere and Hastings did the design, which is said to have been inspired by that of Petit Trianon at Versailles.
Bellefontaine was the epitome of opulence during its heyday, with furnishings prefabricated in Paris and set in place by expert cabinet workers, and immaculate paintings and sculptures that reflected Giraud Foster’s knowledge in art, architecture and literature.
When Giraud Foster’s wife died in 1932 at their winter estate in South Carolina, Foster sold that estate and made Bellefontaine his permanent residence. Foster lived the rest of his long life at Bellefontaine, until he passed away in 1947 at the age of 95. Foster’s death marked the end of an era for socialites who had brought international fame to the Berkshires.
After Foster’s death the estate with all its furniture and land, which was valued for over $500,000 was sold for a mere $80,000. The mansion started to deteriorate and fell into a state of disrepair, until it captured the attention of the health resort, Canyon Ranch, which had been seeking a location in the East Coast. After restoration, the Bellefontaine Mansion opened on October 1, 1989 as a state-of-the-art spa. This year, Canyon Ranch began to sell residences, called “Canyon Ranch Living,” in a new-construction on the property.