Wednesday, December 16, 2020

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (American Gilded Age Version)

The Front of Ventfort Hall now (well as of last month)

While on our march across upstate New York during our forced absence from our home, we ventured to Lennox Mass and a Gilded Age Mansion of a J P Morgan-adjacent relative. It is called Ventfort Hall.

For those of you not familiar with the term, the Gilded Age refers to a time int he late 1800s and early 1900s when capitalism ran rampant and gigantic fortunes were made, with none of the pesky worrying about the poor people (that was sarcasm, not a serious comment - I have to say things like that now). 

The main staircase and 2nd floor landing

Lennox was a haunt of such wealthy and social unaware folk. There, one of the cousins of Morgan fell into a fortune of about US $90 million in today's money. She took a third of it (approximately $35 million) and built herself a great big house with it.

Years later, after life as a home, then a music school, theater training dorms, Bible Camp housing and setting for movies (Cider House Rules), it has become a museum of the Gilded Age. 

The Casual Dining Room (not the fancy one)

It almost didn't make it. A developer (queue the "boo hiss") wanted to tear it down and build nursing home residences, but was prevented by local regulations. He could only tear it down if it was "derelict". So he knock holes in the roof and floors to allow in water and rot. In a fight for time, local activists fought and got it put on the historical register, thwarting the developer. Then the museum board purchased it and now we saw it. 

Back of the home

Here is the wikipedia page, but the pictures show how cool parts of it are (much is still left to be renovated).

And, no the pictures are not lying, we were the only ones there (plus a docent).

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