A Sudden Change of Tune

Just a few short weeks ago, new Elm Court owner Linda S. Law, having relieved “Front Yard LLC” of the property, used rather exalted language to describe her plans.

In response to questions from a Berkshire Eagle reporter, she exclaimed that she wanted Elm Court, a sprawling Vanderbilt trophy house dating from the Gilded Age, to “shine a bright light globally, and be a beacon for Lenox, Stockbridge and the entire Berkshire region.”

Here in the neighborhood, having been through the Front Yard (Amstar) chapter marked by years of cynical misrepresentations of their true agenda, we were skeptical, while remaining open to the possibility that Ms. Law might be serious about shining light, through the establishment of some sort of non-profit use, contributing to the public good within the Berkshires and beyond.

In fact, within the very same Vanderbilt family, there is a visionary, thriving precedent for such benevolent use on the shores of Lake Champlain: Shelburne Farms, now a globally recognized center for place-based, sustainable education and regenerative agriculture. Possibly, Elm Court might shine a similar sort of bright light here in the Berkshires?

Alas, according to recent reporting in the New York Post, Ms. Law appears to have changed her tune. She now claims to be “talking with three different resort companies about managing the property,”  and wants ” to add more amenities,”  such as “a speakeasy, a movie theater and a place for gardening classes to honor the gardening legacy.”  The basement will also offer a variety of pampering services within a 15,000-square-foot spa. In other words: same old, same old.

To be sure, we take any story published in the New York Post with a boulder-sized grain of salt. Yet according to our own sources, the new owner has yet to reach out to the Stockbridge Board of Selectman nor to the surrounding neighborhood. Not good signs, regarding attention to the public interest. Not good signs at all. Here we go again?