Wheatleigh

Wheatleigh_feature_CharlesBirnbaum_2013.jpg
Lenox, MA
United States
Wheatleigh

In 1892 financier Henry Harvey Cook purchased 250 acres to establish a country estate in the Berkshire Hills, named after his family’s ancestral home in Wheatley, England. Cook retained architects Peabody and Stearns to design the Italian Renaissance mansion which was completed in 1894. Sited upon a wooded plateau, the house’s porticoes and balconies framed sweeping views of open fields and Stockbridge Bowl. Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. designed Wheatleigh’s pastoral park.

The mansion is approached by a circular drive that terminates in a formal entrance court partially enclosed by a buff brick wall and evergreen trees, centered on an octagonal marble fountain decorated with a shell and leaf motif. Behind the U-shaped house is a patio terrace and formal garden, from which a broad staircase connects to open lawns and sloping walks bordered by azaleas, mountain laurel, and rhododendrons. The property also included a 20-acre lily pond with an octagonal, 100-foot high water tower, built of ashlar stone and clapboard in 1899.

Upon Cook’s death in 1905 Wheatleigh passed to his daughter, Georgie, the Countess de Heredia. Under her ownership the formal garden was opened for evening worshipping services and musical events. Following de Heredia's death in 1946 the property was divided and changed hands numerous times. In 1976 the mansion and 22 acres were purchased by David Weisgal and opened as a resort hotel with a pool, tennis courts, and nature walks. Wheatleigh was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.