One of the crown jewels of America’s historic homes, a grand Vanderbilt family home that straddles the Massachusetts towns of Stockbridge and Lenox, is on the market for $12.5 million. The property, which was built in the Berkshires in 1886, is filled with history around every corner.
Elm Court Estate was owned by philanthropist William Douglas Sloane and Emily Vanderbilt, granddaughter of family patriarch Cornelius Vanderbilt. The 89-acre property was originally built as a summer cottage to be enjoyed by family and friends. It was designed by the architectural firm Peabody & Stearns with the grounds done by Frederick Law Olmstead, who is widely acclaimed as the founder of American landscape architecture. After many structural and aesthetic additions and renovations, the home culminated in a finished version after the turn of the century.
The estate, which was designated as a national historic landmark, got its name from a large elm tree that once stood near the entrance. Constructed as a summer home for family and friends, Elm Court Estate was the meeting site for the Elm Court Talks in 1919, which led to the creation of the Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations.
A less ornate style than the Vanderbilt family’s more-famous Biltmore House in North Carolina, Elm Court Estate occupies a significant place in the timeline of American architecture. Its shingle style evolved from America’s New England architectural movement of the late 1800s modeled after Colonial American architecture.
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In the effort to keep up with the high costs of running the large property after the original owners passed away, the Vanderbilt heirs turned it into an inn in the late 1940s. During the 1950s, it was a venue for special events, dinners and overnight guests. Elm Court Estate eventually closed its doors and was boarded up until 1999 when descendants of Emily Vanderbilt began to renovate the estate.
At 55,000 square feet and 106 rooms, much of the renovation of the three-story home has been finished with the main living areas and 13 bedrooms completed. The remodeling prioritized preserving original details such as the intricately carved plaster ceiling in the dining room, herringbone wood floors and wood-burning fireplaces.
Fresh design flair was added with a new kitchen island and a large mahogany butler’s pantry with a window seat and room for casual dining. All rooms are spacious enough for grand-scale entertaining.
The grounds contain more buildings, including the larger butler’s house, gardener’s cottage and multiple greenhouses with one large enough to grow taller fruit trees. In addition, there is a caretaker’s house, carriage house, stable and two barns.
Elm Court Estate is listed by Timothy Lovett of Berkshire Property Agents in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.