Linda W. Jackson 

July 31, 2014 

Board of Selectmen 
Town of Stockbridge
Town Offices
50 Main Street 
Stockbridge, Massachusetts 01262 

Re: Elm Court. 310 Old Stockbridge Road, Stockbridge 

To the Honorable Board of Selectmen: 

The Stockbridge Historical Commission (SHC) respectfully submits this letter in regard to the the Cottage Era Estate located at 310 Old Stockbridge Road known as Elm Court. We understand that the Selectmen are in the process of considering an application for a special permit regarding Elm Court that, if wanted, would enable the preservation of the Elm Court main house ("Elm Court"). This letter is the product of a public meeting and deliberations of the SHC held at the Town Offices on July 31. 2014. 

Elm Court is a singularly significant historic structure, which dates from the mid-1880s, has been individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1985 (see the October 6, 1984, Massachusetts Historical Commission "Form B" attached). Elm Court has been found to be a "Significant Historic Building" by the Town's Historic Preservation Commission pursuant to Article XXII of the Town Bylaws (Historic Preservation and Demolition Delay). Elm Court is a Cottage Era Estate under the Town Zoning Bylaws. Both of these bylaws expressly provide that their purpose is to encourage the presentation of historic structures for the benefit of the Town.

Elm Court Main is significant both architecturally and historically. The enclosed Form B contains many such details: a few highlights follow. 

Architecturally, the House is "a triumph of the combined talents of Robert S. Peabody and Frederick Law Olmstead, who worked without budgetary constraints." (Jackson and Gilder, Houses of the Berkshires, 1870-1930" Acanthus Press (New York 2006) p. 99.) it is the largest shingle style house in the United States. ("Wikipedia" entry for Elm Court.) 
Historically, Elm Court epitomizes the apex of the Gilded Age era in Stockbridge. The house was built in the mid-1880s by Emily Vanderbilt Sloane and her husband William Douglas Sloane, with alterations by Delano & Aldrich in 1910. During its heyday, Elm Court was visited by American Presidents and European royalty, and in 1919 it hosted the "Elm Court Talks," which formed the basis of the Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations. 

Three generations of the Vanderbilt family have preserved the estate and the two latter have operated Elm Court as a restaurant, small hotel and function facility. To their credit, the house has remained largely intact and respectfully restored. A lame staff of townspeople helped to maintain the estate throughout these years. 

Notwithstanding the family's efforts, for decades Elm Court has been the subject of various unsuccessful attempts to make it a viable concern. Indeed, for much of the past half century the house has been vacant and in serious decline. We understand that a very large investment will be necessary to save Elm Court and that the current applicants before the Selectmen are prepared to make that investment. We fear that rejection of their application would lead to further decline and potential loss of Elm Court. 

We encourage the Selectmen to give substantial consideration to the great and unique architectural and historic significance of Elm Court, and to its precarious status, in considering the present application. 


Linda W. Jackson
Chair, Stockbridge Historical Commission 

Town of Stockbridge
50 Main Street, P.O. Box 417 
Stockbridge, Massachusetts 01262-0417 
Telephone 413-298-4170 
Fax 413-298-434