The Mount

Photograph of the northwest view of the library of the Mount
Photograph of the northwest view of the library of the Mount.

Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University.

Quick Facts
Lenox, Massachusetts
Designed by author Edith Wharton
National Historic Landmark

The Mount, designed by Edith Wharton in 1902, documents the wide ranging talents of one of the finest American novelists of the 20th century. In 1897, Edith Wharton, the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for fiction, co-authored The Decoration of Houses, with Boston architect Ogden Codman, Jr. Now considered one of the seminal works of professional interior design, this book clearly presents Wharton’s strong views about good taste and moderation. These views were successfully translated into her own new home, The Mount. During an era of flamboyant house decoration, Wharton designed an airy, informal mansion with many design elements drawn from the houses of continental Europe.

Wharton also collaborated with her niece Beatrix Farrand, an acclaimed landscape architect, to design the gardens and landscaping of The Mount. One of America's great writers, Wharton wrote her first major work, The House of Mirth (1905), “a novel of manners” that described the tensions between New York’s “old” 19th-century elite society and the emerging economic power of industrialists and financiers while at The Mount. The cold Massachusetts’ winters spent there inspired Wharton’s 1911 Ethan Frome.

After Wharton and her husband sold The Mount in 1911, Wharton refused to visit the house as “a stranger.” She continued to write in her new home in Europe and in 1921 was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for The Age of Innocence. In 1923, Wharton became the first woman to receive an honorary degree of doctorate of letters from Yale University. The Mount survived as the Foxhollow School for Girls until the 1970s and was later purchased and saved from neglect by Edith Wharton Restoration, Inc. through a grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Last updated: November 4, 2021