Berkshire Mountains History Lesson

Berkshire Mountains HistoryHere at the Gateways Inn, we’re passionate about sharing the charms of the Berkshires. The place we call home has a unique combination of scenic natural beauty and a thriving arts and culture scene. It’s no surprise that the Berkshire Mountains are also steeped in history. From prehistoric geological events and early indigenous people to legendary American artists and writers, the Berkshire Mountains have an engaging history that will provide you with plenty of activities to participate in during your time with us.


The Berkshire Mountains are a less prominent continuation of the Vermont Green Mountains, formed approximately 25,000 years ago when the retreating ice age glaciers wore down the sharp mountains in the area into the rolling hills that stand today. The first settlers were Mahican Indians who retreated to the area along the Housatonic in the 1600s to avoid conflict with the Iroquois.


Following the Mahicans, European settlers came to the area. Early on, the Berkshire Mountains became known as a place for independent thinkers and several significant events in American history occurred here: the first draft of the Declaration of Independence was written here and both the women’s rights movements and the civil rights movements were born in the region.


Throughout the history of the Berkshire Mountains, many notable writers, architects and artists have made their mark on both local and national culture. Evidence of their influence remains today. The Mission House in Stockbridge is an example of colonial-era architecture as well as the history between the Mahican’s and the colonial settlers. The home’s original owner was a minister who was granted permission to live among the Mahican’s. Today, this landmark, only a 15 minute drive from the Gateways Inn, acts as a museum with 18th-century furnishings and arts as well as a collection of Native American artifacts. Other historic homes in the area include Naumkeag Museum and Gardens, Chesterwood both just down the road from us, and the Mount, Edith Whartons legenderary home which is 2 miles away .


Herman Melville famously completed Moby Dick at his home in the Berkshire Mountains, Arrowhead, which is open for visitors to tour. And Norman Rockwell made the area his home from 1953 until his death in 1978. His studio has been preserved in Stockbridge and art enthusiasts can visit the Norman Rockwell Museum and view the largest collection of original Rockwell pieces in the world. The museum and studio are exactly six miles away on our street (Rt 183) . Norman used to dine here at The Gateways Inn restaurant every Thursday night for the last twelve years of his life and we still name our private dining room in his honor. Or you can visit Ventfort Hall just across the street from us, for a look at the lifestyles of the super wealthy during the Gilded Age, when Lenox became a popular vacation spot. Today the mansion is home to a museum full of decorative art, furniture, clothing and other items from the late 19th century. The award winning movie Cider House Rules was filmed here.


When you’re making your plans to soak in all the history the Berkshire Mountains have to offer, don’t forget to book your stay at the Gateways Inn. Our bed and breakfast is located in the heart of Lenox, so you’ll never be very far from all the sites and activities you’ll want to experience. And after a day out and about, you’ll be glad to relax in one of our beautiful rooms or suites. If you crave superb cuisine, cocktails or live entertainment, head down to our Restaurant or Lounge for a special evening at the inn. At the Gateways Inn, you’ll experience the true spirit of the Berkshire Mountains and make memories to last a lifetime. We look forward to seeing you soon!


Mission House photo courtesy Daderot via Wikimedia Commons.