The 210-acre seasonal home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra began as two summer cottage estates located between Lenox and Stockbridge. One of these estates, Tanglewood, was the home of poet Caroline Sturgis and William Aspinwall Tappan. In 1937, after 20 years of informal musical performances in Lenox, Mary Aspinwall Tappan offered Tanglewood to Serge Koussevitzky, director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Koussevitzky envisioned the property as a premier music festival and professional academy, and the Berkshire Music Center (now the Tanglewood Music Center) opened in July 1940.
The sloping upper campus, which includes two 19th century houses, offers expansive views of the Stockbridge Bowl and surrounding mountains. The historic entrance drive is bordered with Norway spruces, while terracotta lions flank the entrance atop brick gateposts. The cottages’ open lawns and tree groupings are enclosed with fencing and vegetation, while a vine-clad pergola and a thick hemlock hedge remain as vestiges of the estate’s formal garden. These gardens were installed in the early 20th century by Richard Dixey, a musician and husband of the Tappans' daughter, Ellen. Several Modernist structures designed by architects Eliel and Eero Saarinen were built between 1938 and 1959, including the Music Shed, which contains 5,000 seats and has a curved profile that opens to an audience lawn area. The low-slung, darkly painted wooden structures are nested unobtrusively in their naturalistic surroundings. In 1986, Tanglewood acquired the 100-acre lower campus, which is characterized by fields interspersed with agricultural outbuildings and 70 acres of public woodland.