Have you ever lived near a “tourist attraction” but never visited it? Such is the case with me and The Mount. For a year I lived a few miles down the road from it in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, but I never visited.
That unfortunate situation is now remedied, as I made it the first stop on my 2015 summer vacation (which also resolved the issue of never having gone to Acadia National Park).
The Mount, the once crumbling and overgrown former estate of writer Edith Wharton, has been brought back to life through a tremendous restoration effort. (Though perhaps not quite as dramatic as the restoration undertaken by The Lost Gardens of Heligan.)
The formal gardens include an Italian style white garden (my favorite), a colorful French garden, a hillside garden, and geometrically precise allées and terraces.
The gardens and grounds also featured some a number of outdoor sculptures which are part of a show with SculptureNow.
What the inside of the house lacks in authentic furnishings (most rooms are empty), it makes up for in extensive interpretive material.
Exhibits throughout the house explore the surprisingly unconventional life of Wharton—she married late at 23, later had a 3-year affair, divorced in her early 50s, and was a successful writer in a number of genres at a time when women didn’t typically do such things.
I left feeling like I’d actually met her—not just the amazingly accomplished Renaissance woman, but the human being driven by compassion and passion in equal measure.