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A Glimpse Inside ...

Kemble Inn

by Kathryn Boughton

Luxury and Lenox are almost synonymous. Since the Gilded Age the town has attracted literary and artistic luminaries as well as those seeking a cultural milieu that offers diversions such as Tanglewood, Jacob’s Pillow, regional theaters and museums—all set against the stunning backdrop of Berkshire County.

In the era following the Civil War, the region became a magnet for some of the nation’s wealthiest families. The likes of Astors and Westinghouses spared no expense building, furnishing and landscaping mansions that they called "cottages."

One such visitor was Frederick Frelinghuysen, secretary of state during President Chester Arthur’s presidency. Frelinghuysen built his house in the 1880s, furnishing it handsomely and entertaining lavishly, with former President Arthur among his many guests.

Today, the tradition of lavish entertainment is perpetuated under the ownership of innkeeper Scott Shortt, who purchased the building in 2010. By then it had already been transformed into an inn, but Shortt took the work even further. Over a five-year period, the interior rooms on the first and second floors have been gutted and recreated as an upscale 12,000-square-feet, hostelry with 12 guest rooms and a gourmet restaurant. It is, in the words of its owner, “comfortable but sophisticated, refined but not stuffy.”

“We finished the last bit of renovations last June,” Shortt said. “Now we’re just finishing the design details.” He said if he had a theme in creating his interior decor, it was to create a mixture of antiques and contemporary furnishings.

“I think it is cohesive throughout the building,” he said. “The rooms are all very different but there is an eclectic mix of antique and modern things and fun bits of color.”

Thus, the King’s Suite, housed in the mansion’s original drawing room has a piano, a wood-burning fireplace, a two-person steam shower spa, living room sitting area—and since it’s just off the main foyer, the luxury of three large windows overlooking Trinity Church.

On the second floor the mood in Suite 201 is different. Dubbed a Berkshires Pied-à-Terre, Paris provided the inspiration for this room with its king-size carved four-poster bed, wood-burning fireplace, and heated floors in the spacious bathroom.

Two doors away, guests find themselves a continent away in feeling in a suite evoking the Golden Age of Hollywood. Decorated in white-on-white with gold accents and ample natural light, the elegant, well-appointed room has a classic silver screen feel.

The building has, indeed, offered hospitality to real presidents and dignitaries and, in the stately master suite that Chester Arthur once occupied, there is a suitable presidential presence with two wood-burning fireplaces, a king-size four-poster bed, a sitting area, and a Jacuzzi tub for two.

The Kemble Inn—which will soon be redubbed The Frederick—is also home to Table Six restaurant, open to the public and guests. Chef Ron Reda, chef to the White House Executive Dining Room under former President Bill Clinton, is at the helm of all the classic American dishes served in the restaurant.

The restaurant has two indoor dining rooms and a total of 60 seats when the outdoor dining area is available during good weather. Menus and more information are available at For reservations or information call 413-637-4113.