Step back in time at Naumkeag, a picturesque, Gilded Age, summer “cottage” in Stockbridge, MA. The historic country estate of the Choate family is famous for its terraced gardens, meticulously landscaped grounds, and magnificent architectural details.
The Berkshires are home to a number of fascinating historic homes and estates but none are quite like Naumkeag.
The richly landscaped estate, with its stately, 44-room mansion, was built in 1885 for New York City attorney, Joseph Hodges Choate (1832–1917). Joseph passed the estate to his daughter, Mabel Choate, in 1929.
While the property was already a quintessential, Gilded Age country estate when Mabel inherited it, she had even greater visions. Enlisting the expertise of landscape architect Fletcher Steele, Mabel transformed Naumkeag into something even more spectacular.
Steele, one of America’s very first Modernist landscape architects, collaborated on the property with Choate between 1929 and 1956. Their updates included a variety of theme gardens, fountains, and such iconic additions as the Moon Gate and the unforgettable Blue Steps.
At her death in 1958, Mabel bequeathed the property in its entirety to The Trustees of Reservations. The Trustees have managed the estate ever since, including a major restoration project that completed in 2016.
A Gilded Age Gem
The “cottage” at Naumkeg is an architectural marvel, with brick and stone towers, ornate detailing, and a hand-carved, three-story, oak staircase. Original, late 19th century furnishings, art, and antiques collected by the Choates fill the home.
The house is surrounded by 8 acres of landscaped grounds, including a tennis court, fountains, and an orchard. The stars, however, are the stunning, themed gardens. There is an Afternoon Garden, an Evergreen Garden, Chinese Garden, Arborvitae Walk, the Tree Peony Terrace, and Linden Walk.
The most famous landscape feature, however, has to be the Blue Steps. This is a series of four sets of stairs, with fountains, climbing a gentle hillside. A small forest of birch trees surrounds and overhangs the stairs. The overall effect is one of fairy wonder. You half expect a wizard or elfin princess to appear!
Naumkeag’s gorgeously sculpted grounds are surrounded by 40 acres of woodland, meadow, and pasture. Visitors to the estate will enjoy panoramic views of Monument Mountain and the Housatonic River Valley.
The grounds also include a gift shop stocked with unique items, and a cafe so you can enjoy a drink or snack to along with the views.
5 Prospect Hill Road, Stockbridge, MA 01262
Naumkeag is just a little over 5 minutes drive from our Stockbridge bed and breakfast, The Inn at Stockbridge.
The grounds are open seasonally, from 10am to 4pm, Thursday through Sunday. Visitors may go on self-guided tours of the estate or sign up for guided tours with a knowledgeable docent. Neither the house or ground are wheelchair accessible.