The Red Lion Inn: The Heart of Stockbridge, Mass

Norman Rockwell's famous painting of his home of Stockbridge Massachusetts shows the Red Lion inn at the far right.
Norman Rockwell's famous painting of his home of Stockbridge Massachusetts shows the Red Lion Inn at the far right.

The Red Lion Proudly Serves as the favorite gathering place for locals and tourists in Stockbridge

By Max Hartshorne
GoNOMAD Editor

Harpist at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Mass.
Harpist at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Mass.

For more than a few decades, I've driven by the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge and each time, the porch is buzzing with activity and the inside is full of travelers and locals.

Hugo, the Red Lion's resident kitty.
Norman, the Red Lion's resident kitty.

That famous front porch is now a place to hear music; the Inn began a program that brought live musicians such as harpist and Boston University Tanglewood Institute faculty member Franzika Huhn.  Huhn as well as other musicians graced the porch on summer evenings and brought a special ambiance to this special gathering place.

Circa 1773

The grand Lion was built way back in 1773 as a tavern, and in 1968, when it was threatened to be replaced by a gas station, a local family bought the inn and its been in their hands ever since.

The Red Lion is comprised of a very large main building dating back to 1773, and many other buildings behind it, with a tempting pool and jacuzzi nearby.

The rooms are decorated with antiques and are not at all the cookie-cutter designs you see at chain hotels.  The Red Lion is one of a kind!

The Red Lion Inn, dressed up for Christmas, in Stockbridge, Mass. Red Lion Inn photo.
The Red Lion Inn, dressed up for Christmas, in Stockbridge, Mass. Red Lion Inn photo.

We stayed in the Maple Glen building that has a common room as well as very spacious rooms. There are also Village Houses, smaller units nearby and the Main Inn.

Pop-up Music and More

There are exciting new ideas being bantered about for more pop-up concerts, pop-up wine tastings and even bikes for guests.  Red Lion will soon have its own fleet of bicycles and is working on setting up a cycling package that may involve different rail trails in Western Massachusetts.

"There's also the hiking and kayaking demographic from the metro areas who want to experience culture and nature," Robert Mickey, the hotel's GM said. "We're working together where we can put together a package where we can do all of that," Mickey told the Berkshire Eagle.

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Red Lion Inn
30 Main St
Stockbridge, MA 01262
Phone: (413) 298-5545
www.redlioninn.com

Attractions Around Stockbridge Massachusetts

Norman's Home

Rows of Saturday Evening Post covers painted by Norman Rockwell at his museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Max Hartshorne photos.
Rows of Saturday Evening Post covers painted by Norman Rockwell at his museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Max Hartshorne photos.

Norman Rockwell was very connected to Stockbridge and painted here.  He immortalized the Red Lion with his painting, "Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas," which he painted in 1967.  Rockwell lived in town from 1953 until his death in 1978 at age 8

His museum is a gem for anyone who loves the painter's corny yet appealing depictions of all the events of his day.

Not only can you see the gallery of 321 Saturday Evening Post covers he painted,  you can visit his studio that was moved from the center of town and gives a great picture of how he worked.

The modern and airy museum, built in 1993, holds 700 of Rockwell's paintings and the studio was moved to the bucolic site from the center of town.  Illustrators around the world heap praise on Rockwell.

"Our Babe Ruth is and always will be Norman Rockwell," said illustrator C.F. Payne, speaking to the importance of NR as the standard of excellence for American illustrators. The museum is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm May through October and 10-4 from November - April.  website

Edith's Mount

The Mount, built in 1902, was Edith Wharton's home for decades, and where she wrote most of her famous novels.
The Mount, built in 1902, was Edith Wharton's home for decades, and where she wrote most of her famous novels.

A famous writer and her almost as famous house is how you could describe The Mount, which was the home of writer Edith Wharton and her husband during the early part of the 19th century.

Wharton, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, designed the Mount and had it built in 1902 as a country retreat for her and her husband, Teddy Wharton.

The house is famously comfortable, so much that it attracted a top-tier list of big shot writers like Henry James, Walter Berry and many others.

The entranceway where everyone waited to go upstairs and see Edith and Teddy at The Mount.
The entranceway where everyone waited to go upstairs and see Edith and Teddy at The Mount.

The house and grounds are the perfect setting for a picnic, or just a stroll among the tall trees, manicured English gardens and sweeping views.

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Today a tour of the elegantly restored estate brings you toe to toe with stories about the grand dame, who wrote her iconic novels like Ethan Frome and The Buccaneers, as she lay in bed, tossing the written pages down to a waiting assistant who would type them up.

Visit the Mount seven days a week. Find it at 2 Plunkett St, Lenox, Mass. www.edithwharton.org

Naumkeag Music

Naukeag is the former summer home of a wealthy family and today it's the location of a music series in their gardens that brings locals and visitors to enjoy the green space and sweeping views. Rachael McGrath photo.
Naukeag is the former summer home of a wealthy family and today it's the location of a music series in their gardens that brings locals and visitors to enjoy the green space and sweeping views. Rachael McGrath photo.

Another mansion you can visit in the lovely Berkshires was once the summer home of the Joseph Choate family, called Naumkeag, on Prospect Hill Road in Stockbridge.

The 44-room mansion was designed by famous NY architect Stanford White, and it's the centerpiece for a series of summer concerts on the lawn as the sun sets in the west.  Today the lovely property is run by the Trustees of Reservations as a park and historic area.

Visitors can enjoy yoga, mindfulness and meditation classes in the garden, summer music concerts on the lawn, hiking with goats, (a slow-going, goat-guided hike!), horse-drawn wagon rides and gardening classes. You can also learn to make cocktails at Naukeag!

Though primarily a summer attraction, you can tour the mansion and the grounds all year long.  Schedule of Events at Naumkeag

Listening to a folk concert on the lawn at Naukeag, in Stockbridge, Mass.
Listening to a folk concert on the lawn at Naumkeag, in Stockbridge, Mass.
Max Hartshorne

Max Hartshorne has been the editor and publisher of GoNOMAD Travel in South Deerfield Mass since 2002. He worked for newspapers and other sales positions for 23 years until he finally got what he wanted, and became the editor at GoNOMAD. He travels regularly, enjoys publishing new writers, and watching his grandchildren grow up.