By Vikki Moran, The Grateful Traveler
Olana in Columbia County is the home that Hudson River School artist Frederic Edwin Church shared with his family. The 250-acre historic estate features a Persian-inspired mansion filled with original sketches, studies and paintings by Church. The estate is a feast for the eyes that draws us into the many parts of the world he traveled. The vistas from the home and property are breathtaking anytime of the year, but now they are spectacular. This is what the family of Frederick Church enjoyed each and every day with the famous artist. Of special interest are the hiking trails and the ponds to stroll around.
Drive the Berkshires and spend a few hours (not including the trip to get from the Capital Region) viewing the northern highlights of this magical neighboring state. Stop by The Red Lion Inn for a warm cider on their porch.
Mount Greylock in Lanesboro, MA has unparalleled views. On a clear day, the 3,491-foot summit of Mount Greylock offers panoramic views as far as 90 miles in all directions. The drive is stunning, the hiking is vigorous and all the while, the views have you mesmerized. On top of Mount Greylock is the Bascom Lodge. It is an Arts and Crafts mountain lodge with a comfortable restaurant serving each day at set hours. The setting is family style and very relaxed while the food is healthy and wonderful.
Mount Snow in Vermont has lift rides to view the colors until October 13th. Some guests enjoy taking the chairlift up to the summit and then descending the mountain at their own pace. Your efforts will be rewarded with magnificent views of southern New England and New York State. On the ride home, make a stop by the funky and wonderful Chelsea Royal Diner at 487 Marlboro Rd, Brattleboro, VT.
Brattleboro is a community that also has something I have not heard of before—a walking tour of “Treasured Trees.” The community nominates trees considered fascinating and developed this very popular walking tour to promote these tree treasures. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org. The Tree Advisory Board is 230 Main Street; walking maps can be accessed at www.brattleboro.org
Attend one of the many area Octoberfest celebrations, such as the popular Lake George Oktoberfest Fall Festival. Oktoberfest festivities begin 5pm on Friday, October 10th, continuing on October 11th and 12th.There is a “Street-Wide” German & Bavarian Celebration up and down Canada Street. Adults can enjoy the food and, of course, the beer. Children can do face painting, take pony rides and much more. Who needs to go to the Black Forest of Germany?
Drive south to look over the Catskill Mountain Range the first week of October and through the first week of November. There are some great “peeping” spots, including Roundout Creek in the Peekamoose Gorge at Buttermilk Falls and the Walkway Over the Hudson in Highland Park. See www.walkway.org. The Vanderbilt estate in Hyde Park is another great stop combining leaf watching with some great American history to enjoy and discuss.
2014-Oct-ommegang.jpgBrewery Ommegang advises us on their web page to attend The Taste of the Catskills Festival. It’s a family-friendly event that showcases the food, beer, crafts, and wine of our region. With a variety of vendors including farmers, value-added food producers, and restaurants, attendees learn how food travels from farm to fork during a fun-filled autumn weekend on the grounds of Maple Shade Farm, a family-run farm in Delhi. They will be pouring their popular Valar Morghulis, Fire and Blood, Scythe & Sickle and Hop House. You also could stop by the mind-blowing café at the Brewery Ommegang for some beer tasting (it’s Octoberfest time, after all) and their Belgium-themed food. You must try the moules and frites.
The Adirondacks and Lake Placid are great for bundling up and enjoying October. This Fall, there will be festivals, markets, tours and workshops throughout the region. Whiteface Mountain’s Oktoberfest is always fun, as well as Lake Placid’s Flaming Leaves Festival, Beer Fest, the Essex County Cheese Tour, and the 1st Annual Lake Placid Bluegrass Jam. October 25th is the Bluegrass Jam (you can save $10 by purchasing online). The festivities will take place in the 1932 rink of the Lake Placid Olympic Center. www.whiteface.com/events/lake-placid-bluegrass-jam. On Sunday, October 12, Adirondack Harvest will host the first Essex County, NY, Cheese Tour. You can learn more about that choice at www.adirondackharvest.com/cheesetour.html.
Historic house tours
in the Berkshires enhance fall foliage experience
By Jill Stewart Narrow
Fall in the Berkshires is a brilliant palate of reds, oranges, and yellows exploding on the rolling mountainsides. Perhaps it’s your first fall excursion from the Capital Region to the Berkshires or maybe it’s an annual pilgrimage to view autumn in all of its splendor. Either way, the foliage sets the backdrop for a plethora of festivals and museum tours. Now is the perfect time to step into history by visiting some of the area’s many historic houses.
Did you know that two of the most celebrated writers in American history created their classic works in the Berkshires? Books on school required reading lists for generations were written at Arrowhead in Pittsfield and The Mount, just down the road in Lenox.
Fast-forward half a century and there’s The Mount, Edith Wharton’s elegant estate and gardens in Lenox. Completed in 1902, it was in this turn-of-the-century house that Wharton created two of her greatest works, Ethan Frome and House of Mirth. Visitors can tour the home, which was designed on the principles of her book, The Decoration of Houses. Three acres of exquisite formal gardens have been reconstructed to imagine Wharton’s original plantings.
While designed and built toward the end of the Gilded Age, The Mount differs from other mansions of the time. Wharton believed a house should be based on proportion, harmony and simplicity. Therefore, Wharton eschewed the excesses of Victorian design. Unlike the other Gilded Age mansions, there is no grand ballroom here. Instead, Wharton desired smaller rooms for intimate conversations with small groups of friends.
In addition to touring the restored rooms in the house, visitors can view exhibits documenting Wharton’s life and the restoration process. This year, the 100th anniversary of World War I, there’s a special installation on Wharton’s humanitarian work in Europe during the war, much of it at The Front in France.
The Mount is open daily until October 31. Weekly ghost tours of the “haunted” places at The Mount are offered this month every Friday night. A Backstairs Tour on Thursdays and Sundays gives a glimpse of the people who ran the estate and what it was like to live in such a grand place. PBS lovers will enjoy the “Upstairs, Downstairs” aspect to this tour. Save the date of Monday, October 13, for the Coaching Weekend, a return to the Gilded Age featuring horse-drawn carriages parading through the Mount. The popular storytelling events led by author Matthew Dicks are scheduled for October 18 and 19. And mark your calendars for November 26 and 30 when the Wharton Salon moves inside for a new adaptation Wharton’s “The Long Run” and other stories performed by a team of artists.
The summer home of the author Herman Melville, Arrowhead is the spot where literary history was made. Although Melville bought the farm in 1850 to provide a summer retreat for his family, the property actually dates back to 1780. With a stunning view of Mount Greylock, he wrote one of the most famous works in American literature, Moby Dick. Even though this tale has such a strong connection to the sea, Melville found his inspiration in the mountain setting of the Berkshires. It is even thought that the looming presence of Mount Greylock helped him shape out his idea of the great white whale.
Arrowhead today is owned by the Berkshire Historical Society and its purpose is to perpetuate the narrative of Melville’s’ life. Open year-round, visitors can see the house, barn (often used by Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne to discuss their writings), and the meadow, which serves as a habitat for over 100 species of wildflowers, grasses and other flora.
New this year at Arrowhead is farming on the property in conjunction with Community Supported Agriculture. The bounty includes the types of vegetables, fruit and herbs that would have been grown in Melville’s day, as well as eggs from 25 heritage breeds of chickens. October 24 is International Food Day celebrating the organization’s first harvest. A Herman Melville cookbook based on a compilation of recipes from the farmers is in the works and will be available for Christmas gifts.
Frelinghuysen Morris House and Studio
Tourists who visit the Berkshires and expect to see only Colonial houses and Gilded Age mansions are in for a delightful surprise. The modern early 1940s home of abstract painters George L. K. Morris and Suzy Frelinghuysen, called the Frelinghuysen Morris House and Studio, was the setting for the couple’s creation of their most important works. Painting in the Cubist style, they used their influence as members of High Society families to found the American abstract movement at a time when many American museums did not embrace that art form. Located on a 42-acre estate, the house contains their beautiful collection of American and European cubist painters like Picasso, Gris, Leger and Miro, as well as their own abstract works.
Hidden away from public view off Hawthorne Street in Lenox, this notable Berkshire dwelling is just a brief, scenic walk or shuttle ride from the gate. The white stucco home features large sections of glass block to let in natural light and is decorated both indoors and outside with the couple’s own painted frescoes. Inside, highlights are a marbled foyer with curved staircase and wrought iron railing, as well as the art deco living room with sunken bar and leather flooring. Of course, the cubist art, both European and American, takes center stage in the house and the studio.
The current exhibit in the Morris adjacent studio (built earlier, in 1930) pairs the works of George Morris and his contemporary, Harry Holtzman. Visitors should make sure to catch this exhibit showing their collaborative efforts and their different approaches to abstraction. The exhibit will run through Columbus Day; after that weekend, house tours by appointment will continue through the end of the month. If you’re lucky, Kinney Frelinghuysen, director of the house and nephew of Suzy, may stop in to add extra insight to the studio tour. On Fridays, the public can watch painting demonstrations by different invited artists, weather permitting.
Lindsey Schmid, Marketing and Communications Director of the Berkshires Visitors Bureau, sums up the historic house experience: “Whether you’re looking for a Downton Abbey experience or if you want to delve into abstract art, you are bound to find a slice of history that excites you.”
For more information on other historic house tours in the Berkshires, visit www.berkshires.org.