The Ponds at Foxhollow
The Ponds at Foxhollow Resort, Lenox, Ma., where we stayed for the week. This is located on historic property.
A History of The Ponds at Foxhollow
The Berkshires, with their rolling hills, rivers, streams and lakes, have always been beautiful. The original settlers were the Mahican Indians. The Mahicans were followed by Englishmen from the coastal areas of Massachusetts and Connecticut. In the late 1800's, wealthy industrialists found their way here and built large estates. Families with names like Carnegie, Sloane, Vanderbilt, and Westinghouse would summer in newport then travel to the Berkshires to view the fall foliage. Most of these estates were not built for year round living and were used only in the fall. Many of the "cottages" had over 20 rooms (Shadowbrook had over 100) and were named for their surroundings or family such as Elm Court and Erskine Park.
The property known today as The Ponds at Foxhollow has an interesting history. Through a succession of owners including Mr. and Mrs. George Westinghouse and Mrs. Alfred G. Vanderbilt, the grounds and mansion have evolved into what they are today… a scenic spot in which to get away from it all, relax and enjoy the beauty of the Berkshires.
In 1880, Mr. and Mrs. George Westinghouse purchased 200 acres of wooded land overlooking Laurel Lake. Westinghouse had by this time invented the air brake and introduced alternating current for electric power transmission. He was also the founder of Westinghouse Electric Corporation. In 1893, they built a white victorian house with a red roof and called it Erskine Park. Erskine was Mrs. Westinghouse's maiden name. White crushed marble lined the driveway winding through the woods to the top of the hill. Mrs. Westinghouse wanted everything white; she even wore white much of the time.
The grounds were magnificent, very well manicured, and inventive in their use of the latest technology. The first alternating current lights in America were installed in Erskine Park. Westinghouse built a playhouse for his son complete with a bowling alley and indoor and outdoor pools. This building still exists on the property. The canoe pond with its granite bridges and four islands has become the focal point of what is today The Ponds at Foxhollow.
In 1914, both George and Marguerite Westinghouse died. Their son sold the estate to Mrs. Alfred Vanderbilt in 1919. She tore the house down and built Holmwood, a more elaborate and larger structure of 47 rooms. Oversized rooms, skylights, and lots of natural light made Holmwood a favorite place to visit. The east wing was specially constructed for classical music concerts. In 1936, after two years of the Berkshire Symphonic concerts at the Hanna Estate, Mrs. Vanderbilt sponsored three concerts, this time with the acclaimed Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Serge Koussevitzky on the grounds of Holmwood under a huge tent with 5,000 in attendance. A permanent summer home for the orchestra was established, not very far away at Tanglewood, later that year.
In 1939, Mrs. Vanderbilt sold Holmwood to two ladies who had started a school for girls on a farm in New York State called Foxhollow. Miss Aileen Farrell and Dr. Meigs Fowler changed the name of the estate to Foxhollow School for Girls and ran the school for nearly 40 years. In 1941, they purchased the neighboring estate, The Mount (built by the novelist, Edith Wharton, in 1902), for use as a dormitory.
In 1977, the entire property was sold again and The Foxhollow Inn and Conference Center, The Ponds at Foxhollow and The Lakeside Condominiums were developed. In 1980, The Mount was purchased by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.