Chesterwood

Daniel Chester French, b 1850- d 1931
4 Williamsville Road, Stockbridge, MA 01262 - view on Google Maps
413-298-3579
“I hope you will come to ‘Chesterwood’ and rest. It is as beautiful as fairy-land here now, the hemlocks are decorating themselves with their light-green tassels and the laurel is beginning to blossom and the peonies are a glory in the garden. I go about in an ecstasy of delight over the loveliness of things.”
—Daniel Chester French, 1911
Chesterwood is the former summer home, studio and gardens of America’s foremost public sculptor, Daniel Chester French (1850-1931). French is best known for his Minute Man, in Concord, MA, and the Abraham Lincoln for the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC. However, he created over 100 monuments during his lifetime, which can be found in 16 states across the country and in Paris, France. Chesterwood encompasses French’s intimate house, his European-inspired landscape and gardens, and his impressive studio, which showcases original plaster models and sculpture in bronze and marble. Admire the view of the Berkshire Hills or stroll around the buildings and grounds as well as the well-established woodland paths designed by French himself.

ABOUT

To Daniel Chester French, there was no place lovelier than Chesterwood, his “heaven.” For thirty-five years, the French family spent their winters in New York and migrated to Glendale in early May. At Chesterwood, the sculptor spent long hours in the studio working upon important commissions such as Abraham Lincoln, The Melvin Memorial, and the Spirit of Life. He also found time to take long walks in the woods, clip hedges, and tend to his vegetable gardens and grape vines. Family and friends visited “Hotel Chesterwood” all season long, and Mary French kept a detailed recipe book to keep track of meals and entertaining. Their lively daughter Margaret often had a houseful of friends, and they filled the summer days with games of tennis, dinner parties, and dancing in the studio. All three family members were active in the Stockbridge community, volunteering for committees and taking part in the activities of the town.

French’s studio building features a large, skylit workroom, an opulently furnished reception room for relaxing and entertaining guests, and a long south-facing piazza with a view of Monument Mountain and the surrounding bucolic terrain. Today, the studio contains some of the sculpture, plaster casts and working models that document French’s creativity and prolific output. After French’s death in 1931, his daughter Margaret French Cresson (an accomplished sculptor as well) worked tirelessly to preserve the studio, and in 1969 she donated much of the estate to the National Trust. Upon her death in 1973, the entire property came to the Trust. The preservation of the studio, gardens, and residence enables visitors to imagine how French and his family spent their time at Chesterwood: sculpting, entertaining, and enjoying life, nature, and the “loveliness of things.”

Did you know...?

Daniel Chester French’s 1898 studio was designed by the architect of the Lincoln Memorial, Henry Bacon. The studio features a railroad track upon which French could push his monumental plaster models on a flat bed car, to continue to work on them in the light of the day.

SPECIAL RESOURCES

The Chesterwood Archives have been transferred to the nearby Chapin Library of Rare Books, Williams College, Williamstown, MA. For more information visit http://chapin.williams.edu/

WHAT TO DO HERE

  • Self-guided tour of buildings and landscape designed by Daniel Chester French
  • Permanent exhibition on Daniel Chester French and his monumental work
  • Picnic tables with views of Berkshire Hills
  • Woodland walks
  • Annual outdoor contemporary sculpture exhibition
  • Live music
  • Special programs and events from May-October

YOU CAN ALSO SEE THE ART HERE:

  • John Harvard, Harvard Yard, Cambridge, MA
  • Wendell Phillips, Boylston Street Mall, Boston, MA
  • Death and the Sculptor, Forest Hills Cemetery, Boston, MA
  • Minute Man, Old North Bridge, Concord, MA
  • Spirit of Life, Saratoga, NY
  • Alma Mater, Columbia University, New York, NY
  • Samuel Francis duPont Memorial Fountain, Dupont Circle, Washington, DC
  • Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC
  • Wisconsin, Wisconsin State Capitol Building, Madison, WI
  • Russell A Alger Fountain, Detroit, MI
  • Statue of the Republic, Jackson Park, Chicago, IL