The Mount: Edith Wharton and the American Renaissance


Kay Davis
University of Virginia
© 2001-2003


Edith Wharton > Wharton's Homes > Ogden Codman Jr. > The Decoration of Houses >
Life in the Berkshires

Wharton's Homes

Edith Wharton lived in several homes and locations throughout her life. Each of these homes strongly influenced her life and career.

14 West Twenty-Third Street, New York
Wharton spent her childhood in an Italianate brownstone containing rooms with stuffed furniture and heavy drapes.

In her article, "A Little Girl's New York," Wharton recalled that heavy drapes were a necessity in every fashionable house then:

They were in fact almost purely a symbol, for in many windows even the inner "sash-curtains" were looped back far enough to give the secluded dwellers a narrow glimpse of the street; but no self-respecting mistress of a house (a brownstone house) could dispense with this triple display of window-lingerie, and among the many things I did which pained and scandalized my Bostonian mother-in-law, she was not least shocked by the banishment from our house in the country of all the thicknesses of muslin which should have intervened between ourselves and the robins on the lawn. (25)

Pencraig Cottage, Newport

Shortly after her marriage to Teddy Wharton, she moved out of Pencraig, her mother's Newport, Rhode Island, home, across the street to Pencraig Cottage. There she began to design interiors that suited her own tastes.

Pencraig Cottage
Pencraig Cottage, Newport

Pencraig Cottage Drawing Room
Pencraig Cottage Drawing Room

882-884 Park Avenue, New York
Wharton hired Ogden Codman Jr. to design the rooms of her New York City townhouse at 882-884 Park Avenue.

Land's End, Newport
In 1892 Wharton purchased Land's End, an oceanfront summer home in Newport. She hired Ogden Codman Jr. to redesign the interior and create a formal garden between the house and the ocean.

lands end
Land's End, Newport

Codman painted the walls a bright color and furnished the rooms with Italian furniture. The circular garden contained a statue in a trellis niche.

Glass Verandah at Land's End

The interiors of these early homes displayed Wharton's evolving design philosophies. Damask wall coverings, bookcases, and draperies would soon give way to a more streamlined, classical decoration at The Mount.

Notes | Credits | Site Map |Feedback | Home