11. Ventfort Hall
Ventfort Hall was among the most expensive mansion Gilded Age Berkshire estates to be built with the cost of $900,000 when erected. The mansion was designed by the prominent architects Rotch & Tilden for George and Sarah Morgan, sister of J.P Morgan, in 1893. Described as one of the most beautiful places in Lenox, the Jacobean-style mansion contains 9 main bedrooms and 10 servant’s bedrooms, 7 bathrooms, and 17 fireplaces, which in total amount to 28,000 square feet of living space. Now on 11.7 acres, Ventfort Hall originally sat in the epicenter of a sprawling 26 acre garden.
After the Morgans’ deaths, the house was rented to Margaret Vanderbilt, whose husband, Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt had died on the Lusitania, for a brief period. After 1945, the mansion traded many hands, during which time it served as a dormitory for Tanglewood music students, a summer hotel, the Michel Fokine Ballet Summer Camp, and community housing for the religious organization The Bible Speaks (now known as Greater Grace World Outreach).
From 1991 to 1997 the mansion sustained severe damage by a nursing home developer which planned to demolish the house. In 1997 the Ventfort Hall Association, a non-profit, local preservation group, was established to repair the mansion. With a five-year loan from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Ventfort Hall Association was able to purchase the house.
The mansion is now home to the Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum and contains exhibits about the approximately 75 homes built in Lenox in the late 19th century, when the village was a popular location in the Gilded Age. It was a prominent film location in the Michael Caine film, The Cider House Rules.