Wearied urbanites and other stressed-out souls, dreamers and art-lovers too, make a beeline for the northern Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, where, to put a twist on the old “not your father’s” riff, this remarkable rural retreat definitely is your grandfather’s home—and one of the most soothing sanctuaries anywhere.
Back from World War II, Lawrence Bloedel and his wife Eleanore purchased the historic Nathan Field farm just south of Williamstown and Bloedel’s alma mater (mine too), Williams College. Desiring to build a home on the farm, the Class of ’23 graduate, who had served as the college’s librarian while developing into an art expert and avid designer, first consulted with legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
The men clashed on the concept, however, causing Bloedel, who envisioned both a residence and home for his art and furnishings, to turn to another architect, Edwin Goodell. Completed in 1948, their collaboration produced a Bauhaus-inspired classic that has literally stood the test of time. Save a few technical upgrades, the Bloedels’ museum-quality home is preserved intact.
In 1984, the estate was given to Massachusetts’ Trustees of Reservations (the world’s oldest land trust, from 1891), which transformed it into a six-room B&B in 1987. At the national landmark Five Corners intersection of Routes 43 and 7, chase Sloan Road uphill past working dairy farms to the property’s short driveway. The house initially deceives the eye, presenting compelling Modernist lines but a seemingly modest scale. Ring the bell, though, and unobtrusively welcoming innkeeper Ole Retlev will admit you into a remarkable multi-dimensional space.
Honey, We’re Home
The time capsule stillness of the foyer serves as an arresting pause before the amazement of entering the living room—where nearly every piece of Modernist furniture is original to the house. The Bloedels’ artwork, meanwhile, was relocated to the Williams College Museum of Art and The Whitney years ago, but is still loaned back to the house. The effect is like walking onto a movie set, only this is the real deal.
I felt transported back to my grandparents’ 1940’s home in Arcadia, California, fully expecting them to materialize in the bargain.
Mesmerizing, too, are the big picture windows, framing a foreground view of the landscaped gardens and pond, and in the distance, 3,491-foot Mount Greylock, Massachusetts’ highest peak. The room is adjoined by the breakfast area and kitchen, with a fridge for guest use.
With its own picture window looking out on one of the property’s 12 outdoor sculptures, our ground-floor bedroom provided warmly satisfying sanctuary. With an outdoor balcony facing Greylock, the prize accommodation is the upstairs master suite. If you must plug in, there’s WiFi throughout and a small TV in the marvelous library, but the Guest House is for disconnecting. It’s also adults-only, providing a healthy break from the kids. Breakfast include self-serve coffee, yogurt, fruit and breads, with a la carte options.
Set on 316 conserved acres, the property offers four miles of hiking trails that circulate around the pond, forested areas and sweeping fields, with caves on one loop. There’s an outdoor pool, and Adirondack chairs for losing yourself in the majesty of Mount Greylock and surrounding Taconic Range. Also on the property is the post-Modernist Folly, a structure added in 1965 and currently under renovation. At the top of Sloan Road, Cricket Creek Farm is renowned for its cheese, and offers tours and monthly classes, plus farm store.
Open from the first weekend in April through December 31st (weekends only in December, closed Christmas Eve and Day), the Guest House is your gateway to total peace and rejuvenation.
Starting room rates range from $195 to $325 for double occupancy, and include full breakfast. All weekend stays require two-day minimum.
554 Sloan Road
Williamstown, MA 01267
Tel.: (413) 458-3135