WILLLIAMSTOWN - We’re not big fans of HGTV, but we confess a weakness for in-person home and garden tours where we can divine how the other half lives. They needn’t be opulent, just interesting. The Berkshires might be best known for its over-the-top “cottages’’ constructed in the boom years before the invention of income tax, but the style clock didn’t stop ticking at Victorian frou-frou. Some of those hill town hideaways are splendid spreads with Modernist sensibilities. That they are framed right now by autumn foliage just adds to their appeal for a weekend escape to Williamstown and nearby towns.
Ask innkeeper Ole Retlev about any of the furniture inside the Guest House at Field Farm
(554 Sloan Road, Williamstown, www.guesthouseatfieldfarm.org
, 413-458-3135; $175-$295), and he’ll cheerfully point out which pieces are Arne Jacobsen, Hans Wegner, or Vladimir Kagan originals - and invite you to have a seat. Built in 1948 for timber fortune heir Lawrence Bloedel and his wife, Eleanor, Field Farm is a living museum of mid-century modern design, with the emphasis on “living.’’ The structures of the Porches Inn
(231 River St., North Adams, www.porches.com
, 413-664-0400; $180-$365) might be more up our alley (or our pedigree, anyway), since the classy post-modern inn was created from workers’ row houses across from the former mill complex that now houses the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. The working class lines, however, are colored in with posh accoutrements.
If you’re planning to hike the trails or take a gander at roadside foliage, swing by the Store at Five Corners
(Rtes. 7 and 43, Williamstown, 413-458-3176, sandwiches $4.50-$7.50; open daily 7 a.m.-6 p.m.) for sandwiches for a picnic. North Adams has good choices for the evening meal. The retro lunch counter in the back signals the casual American style of the Hub
(55 Main St., North Adams, 413-662-2500, entrees $14-$18; open Tues.-Sat. for lunch and dinner, also Sat. for breakfast and Sun. for brunch), with homey food like baked cod, flatiron steak, and meatloaf. If your taste buds crave something more international, it’s hard to beat the paella, fresh vegetable risotto, or cassoulet prepared by Alexander Smith at Gramercy Bistro
(24 Marshall St., North Adams, 413-663-5300, entrees $18-$26, open Wednesday-Monday for dinner).
During the day
After this weekend the Frelinghuysen Morris House & Studio
(92 Hawthorne St., Lenox, 413-637-0166, www.frelinghuysen.org
, open Thursday-Saturday 10 a.m.-3 p.m. through Columbus Day, adults $12, seniors $10.50, students $6) closes for the season. The summer home of well-to-do artists Suzy Frelinghuysen and George L.K. Morris is a striking example of Bauhaus principles adapted to a Berkshires cottage. “This is early Modernism as it was lived,’’ says guide Arline Leven, who points out works by Suzy and George hanging beside canvases by Miró, Picasso, and Juan Gris. Not a bad life. Some of the Sol LeWitt wall drawings at Mass MoCA
(1040 Mass MoCA Way, North Adams, 413-662-2111, www.massmoca.org
, open 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wed.-Mon., adults $15, students $10, ages 5-15 $5) rival the brilliance of fall foliage. While you’re there, pick up the DownStreetArt map of galleries in downtown North Adams storefronts. If you prefer hiking trails to city sidewalks, the 4 miles of footpaths at Field Farm
back in Williamstown (see STAY) are free to the public. Meander through fields and woods and around a picturesque pond favored by migratory waterfowl.
Evening entertainment is slow this time of year, but there’s always a good flick available at Images Cinema
(50 Spring St., Williamstown, movieline 413-458-5612, www.imagescinema.org
, adults $9, seniors, students and matinees $6), where the snack bar serves organic popcorn with real butter. It’s also worth checking the entertainment calendar at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
in North Adams (413-664-8718, www.mcla.edu/presents
, $12-$20, locations vary). Mass MoCA’s
eclectic performance series features the dance troupe Emio Greco/PC this Saturday (tickets $15-$28). Think of it as Guitar Hero meets Mark Morris: The dancers don shiny black electric guitars for “[purgatorio] POPOPERA.’’
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