Sunday, October 27, 2013

Fall in the Berkshires - Steepletop

About a year ago at this time I took a spontaneous road trip to Pittsfield MA to check out the Pine Cone Hill Outlet and was rewarded with beautiful linens at bargain prices (you can read about that adventure HERE).  One of my blog readers was kind enough to leave me a comment about a special tent sale they have every Columbus Day weekend.  

Now you must know by now I would not be able to pass this by.  

So after spending a week here

On top of the world thanks to a Pink Jeep Tour in
Sedona AZ

I got home just in time to hop in my car and meet up with one of my pals and hit the tent sale which was absolutely fabulous (I will be going back next year!) and then visit Edna St Vincent Millay’s house in Austerlitz NY.

Edna St Vincent Millay was a Pulitzer Prize winning poet who spent much of her childhood in Camden Maine (as did I) and spent a bit of time in Union Maine (as did I) she also lived in Massachusetts for a time (as do I) and upstate New York (as did I).  She also lived in Paris (as did I…oh wait a minute that was only a dream for me).  Born in 1892 she was just a little older than my great-grandmother so her life really brings images of the stories my grandmother used to tell us when we were kids.

This summer my reading list included the Nancy Milford biography of Ms. Millay, Savage Beauty. Although she was very famous and from the very small town in Maine I lived, I knew amazingly little about her so it was particularly fascinating for me to read about her.

I can’t say enough good things about the biography.  Nancy Milford really did a stellar job at painting the picture of the enigmatic, complicated, beautiful, tortured poet who went by Vincent.  Pick it up, you won’t regret it.

Ok, back to my Berkshires visit.  Vincent & her husband Eugen Boissevain bought Steepletop in 1925 and both lived there until their deaths – hers a year after his.  It was a blueberry farm that they bought from a New York Times ad and renovated to look like a New England farm house.  

The pool bar...lots of friends gathered
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The pool - #1 rule was no clothes...ever.
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The pool now...needs a little preservation work

They lived here as bohemians with much love, life & hard work.  They lived self-sufficiently not even having electricity until the 1940’s.  

Ladies Home Journal put a state of the art kitchen for Vincent in 1949 to feature in their magazine
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After both Eugen & Vincent’s deaths Vincent’s sister Norma lived at Steepletop carefully preserving the house, living around Vincent’s possessions for decades until Norma’s death in the 1980’s.  Steepletop didn’t open to the public until 2010.  

Vincent's one was allowed in this room but Vincent...Ever.
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The really great thing about this house is it is filled with Vincent & Eugen’s actual possessions many of which are in the exact same spot as they were when Vincent died in 1950.  Amazing and there is such a sense of Edna that remains in this house.  You can really feel her work and life here.

To add to the pleasure of the day it’s Fall in New England…what can be better? 


  1. That is a hobby of mine to visit the homes of authors I love. I thoroughly enjoyed every word, every photo of this post! You did a wonderful job of taking us all with you on this trip!

  2. Thanks for sharing her home. I love to visit author's homes. I love the library, the quaint kitchen, and the setting.

    It looks like you had fun in Sedona. I just did a post on it too, but I live not too far from it.

  3. What a lovely setting and home. Thanks for the tour and Thanks tons for linking to Inspire Me. Hugs, Marty

  4. Guess I need to go on a field trip. What an interesting woman and so was her house!


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