The Mount: Edith Wharton and the American Renaissance






 

Kay Davis
University of Virginia
© 2001-2003

E-Mail

The Mount > Interior > Grounds > Gardens

Interior

Edith Wharton and Odgen Codman resumed their working relationship in 1901, when Wharton hired Codman to design the interior of The Mount. Their design plans followed the principles outlined in The Decoration of Houses.

The Mount reflected Wharton's own design philosophies. An article in Lenox Life reported:

"The artistic cottage on the shores of Laurel Lake ... was built from plans inspired by Mrs. Wharton...This will be one of the houses whose furnishings reflect the character and taste of its owner, and not that of any upholstery firm, no matter how artistic." (41)
Forecourt
The forecourt, designed by Hoppin & Koen in 1901, separates the drive from the house and the rest of the estate.


Forecourt
Forecourt

Ground Floor
The entrance to the house is on the ground floor.

Vestibule
The forecourt leads inside to an entrance vestibule with a barrel-vaulted ceiling. The vestibule resembles a grotto, like those Wharton had observed in Italian Renaissance villas and gardens. The floor has terra-cotta tiles with Italian marble moldings.

Servants' Areas

Completing the ground floor is the kitchen, the laundry, and the servants' work areas.


Main Floor
An enclosed staircase leads to the main-floor reception rooms. The main floor has a gallery on the west side and a drawing room, dining room, and library on the east side, each connected by double doors. These rooms open through French doors onto a terrace with views of the gardens and the landscape beyond.
Terrace
The Italianate terrace stretches across the east side of the house and around the north side and part of the south side. The terrace had a striped awning in the summer that extended across the middle of the east side of the house. Two classical statues stood at the top of the Palladian staircase leading to the garden.
Gallery
The gallery on the main floor has a barrel-vaulted ceiling and a marble terrazzo floor. The arched windows and doors create symmetry. Chandeliers lit the gallery, according to the principles outlined in The Decoration of Houses.

Gallery
Gallery
Den
The den continues the symmetrical arrangement of the house. In the center of the wall is a fireplace, the centerpiece of every room, according to Wharton and Codman.

A concealed door leads from the den to the library. Wharton brought some of her furniture from Land's End for the den and other principal rooms.


Library
The library, connected to the gallery and den, has double doors that open into the drawing room. A fireplace is in the center of the south wall.

The oak-paneled room has oak bookshelves built into the walls, as Wharton and Codman recommended in The Decoration of Houses.
The library has a tapestry with a garden scene fitted into the wall panel.

The furniture formed a backdrop to the library, as Wharton and Codman recommended:
"The tables should be large, substantial, and clear of everything but lamps, books, and papers—one table at least being given over to the filing of books and newspapers." (39)

Library
Library

Drawing Room
The drawing room is the largest room in the house. The terrazzo floor of the gallery extends into it. Three sets of French doors open onto the terrace. The ceiling displayed Codman's flower and fruit decoration.

The dining room includes French and Italian furniture as well as a Beauvais tapestry of "Narcissus at the Fountain." (40)


Drawing Room
Drawing Room

Bedroom and Attic Floors
The bedroom floor contains Wharton's boudoir, bath, and bedroom; and her husband's bedroom, dressing room, and bath. Her bedroom has a wood floor and a marble fireplace. The boudoir has eight paintings of flower arrangements. The servants' quarters are on the attic floor.

Boudoir
Boudoir

Wharton's Sacred Space
The Mount's layout followed Wharton and Codman's suggestions in The Decoration of Houses for the separation of public and private rooms.

On the northeast end of the house, the basement is unexcavated. Above that is Wharton's library. Above the library is Wharton's bedroom, where she wrote in the mornings. This layout ensured that Wharton's morning writing routine would not be disturbed.

The Mount reflected Wharton's own design philosophies. An article in Lenox Life reported:

"The artistic cottage on the shores of Laurel Lake ... was built from plans inspired by Mrs. Wharton...This will be one of the houses whose furnishings reflect the character and taste of its owner, and not that of any upholstery firm, no matter how artistic." (41)
Notes | Credits | Site Map |Feedback | Home