Lenox Academy, Lenox, Mass

The Lenox Academy building on Main Street in Lenox, sometime around the 1800s. Image courtesy of the Lenox Library Association.

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The building in 2015:

Lenox Academy was established in 1803 as a private school, and this building was built around that time. The school closed in 1866, and the building was used as the town’s public high school from 1869 to 1879, and again from 1886 to 1908. In between, the building was renovated and moved to a new foundation in 1879. The first photo appears to have been taken sometime after this move, probably in the 1880s or 1890s. The last school to use this building was the private Trinity School, which was here from 1911 until the 1920s. After that, it was vacant until 1947, when it was sold to the town of Lenox to protect it from demolition. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982, and it is now the home of the the Lenox Historical Society and the Lenox Historical Commission.

Spring Lawn, Lenox, Mass

The Spring Lawn estate on Kemble Street in Lenox, around 1910-1920. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The building in 2015:

Spring Lawn was one of many summer “cottages” built in the Berkshires in the late 1800s and early 1900s, when towns like Lenox were popular resorts for the wealthy during the Gilded Age. This mansion was built in 1904, replacing The Hive, which had been the home of Charles and Elizabeth Sedgwick and the site of Elizabeth’s prestigious school for girls. Her students included Ellen Emerson, the daughter of Ralph Waldo Emerson; Mary Abigal Fillmore, the daughter of president Millard Fillmore; and Jennie Jerome, the mother of Winston Churchill.

The school closed after Elizabeth Sedgwick’s death in 1864, and the property changed hands several times before being purchased by New York businessman John E. Alexandre, who demolished the old house and built Spring Lawn, as seen here. It was one of the first buildings designed by noted architect Guy Lowell, who later went on to design the New York State Supreme Court Building, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Charles River Dam in Boston.

Alexandre didn’t have much time to enjoy his new house, though. He died here in 1910, and it was sold to another prominent New York City resident, Mrs. Arthur F. Schermerhorn, who renamed it “Schermeer.” The house was later owned by the Lenox School for Boys and Bible Speaks College, and it has since gone through a number of other owners. As of the 2015 photo, the house is vacant, but in 2013 the owners announced a plan to restore the historic home as part of a proposed 14-building resort on the property.

Trinity Episcopal Church, Lenox, Mass

The Trinity Episcopal Church in Lenox, as seen from the Walker Street side of the building around 1910-1920. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The church in 2015:

When this church was completed in 1888, the town of Lenox was the summer home for many wealthy families in the northeast, who built massive estates known as Berkshire Cottages. Many of these summer residents provided the funding to build this church, at the corner of Kemble and Walker Streets, just to the southeast of the center of town. It was designed by Charles Follen McKim, the noted architect from the firm McKim, Mead & White. Just a few years earlier, McKim had designed St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in nearby Stockbridge, and both churches reflect the popular Romanesque style of the late 1800s.

This church replaced the town’s original Episcopalian church, which was built in 1818 on Church Street. It is still standing today, although it was converted into apartments and a store after the new building was completed. Construction on this church began in 1885, with former president Chester Alan Arthur attending the laying of the cornerstone. Arthur died the following year, so he never lived to see its completion, but a Tiffany stained glass window was added in memory of him in 1888.

The building to the far left is the parish house, which was built separately in 1896, as a gift from John E. Parsons, a New York lawyer who spent his summers at his “Stoneover” estate in Lenox. Three years later, the church itself was expanded to include a choir room and sacristy, but since the first photo was taken there have not been many changes. In 1996, the church was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Children’s Chimes Tower, Stockbridge, Mass

The Children’s Chimes Tower in front of the First Congregational Church in Stockbridge, around 1905-1915. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The tower in 2015:

This bell tower was built on the site of the original church in Stockbridge, which stood here from 1739 until 1785. The church was established by John Sergeant, a missionary who moved here to convert the Mahican people to Christianity. He served here until his death in 1749, and he was replaced by Jonathan Edwards, the former Northampton pastor and prominent theologian who helped influence the First Great Awakening. Edwards was here until 1758, when he became the president of the College of New Jersey, now known as Princeton University.

The present church building, visible in the distance to the left in both photos, was built in 1824, during the pastorate of David Dudley Field, who served here from 1819 to 1837. He and his wife Submit raised their nine children here, four of whom became prominent figures in American history. Their oldest, David Dudley Field II, was a lawyer and law reformer who briefly served in the House of Representatives 1877.  Stephen Johnson Field was also a lawyer, and he served on the US Supreme Court from 1863 to 1897 for what was at the time a record 34 years. Cyrus West Field chose business over law, and he also enjoyed success; in 1858, he and a group of other investors established the first transatlantic telegraph cable. Henry Martyn Field, the youngest of the nine siblings, followed in his father’s footsteps and became a pastor, but he was also a successful writer, publishing a number of travel books in the second half of the 19th century.

The Children’s Chimes bell tower in front of the church was built in 1878 by David Dudley Field II, in honor of his grandchildren, with the intention that, “It will be a memorial of those who are enshrined in my heart, while the ringing of the chimes at sunset I trust will give pleasure to all whose good fortune is to live in this peaceful valley.” Today, almost 140 years later, it is still rung, according to his wishes, every evening at 5:30 between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Heaton Hall, Stockbridge, Mass

The view of Heaton Hall from near the corner of Prospect Hill Road and Pine Street in Stockbridge, around 1910-1920. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The scene in 2015:

At the turn of the 20th century, the Berkshire towns of Lenox and Stockbridge were popular resort towns. Many wealthy families built massive summer homes here, while others stayed at the area’s luxury hotels, including Heaton Hall, an 85-room hotel built in 1904 on this hill above the center of Stockbridge. Its owner, Allen T. Treadway, was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, and he later served as the president of the Massachusetts Senate from 1909 to 1911. In 1913, he was elected to Congress, where he represented the state’s 1st congressional district until his retirement in 1945. He was previously featured in this post, where he is seen visiting Calvin Coolidge at his home in Vermont.

After Congressman Treadway’s death in 1947, ownership of the hotel went to his son, Heaton, who sold the property in 1955. Unlike many other wood hotels of its era, Heaton Hall never burned down, but it closed in 1969 and was demolished three years later. In 1976, the property was sold to the Stockbridge Housing Authority, who built Heaton Court, an apartment complex for low-income seniors and those with disabilities. Today, aside from the name of the apartment complex, the only reminder of the hotel that once stood here is a “Heaton Hall” sign at the corner of Prospect Hill Road and Pine Street, just behind where these photos were taken.

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Stockbridge, Mass

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, at the corner of Main and Pine Streets in Stockbridge, around 1905-1915. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The church in 2015:

Not much has changed for this historic church in downtown Stockbridge. It was built in 1884 in memory of Susan Ridley Sedgwick Butler, a native of Stockbridge. After her death, her husband Charles E. Butler provided the funds to build the church, and hired architect Charles Follen McKim to design it. It was McKim’s first church, and it reflects the style of Henry Hobson Richardson, who he had once worked for in the early 1870s. Several years after this church, he designed one of his most significant works, the Boston Public Library’s McKim Building at Copley Square. Today, the church is still an active congregation, and it is part of the Main Street Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.