Real Estate

Vanderbilt mansion in Berkshires sells for $8 million

The estate is so big that it spans two towns.

A view of a red-roofed Berkshires mansion with a myriad of rooflines and turrets. The walls are white, and the Berkshires hills are visible in the background.
The Berkshires mansion has 106 rooms and sits on 89 acres. Elm Court Archives

In the late 1800s, the Berkshires was a prime spot for the Gilded Age wealthy to show off their money by building giant mansions, or “summer cottages” as society’s upper crust called them. Many have been lost to fire or demolished as impractical for a family to manage and finance.

One of the biggest and best — “Elm Court” — just sold for $8 million to real estate investor-and-developer Linda Law, who is restoring the home and may transform it into a luxury resort, reported Monday. Resort possibilities include 112 guestrooms, a 15,000-square-foot spa, and a 60-seat restaurant.


The mansion, which Peabody & Stearns designed, includes 40 acres of gardens by Frederick Law Olmsted, well known for his work on New York’s Central Park and Boston’s Emerald Necklace. It is about the same size as the White House, with 55,000 square feet of living space and 106 rooms, making it one of the largest Shingle-style homes in the United States. A less ornate style than the Vanderbilt family’s more-famous Biltmore House in North Carolina, the 89-acre estate is so big that it spans two towns: Stockbridge and Lenox.

A marble fireplace in a grand room of a Berkshires mansion with crown and picture frame molding. The flooring is herringbone.
A grand marble fireplace holds center court. The mansion has been mostly renovated. – Tricia McCormack

Elm Court’s Shingle style evolved from America’s New England architectural movement of the late 1800s, modeled after Colonial American architecture. The home, which is registered as a National Historic Landmark, got its name from a large elm tree that stood at the entrance to the mansion, but later succumbed to disease. A host to some of the world’s most important business and political leaders, Elm Court was the meeting site for the Elm Court Talks in 1919, which led to the creation of the Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations.

A sepia-toned photo of the Berkshires mansion as it looked in 1886.
A view of the Berkshires mansion in 1886. – Elm Court Archives

In an effort to keep up with the high costs of running the large property after the original owners died, their children turned it into an inn in the late 1940s. During the 1950s, it hosted events, dinners, and overnight guests.

A rate card from 1949 that shows it cost at least $15 for a double-occupancy room with a private bath.
A rate card from 1949 that shows it cost at least $15 for a double-occupancy room with a private bath. – Elm Court Archives

Elm Court closed its doors and was boarded up until 1999 when descendants of Emily Vanderbilt began to renovate the estate. It operated for a few years in the early 2000s as a wedding-event space but then closed again.

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Much of the renovation of Elm Court has been finished, with the main living areas and 13 bedrooms completed. The original details — such as the intricately carved-plaster ceiling in the dining room, the herringbone-wood floors, and the fireplaces — have been preserved and a new kitchen installed. There is a large mahogany butler’s pantry with a charming window seat and room for casual dining.


The grounds contain more buildings, including the butler’s house, gardener’s cottage, and multiple long greenhouses with one large enough to grow fruit trees. There is a caretaker’s house, carriage house and stable, and two barns.

According to a press release from Law, “Collectively, we have done a tremendous amount of research on the architecture and design of the Gilded Age and the history of the Vanderbilt family, and we feel a tremendous responsibility to pay homage to its legendary past,” Law said in a news release. “Equally as important, we will pay the utmost attention to the historical importance of Elm Court as its own entity, as well as its position and prominence in the Lenox and Stockbridge communities.”

The property hit the market in 2020 for $12,900,000.


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