Williamstown's hidden gem Field Farm will be highlighted


Photo Gallery | Field Farm in Williamstown

WILLIAMSTOWN -- A hidden gem may soon start shining a little brighter.

Field Farm in south Williamstown, owned and operated by the Trustees of Reservations, is a more than 300-acre former farm and defacto time capsule from the 1950s and ‘60s -- the decor and furniture has remained the same since then.

But not many people know about Field Farm. A few tourists and locals have stumbled across the place, many of whom help to make up a loyal following, but officials at Trustees would like to see the word spread. So Field Farm will be the scene of a number of different cultural offerings this summer.

The house at Field Farm was built by property owner and Williams College graduate Lawrence Bloedel and his wife Eleanor in 1948, after he purchased the Sloan Road farm from the Field family. His family was in the lumber business in Seattle at the time part owners of the MacMillan Bloedel Lumber Company.

Innkeeper Ole Retlev, who has operated the former main house as a six-room bed and breakfast for seven years, said the Bloedels were art collectors and fascinated by design -- Lawrence Bloedel had a wood working shop in the garage and designed and built much of the furniture still used in the house. Lawrence Bloedel passed away in 1976, and Eleanor Bloedel passed in 1984. They left the property to the Trustees of Reservations. They left their art collection to Williams College and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Today the main house serves as a bed and breakfast inn during the summer. Guests enjoy the early ‘60s-era furniture and decor (even the walls are exactly the same shade the Bloedels used), the fantastic views from each window, the several miles of walking trails, the art hanging on the walls and the dozen sculptures sprinkled around the grounds.

"Whatever door you open, you immediately get drawn outside through the big windows," Retlev said.

Then there is the Folly. When the Bloedels wanted to build a guest house, they brought in acclaimed architect Ullrich Franzen. The guest house still stands as it did when it was built in 1965, with the original kitchen appliances, picture windows, and a design that manipulates perspectives: The place looks smaller than it is from the outside, and seems bigger than it is on the inside.

Another charming cultural aspect of Field Farm: no television sets.

Retlev said the farm has about 1,500 visitors annually, either staying at the inn or walking the trails.

"They come from every state in the union, and from England, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, China, Japan and South Africa," he said.

To create a package of cultural offerings, the Trustees of Reservations enlisted the help of Dyan Wiley, engagement manager for western Massachusetts region.

She designed a cultural season for Field Farm that enhances and capitalizes on the farm's most valuable asset, the natural surroundings.

"I spent some time studying [Field Farm]," Wiley said. "And it occurred to me that I'd love to hear some mellow music while gazing at Mount Greylock."

So three live concerts are set for the second Sunday in July, August and September by musicians from a variety of genres, including bluegrass band Wintergreen, acoustic duo Rosary Beard, and contemporary piano and cello duo Dan Kennedy and Stephen Katz.

Other events are also focused on the natural surroundings, like photography workshops, guided nature walks, and drawing classes provided by IS183 Art School of the Berskshires.

Guided tours of the Bloedel home and the Folly will give visitors a close up look at the architecture, designer furnishings and decor.

Another offering that capitalizes on the Bloedels as art collectors is the Art, Architecture & Design Tours, which will highlight the mid-century art collection -- sculptures, paintings and drawings -- in both the main house and the Folly and on grounds.

Wiley said the relationship between Field Farm and Williams College has given them the ability to share some of the Bloedels' art collection, as it now belongs to the Williams College Museum of Art.

"They are the keepers of the collection," Wiley said.

The combination of offerings, she noted, are designed to attract tourists and locals alike.

"It should shed some light on a presence in south Williamstown that nobody knows about yet," Wiley said.

For more information and a schedule of events, call 413-532-1631 or visit www.TheTrustees.org.

To reach Scott Stafford:
or (413) 663-3741, ext. 227.
On Twitter: @BE_SStafford


If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.

Powered by Creative Circle Media Solutions