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My blog has been changed to make it more appealing for those who have New England ancestors and want to see the area through photos. Things I’ll include are typical white New England churches, libraries showing their genealogical collection, historical societies, cemeteries, war memorials, in general, anything to do with history.

For four years I’ve blogged mostly about my personal genealogy in New England (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire), New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada. I still will, can’t forget my own roots.

Please check out the labels on the right side for articles. The header tabs at the top are a work in progress.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum, With Several Surprises

Once I found out about Ventfort Hall Mansion, I knew I had to visit. In October, we went to Lenox, Massachusetts for the weekend, and Sadie gave us one of the best tours ever. This summer "Cottage" belonged to the sister of J. P. Morgan, and was built in 1893. From a flyer, this house was "Rescued from demolition in 1994 and opened to the public in 2000." Ventfort or Vent Fort means "strong wind."

From their webpage, "Described at the time of its completion as “one of the most beautiful places in Lenox,” the house had “28 rooms, including 15 bedrooms, 13 bathrooms and 17 fireplaces.” Typical of the period, the interior features a soaring three-story great hall and staircase with wood paneling detailing. Other rooms include an elegant salon, paneled library, a dining room, a billiard room and bowling alley. It was designed with all the latest modern amenities, numerous ingeniously ventilated bathrooms, combined gas and electric light fixtures, an elevator, burglar alarms and central heating. The property contained several outbuildings, including two gatehouses, a carriage house/stable and six greenhouses." 

This house is open year-round, and I just saw a photo of a room decorated for Christmas, it's the last photo on this blog.

Front entrance, through the red door.


This is the gift shop. The fire place with mantle was better shown in my first photo.


Down a long hall, is the dining room. Check out this ceiling.
See a recent photo at the end of this post, of this room decked out in Christmas finery. You will want to visit!



Lots of stained glass.

One long hall.


Elegant ceiling and staircase.

A few costumes were displayed. Unfortunately, I missed the special exhibit displaying more of these beautiful clothes.

The above photo was taken through a glass window on a door. The area is being renovated. I hope it's a kitchen!
Two bedrooms below.



I love the unique brown wooden shutters above the mirror.


Dining Room above, and Orientation or Meeting room below.


Repair work being done on the back, and below is old photo of the front.




Booklet about the history of Ventfort Hall, purchased from our tour guide.


The exterior of "The Cider House Rules" movie was filmed here. I saw it when it first came out, and decided to see it again, thanks to my library.




Additional bit of information I found very interesting. There was a smaller Ventfort house, built abt. 1853 at this same location, and it was moved nearby and renamed "Bel Air." The original house was the home of the Haggerty family, and daughter Annie, who married Robert Gould Shaw (my detailed post)! While on their honeymoon, Robert wrote, "The countryside is just beginning to look green and the weather is perfect. We are living at Pa Haggerty's place which is a remarkably pretty one..." He died three months later. Annie never remarried, and is buried in the town cemetery where two of my ancestors are.

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https://www.gildedage.org/events/a-home-for-the-holidays/

Friday, November 17, 2017

What Did He do With all of his Money? He Built a Castle!

With so many lush green shrubs and trees, we could hardly see the castle as we walked down a long hill from the parking lot. My last visit was over 55 years ago, and my memory was a blur. What delightful surprises; the sight of the Gloucester Harbor, lovely spring plants all around, colorful stained glass and a outdoor courtyard in the middle of this huge medieval style castle.

So who had this built? From the flyer we were given, "John Hays Hammond, Jr., while living in Washington, D.C. met Thomas Edison, who in turn introduced John to Alexander Graham Bell. Under Bell's guidance, he worked three years as a clerk in the U. S. Patent Office." His calling was in his inventions and various occupations during his life time. He developed a radio guidance device for pilot-less ships, "with nobody on board, which immediately got the interest of the United States Navy." "He is credited with 800 inventions and 437 patents." From Wikipedia: He "an American inventor known as 'The Father of Radio Control'. Hammond’s pioneering developments in electronic remote control are the foundation for all modern radio remote control devices, including modern missile guidance systems, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and the unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAVs)."

The castle (with his laboratory) was built as a bridal present for his wife in 1926, they moved in, in 1929 and opened it as a museum in 1930.
Entrance over the drawbridge.

Door to the drawbridge and photos of the hallway are below.
Above photo, drawbridge door to the left.
Medieval style hall and rooms with Roman, medieval, and Renaissance artifacts.





Right by the chair, is a very narrow, circular, staircase to the lower floor.

The group of photos below are on the lower floor.






Below 4 photos taken on first floor, near sales counter and gift shop.




Early photo of Hammond Castle on display.

My favorite area was the courtyard.




Back and side views of the castle and property.