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Field Farm: Modernist Lodging Meets Nature in the Berkshires

Field Farm: Modernist Lodging Meets Nature in the Berkshires

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Learn more about The Guesthouse at Field Farm in Williamstown.

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Jane Roy Brown is a writer and member of The Trustees who lives in the Highlands.

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of Special Places, The Trustees' member magazine. To subscribe, join The Trustees today.


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From the top of this low hill in Williamstown, mown fields sweep to the gradual slopes of Mt. Greylock. Its silhouette dominates the horizon, absorbing the deepening blues and purples of the sky as evening settles in.

By Jane Roy Brown

The panorama, though stunning, is not unusual in this northwestern corner of the state, where eighteenth-century towns hug the slopes of the Berkshire Mountains to the east and the Taconics to the west.

More surprising is the mid-century modern house standing on this vantage point. Though built of wood and painted a discreet taupe, the flat-roofed, two-story building with metal railings wrapping the second-floor balconies would not be mistaken for one of the neighboring New England farmhouses. Massachusetts architect Edwin Goodell designed it in 1948 for Lawrence Bloedel, heir to a Pacific Northwest timber fortune, and his wife, Eleanore.

For several years The Trustees have operated a bed-and-breakfast in the Bloedels’ former residence, the Guest House at Field Farm, which offers one of the country’s most rarified lodging experiences. With just six guest rooms, it isn’t the building’s size that wows visitors, but the chance to mingle with the Bloedels’ exceptional collections of mid-century modern art and furniture: pieces designed by Vladimir Kagan, Charles and Ray Eames, Isamu Noguchi, Eileen Gray, and other high-style designers of the period. Original sculpture by Herbert Ferber, Richard M. Miller, and other notable twentieth century artists stands in a garden outside the living room.

Then, tucked farther downhill near a beaver pond, there is The Folly, a more flamboyant building with two glass-fronted wings sprouting from a central shingled cylinder. Designed in 1965 as a guest cottage for the Bloedels by New York architect Ulrich Franzen, The Folly is now hailed as a modernist masterpiece that captures the space-age aesthetic of its day. It’s easy to picture the Jetsons, television’s futuristic cartoon family of the 1960s, perfectly at home in this silo-inspired nest of circular forms, pop-art colors, and built-in furniture. Now one of New England’s youngest historic house museums, The Folly is open for tours.

These two buildings and their collections form the cultural centerpiece of Field Farm, 316 acres of farm fields and pastures, woods, and wetlands. Together, these cultural and natural resources make up one of The Trustees’ most unusual properties, where agriculture, ecological conservation, and historic preservation allow visitors to engage with it in a variety of ways. “Guests are completely in awe that they can stay in a beautifully preserved, mid-twentieth-century residence furnished with masterpieces by iconic mid-century designers and artists,” says West Region Director Joanna Ballantine. “But they also experience a meaningful connection to an extraordinary natural environment.” She adds that about 50 acres of this land are still farmed to maintain the continuity with the neighboring landscape. “It’s a unique lodging experience, one that guests find deeply restorative,” she says.

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Learn More

Learn more about The Guesthouse at Field Farm in Williamstown.

Stay with us >>

Jane Roy Brown is a writer and member of The Trustees who lives in the Highlands.

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of Special Places, The Trustees' member magazine. To subscribe, join The Trustees today.


Join Us
Donate
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