The Merwin Home is the western-most home in Massachusetts that Historic New England owns, located in Stockbridge, MA. Stockbridge is located in the heart of the Berkshires, and if you haven’t been, you should go! I actually went to college in Western Massachusetts, but didn’t really explore too much – what a dummy (but of all the mistakes I made during my college years, this one is pretty easy for me to forgive ;0)
It’s a gorgeous area, and reminded me a lot of the Crawford Notch area in New Hampshire, another favorite place of mine. Visiting this home gave me a good excuse to plan a weekend away with my Mom – and resulted in a mini-vacation that I’ll always be so glad we took!
- Records date back to 1781 for this plot of land, passing through multiple owners, including the Dresser family who built the Federal Style home we see today in 1825.
- The Berkshires became a popular summer destination for wealthy NYC families in the mid to late 1800’s. At that time, people could board a train in Grand Central Station and four hours later arrive in the Berkshires, making it an easy trip to leave the hustle & bustle of the city. This drastically changed the rural landscape of the town, and is how William & Elizabeth Doane were introduced to Stockbridge. They purchased the home from the Dressers in 1875 – naming it “Tranquility“.
- The Doanes made renovations to the home, adding on the gorgeous back porch overlooking the Housatonic river and other significant renovations in 1900 (keeping up with the Jones’ and their 40+ room mansions that were popping up in the area couldn’t have been easy!). William & Elizabeth had two daughters, Vipont & Elizabeth. William died in 1923, but the daughters continued to summer in the home.
- The story really turns to Vipont after 1923, who lived quite an interesting life. During the tour you’ll see newspaper articles written about her second marriage (out of three) and lots of different antiques and treasures she collected during her world-wide travels. Her third and last marriage was to Edward Merwin, for whom the home is now named. Vipont & Edward lived in the house year round, and after Edwards death in 1936, she remained in the home for 30 more years.
- Vipont passed away in 1966, and she left the home to Historic New England to become a museum, “as an example of an American culture which is fast becoming extinct.” Today, the Merwin House is only open a few days a year for hours tours, but also plays home to the Berskhire offices of the Housatonic Valley Association which seems very fitting!
This looks like an entirely different house from the front! While the view of the Housatonic River has been shielded by growing trees & shrubs, this back porch certainly lends itself to it’s original name of “Tranquility“.
It’s easy to see why Vipont spent so much time in this light, bright room! The trim details on the fireplace were amazing, and I loved the archway showcasing the curved stairs!
So much to look at in this room! This is where she kept many of her treasures – don’t miss the collection hidden behind the door! The light fixtures above the fireplace were my favorite.
I didn’t notice until now, but the wall color is the same as one of my own rooms – maybe that’s why I felt so at home here! The built in’s were so pretty, and it seemed like such an intimate room as it was easy to see that she loved all the trinkets & reminders of her travels.
- OBSESSED with the original light fixtures featured in the study above the fireplace – the candles are original too!
- Vipont’s bathroom is amazing, and I’m sure anyone today would love that shower. What’s old always becomes new again!
- The intricate carving on the mantel in the front parlor and the curving trim of the staircase were so charming
- Similar to the Old Manse, look closely at the window panes in the front parlor – there are some inscriptions there!
- The coffee server in the study is so intricate – I can’t imagine actually using that to drink coffee out of!
- I loved the diamond pattern glass on what was the front door!
- The Merwin House is only open 4 days a year – and the next (and last) date it’s open in 2019 is October 26th – so plan, plan plan!
- Stockbridge is just under two hours from Worcester, so just to reiterate – plan, plan plan! But there was so much to do around the area, you will not have any issues filling up a weekend!