Come visit the Gilded Age in this this haunted Berkshires mansion.
Does the building look familiar? It should, it was featured in the movie The Cider House Rules adding another layer to the legend of this mansion.
The Gilded Age was a period of rapid economic growth in America. The age spanned from the end of the Civil War until the first World War. It was a time for American Business Royalty like the Vanderbilts, the Rockerfellers, and the Morgans to leave their mark on the stock market and on our landscape with mansions that reflected excess in every sense of the word.
Newport has its mansions. But so do the Berkshires.
Ventfort Hall was completed in 1893. Built by George and Sarah Morgan, the 28,000 square foot mansion was the crown jewel of the social season in the Berkshires. Sarah Morgan was the sister of financial mogul, J.P. Morgan. Her husband, George, was also a Morgan—the couple were seventh cousins.
At 28,000 square feet, this house was still considered a cottage. One of 75 built in this region for New York City tycoons looking to get away in the summer. You can almost picture a scene out of the Great Gatsby with lavish parties that raged well into the night. The house had 28 rooms, including 15 bedrooms, 13 bathrooms and 17 fireplaces.
After passing through several owners, the mansion served as a dormitory for Tanglewood students, a summer hotel, and housing for a religious community. In the 1980s, the building was almost lost to a developer who wanted to demolish the building, but it was saved by the Ventfort Hall Association who has worked to preserve the building ever since.
Maybe it’s haunted because this place was a getaway for Sarah and George Morgan, and they’re still seeking the solitude of Venfort Hall.
Maybe it’s haunted because for some of us, the Gilded Age represented a better and more simple time. We long to attend one of those Gatsby-like parties, to swing dance to jazz, and to toss back glasses of champagne without the threat of terrorism, nuclear attack, or even our cell phones ringing with some annoying work call.
Staff of Ventfort Hall have heard doors slam, voices call out, seen the apparition of a woman dressed in 1920s garb in the dining room, there’s been a figured sighted on the staircase, and strange smells from flowers to cigars are a regular occurrence.
We’re crossing social lines on this Legend Trip. We’re stepping back into the Gilded Age. This is a house that folks like us would not have been invited to during its heyday. Fortunately we can go there on June 13th and party with the spirits of Ventfort Hall!