Elna Nugent

POSTED 01/18/2015 12:26:38 PM EDT

To the editor:

There seem to be many facets to this ever-present Elm Court issue that are still gnawing hard at Lenox and Stockbridge.

Stockbridge can gain from this "new Elm Court plan" but so can Lenox. But Lenox may have quite a lot to lose as well — unless.

When Canyon Ranch bought the former Bellefontaine estate and moved into Lenox, expanding it facilities, many feared its effect on Lenox utilities and capacity to serve its requirements. Yet Canyon Ranch offered much and became a valued presence in the community in so many ways.

The same could be said for Kripalu, formerly the Shadowbrook estate, which is now well known nationally as a highly respected premier yoga center. How lucky we are. I get inspired by people taking something old and making something new of it that serves the public in more ways than the original private use of a building.

Some Lenoxites were nervous about Bishop Estates bringing in so many new residential houses so close to unique little downtown Lenox. All that angst seems amusing now that this area is so quietly and tastefully in place, serving its deserving families.

Lest we forget, Elm Court is the Vanderbilt/Sloane estate that is now considered to be the largest shingle style house in America. In 1887 it was operating as a private hotel. Online, you can see how this remarkable place has been restored. Please Google it. Just write in "Big old houses: Another rescue story."

Artistic beauty and careful craftsmanship need no explanation for being. I was born during the Great Depression. These huge houses were built way before taxes were imposed in 1913. We probably need some kind of response or ceiling today to what is happening in the US, but that doesn't mean we can't cherish history, workmanship, architectural beauty and longevity wherever it is found.

Having lived in Lenox since the early 1960s, our family actually considered a house for sale across from the old Elm Court greenhouses. We have seen Lenox town officers judiciously and strenuously seek to preserve the natural and historical elements that brought many people to visit here in the first place. Lenox is still Lenox. Recycling the past shows us an energy and history that new buildings take generations to achieve, if ever.

Whatever happens, I hope and pray that Elm Court owners will be unceasingly sensitive to neighbor's wishes. I also hope and pray that the understandably concerned neighbors can possibly find a way to appreciate this inspiring landmark of Berkshire history that still exists. Imagine it. Elm Court, alive and breathing, with many people actually able to stay in it, make use of it, enjoy and appreciate the Berkshires. Can we say the same for our own homes and dwellings?

Elna Nugent