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Hampton Terrace Innkeeper Blog: Deals and Things to Do in Lenox and the Berkshires

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Out of the Ordinary: Haunted Happenings in the Berkshires

  
  
  
Exploring the haunted houses and supernatural settings of the Berkshires is a great break from the everyday getaway. If you are searching for something extraordinary, engaging, and genuinely entertaining to include on an adventurous weekend getaway to the Berkshires, unwrapping the historical secrets behind any of the haunted houses in the Berkshires is the perfect plan.

Here are a few of the most popular haunted destinations in the Berkshires:
 
  • describe the imageThe Hoosac Tunnel – During its construction in the late 1800s, a great many of the Hoosac Tunnel workers lost their lives using nitroglycerine to blast through two million tons of granite beneath Hoosac Mountain. In modern times, hikers in the tunnel area have reported experiencing the eerie presence of wailing ghosts and the unoiled squeals of swaying lanterns. Use caution entering the tunnel area. 
     
  • The Mount – Novelist Edith Wharton was no stranger to the supernatural. As a child she feared “a dark, undefinable menace forever dogging my steps, lurking and threatening.” While touring the Mount, many visitors claim that menacing force still hauntingly lingers throughout the estate. Open May through October, click here to plan your visit. 
     
  • Venfort Hall – Located in the heart of Lenox, Venfort Hall has long been considered to be one of the area’s most haunted houses. Having attracted haunted house hunters from around the world, this famous mansion’s haunting voices and spooky screams have been featured on the SyFy Channel’s Ghost Hunter television program.
     
  • Haughton Mansion – The first mayor of North Adams, Albert C. Houghton, and his family called this Church Street estate home in the early 1900s. Most of the ghost stories haunting this house arise from a pivotal 11 days during which four deaths were associated with the Haughton mansion. The Berkshire Paranormal Society entertains the curious; click here for more information.
     
 The Hampton Terrace Bed & Breakfast is pleased to be the safe place you call home while you explore the haunted houses and supernatural secrets of the Berkshires. To discover more about what The Berkshires and our bed & breakfast have to offer, subscribe to our blog or visit our website. And be sure to contact us for a personal quote the next time you plan a trip to the Berkshires!

Craft Beer in the Berkshires

  
  
  

Craft beer breweries are thriving in the Berkshires. What comes to mind when you consider craft beer in Western Massachusetts? Award-winning, excellence, and availability ought to be at the top of the list as several of the best craft beer breweries in Massachusetts are situated on the main streets and back roads west of the Quabbin Reservoir. 

Malt Washing MachineWhether you are just starting out in pursuit of malt beverage excellence or you have shaped a lifetime out of chasing the perfect pint, touring the craft beer breweries of the Berkshires is a fantastic way to experience the local craft beer culture. From delicious stouts and lagers to savory steaks and sandwiches, each of these five craft beer breweries are within a short drive from the Hampton Terrace Bed & Breakfast:

  • Brew masters Bill and Christine Heaton have more than a decade of experience brewing craft beers in the Berkshires and now operate the Big Elm Brewery at 65 Silver Street in Sheffield MA.

  • Chuck full of award-winning brews, the beer found on the list at John Harvard’s Brewery & Ale House will satisfy the brew connoisseur. John Harvard’s is located along the slopes of Jiminy Peak at 37 Corey Road in Hancock, MA.

  • Serving pints and flights of their own solar-brewed craft beers, the impressive selections of the Barrington Brewery & Restaurant are located at 420 Stockbridge Road in Great Barrington, MA.

  • Right around the corner in the heart of the Berkshires is brewer Bert Holdredge, who won the 2011 “Brewers Choice Prize” in the 2011 NYC Homebrew Competition. The story of his Wandering Star Brewery was featured in an edible Berkshires article, and is located at 11 Gifford Street, Pittsfield, MA. Wandering Star is not a brewpub, so you’ll need to bring your growlers.

  • Located at 169 College Hwy, Southampton, MA, the beer, beverage, and steakhouse dining specials offered by Opa Opa Steakhouse & Brewery are qualified to satisfy the whole family.

Please keep The Hampton Terrace Bed & Breakfast in mind when planning a craft beer brewery tour or any other getaway to the Berkshires. If you’d like to discover more about what our bed & breakfast has to offer, subscribe to our blog, or see what others have to say about their experience with us on TripAdvisor and Yelp. Hampton Terrace is committed to making our guests’ stay memorable. Contact Us with any needs you may have in planning your trip and we’ll be happy to accommodate!

Spring Upgrades at Hampton Terrace in Lenox

  
  
  

Hampton Terrace Hallway

We have owned Hampton Terrace for fifteen years, and not a year goes by when we don't inplement a major project, or orchestrate a series of property upgrades.  This Spring is no exception.

Now that we have returned, I can share that Susan and I spent a couple of weeks away from the inn - celebrating our 35th anniversary at a beach, and visiting our kids and grandkids in Texas.   While we were gone, we had most of the main house floors completely refinished.   This is the kind of project that is best done behind one's back, although we had a really busy several days putting things back in order upon our return.   We chose to have the original, natural oak tone highlighted, and we are very pleased with the result.

Also taking advantage of our absence was Bob, our loyal painter.  We have been wanting to repaint our dining room for a while, and now it is done.   Further, I left him several cans of white semi-gloss and instructed him to freshen every trim and door he desired.   As a result, he pretty much hit everything:  the front door and all floor, ceiling and door trims, plus inside windows and closets.   I love people who self-motivate, and he even repainted our creamy yellow front hall and second-floor landing.   Then as he always does, he walked me around the property upon our return and showed off everything he did....like a proud Papa.   And left me a bill that always seems too low.   Bob is like a member of our family.

Other improvements:  new carpets in Carriage House rooms 1 and 2 and in several of our suites.   And a new furnace and hot water heater.

For those who have not been here in the past year....ALL new HD TVs, and a vastly upgraded WiFi system.   Both sorely needed and DONE.

We've also been asked to consider extra shelf space in some of our bathrooms and Susan and plan to spend the month of April working on that.

Everyone who stays at Hampton Terrace is asked, in a follow-up e-mail, to suggest improvements.   We take that feedback VERY seriously, and plan to address as many upgrades as possible over the next several months.

 

 

 

 

Wicked Tuna. Bob Newhart. Hampton Terrace

  
  
  

Wicked Tuna

Gonna connect the dots here.  Susan and I LOVE Wicked Tuna - which is a National Geographic Channel reality show featuring the adventures of some very salty tuna fishermen from Gloucester, Massachusetts.   Not guys who drag nets, but guys who catch 800 pound fish with a line and a spear.   Every Sunday night at 9 pm.

Guys who go out every day, 7 days per week during tuna season, to earn enough money to carry them to next year.   And each trip out of the harbor is an investment in time, payroll, fuel and equipment.   They are in the hole unless they score a few giant fish at least.   Fish that bring between $3,000 and $15,000 each, depending on size and quality.  Just getting a fish on the line does not mean a payday.   It seems AT LEAST half the fish they hook either pop the line, drop the hook, or end up being sharks.   I know the show amplifies the personality conflicts between boat captains, but it makes for compelling television.

These guys are real.  They have families. They swear.  They drink beer.  None of them has ever met an "R" in the middle of a word.  They love what they do, although any unbiased observer might conclude the risk and reward are askew.

Now what does this have to do with Hampton Terrace - and more fundamentally - why Susan and I LOVE living in Massachusetts?

Because here in the Berkshires, our lives are populated with guys like this.

I cannot tell you how many times people ask if running an inn is like the old "Newhart Show" where "Dick Loudon" moves to Vermont to run an inn.   The ever-expanding cast of odd Newhartcharacters was fodder for potentially decades of funny episodes. (Larry, Darryl and Darryl)

Susan and I have recently come to the realization that our lives are exactly like this.   We have Bob the painter, Chris the landscaping guy, Wade the plumber, another Bob the heating guy, "Cajun Don" who does small carpentry jobs, another Chris who does larger jobs, chain-smoking Scott and his brother who do major construction for us, Antonia and Jose - our housekeepers since 2006, aided by their children, siblings and cousins as needed...  Curt who delivers milk.  And when I go to the local Ace hardware store:   Rudy, Brian, Jenn, Collette, Kevin.  At the corner gas station:  Big Glenn and Little Glenn.   At the local grocery:  Earl, Leslie and Michael.  And on and on.

Why do we appreciate these "salt of the earth" people so much?  We have a mutual dependency for sure, but just like I know every one of the Wicked Tuna captains and crew would sacrifice everything for a fellow fisherman in need, I feel the same about the cast of characters who support Hampton Terrace.   If the heat goes out in the middle of the night....we have it covered.  Pool pump shorted?   Solved.

I grew up in a place where it mattered whether you were white or black (in every possible scenario).  You either grew up on the right side of Vineville Avenue or the wrong side.  Where did you go to school?   ...which church?   ...which high school sorority or fraternity?  ..old money or new money?   ...which country club?   ...which civic club?

And it is not like I was on the wrong side of the tracks there.   My family has been in Macon since the 1840s, and we DID belong to the country club, etc.  I just hated watching how people acted to those who did not meet their criteria for inclusion.

No such issues here.  Although I know Lenox MUST have a well-hidden clique of some who might worry about such things, I have never been impacted by them.   In 17 years...can't name one.

The wealthiest person in the Berkshires - Jane Fitzpatrick - drove a Ford Escort station wagon and literally never met a stranger.

So when I see Dave, Paul, Tyler, chain-smoking Dave, and the others on Wicked Tuna, I also see Bob, Wade, Chris, Antonia and Jose at Hampton Terrace.   Hard-working, family-oriented locals who are loyal to us, and completely without pretense.   And we try to be loyal to them.

What will be their mood today?   How did the Sox, Patriots, Bruins or Celtics do last night?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Venfort Hall in Lenox. A Berkshires Landmark

  
  
  

Ventfort Hall Lenox

We never want to take for granted that one of America's great mansions is located across the street from Hampton Terrace.

Ventfort Hall is MUCH more than a restored historic home.   A very aggressive schedule of tours, performances, special events, teas, parties, lectures, etc. keeps visitors flowing twelve months a year.   It is the ONLY "Berkshire Cottage" that attempts to stay open through the winter.

Venfort Hall StaircaseBuit as a summer home in 1893 by Sarah Morgan (sister of J.P.) and her husband, George (cousin and business partner with J.P), Ventfort Hall has 28 rooms, which includes 15 bedrooms, 13 bathrooms and 17 fireplaces.  Sarah and J.P. each inherited large estates from their father, and Sarah spent most of hers on this home.  As was the case with many of the great Berkshire estates, Ventfort Hall went through a half-century of alternate uses, including abandonment, until a local not-for-profit was created in 1994 to save the property.   Over the subsequent years, millions have been raised and invested, primarily through the efforts of benefactor Tjasa Sprague, who can still be seen daily, overseeing projects in the mansion.

One of the interesting angles to note, is that Ventfort Hall is a work in progress.   The deterioration was so severe in some areas, that quite a large investment had to be made in "things you do not see," such as the roof, exterior brickwork and foundations, code issues needed to allow occupancy, heating, remediation, etc.   And utimately work has been finished on many of the grand interior spaces, such as the Grand Hall, staircase, dining room, parlors, studies and second floor bedrooms.  

I am proud (Stan Rosen) to have been added to the Board in the early 2000s, and I was asked to Chair the first event held in Ventfort Hall in half a century.   We had to wait until the Building Inspector approved an occupancy of 100, and we planned a party to reintroduce Ventfort Hall to the Lenox community.

We pretended we were George and Sarah Morgan, inviting our friends to see our new summer cottage in 1893.   The entire evening was an authentic throwback, including the music played Ventfort Hall Dinnerby the string quintet in the minstrel gallery, the food served both at the cocktail reception and at the seated dinner, the wines offered, the after-dinner entertainment and cigars...   A wonderful evening, only surpassed by the "White Star Line Party" a year later.  Another story, for sure.

Pardon the ramble down memory lane.  Back to the present:   Ventfort Hall is a MUST-SEE for those visiting the Berkshires and even worth a trip to the area - coupled with several nights at Hampton Terrace.   As a matter of fact, mention you are visiting Hampon Terrace because of Ventfort Hall, and I am likely to offer you a discount.

Berkshire Theatre Group 2014 Summer Season on Sale

  
  
  

Berkshire Theatre Group 2014 Season

We've often spoken of the embarrasment of riches that are The Berkshires.  The Berkshire Theatre Group is a major spoke in the Berkshire wheel - a recent marriage of Berkshire Theatre Festival (established 1928) and the Colonial Theater (built in 1903).

BTF has been presenting Broadway level theater for 86 years, and has featured too many famous actors and actresses to name, in two historic buildings in Stockbridge.  Add to this, the new opportunity to mount performances in the Gilded Age era Colonial - and you can see why so many people are excited when new seasons are announced.   With the addition of the Colonial, Berkshire Theater Group can now program year-round.

Colonial Theater Schedule

But as demonstrated above, BTG does not stop with its own productions, hosting a variety of comedy, music, touring companies and the like to suit all tastes.

Tickets for all performances can be purchased at the Berkshire Theatre Group Website, or by calling

BTF tickets

The Best Berkshire Party of the Year

  
  
  

Vermilion CottilionIn this forum I have often mentioned the IS-183 annual costume "ball" as the best party of the year in the Berkshires.  Start planning for the 2014 version:   The Vermilion Cotillion on April 12th in Lenox.

This primary fundraiser for the area's not-for-profit art school, (children and adult art education) has grown into something whose reputation for insanity cannot be denied.

Susan and I were honored to be named last year's Chairs - and let me tell you how it works:

The party is full costume.   Don't be intimidated because EVERYONE dresses up and no one feels overdressed or underdressed.   A free, open bar halts anyone's concerns in that category.   There are usually 400 to 500 people - and the party floats every year to a different, usually unconventional location.   Last year's party was held in an undeveloped shopping center space.  The year before that....an abandoned gym in the middle of nowhere.   This year - a converted horse barn on one of the Berkshire great estates, Eastover.Stan and Susan Rosen

The Berkshires are known for attracting "creative" types.   Actors.  Artists.  Musicians.   They LOVE this party and the planning committee involves literally many dozens of people.   And THAT is why this party is SO crazy.

Last year, our original party theme started with the premise that there is a "Berkshire Energy Vortex" feeding local creativity.  The "decorating committee" added the twist that such a vortex must somehow involve Flash Gordon-type 50s sci-fi props and costumes.   And then others threw into the mish-mash an "Electric Swing" music theme - which is like Tommy Dorsey with a club beat.  Picture a canvas where the paint brush is passed from person to person until there is no more room on the canvas.   The IS-183 party.

THIS YEAR, the theme is Vermilion Cotillion, which means "RED."   I cannot speculate beyond that for reasons listed above.   The decorating committee meets weekly at this point and the team (which is drinking beer and eating pizza) goes whatever direction it wants until literally the final minute before the party.   The location is Eastover, one of the original great estates in Lenox.   The century-old horse barn, called "Tally Ho" has been hosting parties for many decades, but I dare say it won't see one like this again.   The "dance party" portion (which includes open bar and a silent auction) begins at 8 pm and is only $50/person.   This makes this fundraiser more "inclusive" than otherwise.   But most patrons of the art school will start at 6 pm at $175/person, which includes a full, hosted dinner.   Last year, the dinner was held at the location of the dance.  This year, the dinners will be hosted by restaurants and private individuals all over the Berkshires.  

We TOTALLY endorse this event as a "must do" if you want to get a real sense of the Berkshires.   Fun and unpretentious people.  A great cause.   For information, CLICK ON the IS-183 website, or call 413-298-5252, Ext. 100. 

Buy Tickets Now for Shakespeare & Company 2014 Season

  
  
  

Shakespeare Season resized 600

Located about one block from Hampton Terrace, Shakespeare & Company presents its 2014 Summer Season - celebrating the 450th birthday of The Bard.

Tickets are now on sale through their website, and special packages are also available for Judy Newmanthose who make it a goal to see as many of the summer's offerings as possible.   We have plenty of guests who try to do that, but no one is more committed than Judy Newman, who has stayed here 56 nights since 2007.   Originally referred by the Shakespeare & Company box office, Judy waits until the S&Co. schedule is announced, and then locks in at least three visits per summer.   Judy has been here so many times, we don't even check her in.  She goes right to her room and we see her at breakfast.

Shakespeare & Company scheduleAlthough Judy tends to come on weekends, most of our Shakepeare and Company guests like to come midweek, when they can save up to $70/night at Hampton Terrace, compared to the weekend rates.  We also do not have a midweek minimum, which helps those who cannot stay three nights on the weekends.   This is also true for our guests who are interested in Jacob's Pillow, Williamstown Theater Festival, Berkshire Theater Festival and Barrington Stage Company.

But don't think you are limited to Shakespeare at S&Co.   This talented group of actors can do anything - and they also tackle mysteries, romances, comedies - virtually no limit to their range.  And they have been known to relocate Shakespeare's most iconic works to a different time and space.  After all, where did West Side Story come from?

And here at Hampton Terrace, we are very proud to have hosted many of Shakespeare & Company's most beloved actors:   John Douglas Thompson, Malcolm Ingram, Johnny Lee Davenport, Olympia Dukakis, and more.

Additionally, Hampton Terrace has twice hosted actors and the production team for "Broadway in the Berkshires," a bi-annual fundraiser for the Shakespeare and Company educational activities.   And we have also twice hosted the after-party, which in 2013 featured an impromptu sing-a-long with Academy Award-winning composer, Alan Menken.

Founded by Tina Packer more than 30 years ago, Shakespeare & Company has reached iconic Shakespeare & Company seasonstatus in Lenox, home of the Boston Symphony at Tanglewood.   How proud we are to have such an important attraction literally walking distance from our inn.

Shakespeare & Company programs all year round, but concentrates its most expansive productions during the June through October "season."   During this period, at least four different productions are rotating simultaneously.   And then the entire calendar changes over several more times.

From November through Spring, the company presents other interesting shows - usually not Shakespeare.   They are committed to helping the Berkshires build and sustain a twelve-month tourist season.

 

 

 

 

Hampton Terrace Guest Feedback

  
  
  

Lisa G. found us through a Living Social coupon a couple of years ago.  Since then, she has been back twice with her husband and twice with her mother.  Proof enough that she likes it here.

TripAdvisor RecommendedBut last week, Lisa resigned from a high profile and high stress job in Connecticut, and she called over this past weekend to see if she could stay at Hampton Terrace for three nights this week.  With her husband's blessing, she is enjoying some quiet time before tackling life's next challenge.

This morning at breakfast, Lisa was explaining to me why she considers Hampton Terrace such a respite.   Firstly, she likes how she can park her car in our front driveway and leave it.   A good thing, since last night it was buried under a foot of snow....   She walked a block to Nudel and had dinner at the kitchen counter, talking with Bjorn, the chef.   Today, she said he plans to walk around town, maybe hike a little in Kennedy Park, and grab some lunch at Haven.   Tonight, she says she will try Nudel again, since the menu will be different.

Secondly, she volunteered how comfortable she always feels here.   She has been reading a book in front of the fireplace in the living room.  She said she appreciated how much she feels at home, as opposed to how she would feel reading a book in a hotel lobby.

Finally, she remarked how good our housekeeping is.   Convenient.   Comfortable.   Clean.

I should pay her for creating a new slogan for us.

More Broadway Magic at Hampton Terrace

  
  
  

Alan Menken and the stars of "Broadway In The Berkshires" weren't the only cherished Broadway guests to join us in 2013.

John Douglas Thompson is a frequent Hampton Terrace guest, a close friend, and a Broadway star. He made his Broadway debut as Flavius, opposite Denzel Washington in Julius Caesar in 2005, and later appeared as Le Bret in Cyrano de Bergerac, alongside JenniferStan and John Second Story BWAY13 ESPA 770 Garner and Kevin Kline in 2007.

In 2009, Thompson had a breakout year, playing the title roles in Othello at the Theatre for a New Audience, and The Emperor Jones at the Irish Repertory Theatre. Both performances garnered high critical acclaim, with the New York Times stating: "There may be no better classical actor working in the New York theater right now.”

He received an OBIE Award for his performance in Othello, along with a Lucille Lortel Award for the same performance. The New York Times lavished praise on him, calling him “one of the most compelling classical stage actors of his generation.”

He is currently playing the lead on Broadway in "A Time to Kill," starring alongside Tonya Pinkins - you recognize her name from our previous blog post.

 

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