Lenox was shaped by the Gilded Age and still feels its influence. The ‘Cottages’ still exist, estates of wealthy families in the late 1800s and early 1900s, often from New York, who would come up for a stretch of clear air.

They have evolved now into concerts on the lawn at Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and into museums and gardens — the home of Edith Wharton at The Mount, the Morgan family at Ventfort Hall, or Modern artists and art collectors at the Frelinghuysen Morris House Museum.

Look closer, and the roots of the community show around them. Restaurants partner with local farms. An independent bookstore has been ‘serving the community since last Tuesday’ for more than 40 years. You’ll find families who came to work the marble quarries and glass factories, volunteers reviving the historic railway and birders walking through Pleasant Valley.

In the 1970s, a group of young actors formed a resident company at the Mount — they lived there, performed there and adapted Wharton’s stories into one-acts in the parlor. They set up the restoration of her house and moved across town, and Shakespeare & Company still performs classics and contemporary works in summer and fall.

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Tanglewood

Tanglewood has been the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra since 1938. Berkshire music lovers began a concert series in the 1930s, and it has expanded with popular music in early and late summer, folk and rock, comedy and jazz, and now with the Tanglewood Learning Institute.

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Berkshire Scenic Railway

The Berkshire Scenic Railway has restored the old Lenox Station to the way it looked in 1903. Today, it is on the National Register of Historic Places, and travelers can take a guided tour of the station and its historic railroad equipment and ride a Jitney on the museum grounds, even in the cab of the locomotive.

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Chocolate Springs

Joshua Needleman makes his own chocolate from scratch in Lenox. Dark chocolate caramelized hazlenuts. Melting bars of ganache flavored with raspberry or spice. His Chocolate Springs is half kitchen and half alchemy, a wizard’s lair. And it is also a café. You can find assorted chocolates to take home in whimsical flavors and shapes, or sample them over a cup of coffee.

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Lenox

Downtown Lenox has a flavor of old New England and contemporary art. Italian families worked Berkshire marble here not long ago, and a young black photographer left home to make his name in the Harlem Renaissance. And glimmering New York families came hear in early fall.

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Pleasant Valley

Mass Audubon, the statewide conservation nonprofit, protects four wildlife sanctuaries in the Central and Southern Berkshires. At Pleasant Valley in Lenox, their local headquarters lead into a boardwalk around a beaver pond and trails climb the slopes of Lenox Mountain.

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Shakespeare & Company

In 1978, a company of young actors settled in Lenox in a Gilded Age mansion that had run to seed. They lived and performed there together as a close-knit ensemble under the artistic eye of Tina Packer. In those relaxed times they could perform A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the […]

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The Mount

Edith Wharton, the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize, wrote many of her best-known novels in this house, in the 10 years she lived in Lenox — from The House of Mirth to Ethan Frome. Her house is now a museum, a center of writing, music and performance, landscape and gardens, dedicated to keeping her spirit alive.

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Ventfort Hall

Venfort Hall was built as one of the Berkshire ‘Cottages,’ some 75 mansions where the scions of new York and Boston would come in summer and fall to escape the city. Today it holds the Museum of the Gilded Age — America in the 1870s to 1900.

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WordxWord

WordxWord gathers writers to perform their own work live in the Berkshires. They come into coffee shops and museums, and compete in poetry and story slams, picking up the mic without a script. They hold events year-round and a weeklong festival through downtown Pittsfield in August.

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