Take a trip to the Colonial-era Berkshires when you visit The Mission House in Stockbridge, MA. The National Historic Landmark and oldest house in Stockbridge has deep connections to the local Mohican tribe.
The Berkshires are home to quite a few fascinating and historic house museums to visit: Arrowhead, Naumkeag, Chesterwood, The Mount, Ventfort Hall, and many others.
While Stockbridge’s The Mission House may not be quite as large, ornate, or as famous as all of these, it is far older and provides a unique window into Colonial-era Stockbridge.
History of The Mission House
John Sergeant built the Mission House in the early-mid 1700’s while serving as missionary to the local Mohican tribe.
Sergeant, a Yale educated missionary, moved to what is now the Stockbridge area in the 1730’s to establish a village with the local Mohicans. Prior to the arrival of European colonists, Massachusetts’ southern Berkshire County was populated by various Mohican tribes. Sergeant lived in a simple cabin among the Mohicans until 1739.
John Sergeant married Abigail Williams in 1739 and the two decided they needed another, more family-suitable home outside the Mohican village. Sergeant set to constructing this new, Georgian-style home on Prospect Hill overlooking the village: The Mission House.
Sergeant lived here with his family until his death in 1791. The house remained in the family until 1879, then fell into neglect. Had it not been for Mable Choate, owner of the neighboring Naumkeag estate, the house would likely have been lost.
Choate, dismayed by the house’s condition, purchased it in 1926. She then had it carefully moved it Main Street, with the help of renowned landscape designer Fletcher Steele, for its new life as The Mission House Museum.
The Mission House Museum
The Mission House is located at 19 Main Street in Stockbridge, less than five minutes from the door of our Berkshires bed and breakfast The Inn at Stockbridge.
The museum includes the two-story, Georgian-style home and several outbuildings, most of which date from the 1920’s move and restoration. The house, itself, follows the standard Georgian center-hall plan. One deviation Sergeant added is a side door for visiting Mohicans. The home’s well-preserved, front door pediment is particularly striking.
Landscaper Fletcher Steele’s influence is most in evidence in the gardens that surround the house. Mission House gardens were influenced by George Washington’s Mount Vernon and include the Dooryard Garden, Orchard Garden, Well Courtyard, and East Lawn. Each reflects Fletcher Steele’s vision of what a colonial garden should be.
Outbuildings include a small one-room visitor center and the barn-like caretaker’s apartment. There’s also a small, Mohican museum dedicated to the native peoples of the Stockbridge area. Inside you’ll find Mohican artifacts collected by Mabel Choate, as well as stories and lore from modern Mohicans.
Visitors can enjoy self guided tours of the house and museum year round. Guided tours are also available and may be reserved during the summer months: (413) 298-3239. Learn more at the museum website.
More Historic Homes
As I say at the top, the Berkshires have numerous historic houses you can visit. Best of all, many are within very easy driving distance of The Inn at Stockbridge.
In fact, The Inn at Stockbridge is a historic home. Our classic, Georgian-style mansion was built in 1906, while the land it is on dates back to 1739 and one of Stockbridge’s original settler families.
So what are you waiting for? Come visit historic homes while staying in one with a Berkshires getaway at The Inn at Stockbridge!