Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sentimental Sunday - The Music Room at Windyside, Lenox, Massachusetts

I wrote in an earlier post about my mother's family ties to Lenox, Massachusetts, which I'd known about for as long as I can remember. What I discovered a little more than a year ago was that my father's family also had ties to Lenox, and were "cottagers" about the same time as members of my mother's family. This spring I returned to the Greenleaf ancestral home at Lenox and was able to walk in spaces I'd read about and researched in the past year.

Richard Cranch (1845-1913) and Adeline Emma Stone Greenleaf (1849-1936) lived much of the time in Lenox at a cottage on Yokun Avenue called "Windyside." The Lenox Greenleafs are one of my favorite family groups to research, largely because the New York Times covered much of Lenox society in their day, bringing these people to life in a way I haven't found in other sources.

Among the events covered in the Times were concerts and musicales given by the Greenleafs in the music room at Windyside. One notable architectural feature in the music room is a huge terra-cotta fireplace. I discovered this feature first in Jackson and Gilder's Houses of the Berkshires, 1870-1930, where they describe the fireplace as "a notable ornament in the history of terra-cotta ornament in America." [1] American Architect and Building News published a photograph of the fireplace in the January 31, 1885 issue:

The fireplace is described as "16 feet wide, 12 feet high, and 8 feet deep, ... executed in terra-cotta by the Boston Terra-Cotta Company." [2]

In September 1890, the New York Times reported:

"Mrs. and Miss Greenleaf gave one of the most enjoyable and successful germans of the season at the great Greenleaf cottage to-night. The house was beautifully decorated. The great music room was decorated with palms and tropical potted plants. The great fireplace and mantel, the largest and most elegant in Lenox, were decorated handsomly with autumn flowers and foliage." [3]

In September of 1883, the Times mentions a morning musicale and the only piece I've found thus far to mention the music room's organ:

"Mrs. Richard C. Greenleaf gave a musicale Wednesday morning, when Adamowski played. He was assisted by Mrs. John I. Kane and Mr. R. C. Dixey. This is the first time that Adamowski has been in Lenox this season. Among the selections that he played were a gavotte by Carl Berg, Hungarian Dance by Natchez, novelette composed by himself, prelude to the 'Deluge' by Saint-Saens, and barcarolle by Sitt. The large organ in the Greenleaf music room was presided over by Mr. Dixey, and Mrs. Eames played the piano." [4]

[1] Jackson, Richard S, Jr., and Cornelia Brooke Gilder. Houses of the Berkshires, 1870-1930. New York: Acanthus Press, 2006.
[2] American Architect and Building News 17 (no. 475 : 31 January 1885). Online. Internet Archive : Accessed: 18 July 2010.
[3] "Society Still at Lenox," New York Times, 30 Sept 1890, pg. 4. Online. ProQuest Historical Newspapers : Accessed 18 July 2010.
[4] "Not Ready to Leave Lenox," New York Times, 24 Sept 1893, pg. 17. Online. ProQuest Historical Newspapers : Accessed: 18 July 2010.

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