Historic Home of Richard Watson in Gilder


The catalog of Berkshire County’s historic and cultural offerings will gain an important addition next year. The owners of Four Brooks

Farm in Tyringham plans to repurpose the site as a museum and cultural center, honoring especially the two pillars of the Gilded Age who created it. Purchased near the end of the nineteenth century by publisher, poet, and social reformer Richard Watson Gilder and his wife, artist Helena DeKay Gilder, Four Brooks occupied a dominant place in the social and political scene of the era. The central feature of the property is a house containing elements designed by architect Stanford White (designer of the original Madison Square Garden and other notable buildings of the age.) This home hosted numerous luminaries of the day, including President Grover Cleveland and author Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twain. As publisher of Century Magazine, a publication that ranked among the most important of its time, the Gilders were connected to numerous luminaries in the fields of politics, literature, art, music, sculpture, theater, and architecture including Presidents Ulysses Grant and Theodore Roosevelt, Secretary of State John Hay, Author Henry James, and artist Winslow Homer. Helena’s art will soon be featured in an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York entitled “New York Art World, 1870-1890,” from December 12, 2022 through October 29, 2023.

 Four Brooks served as the site where much of Richard and Helena’s creative output was produced during the last two decades of their lives. Both often wrote of escaping to Tyringham from New York when they felt their creativity impaired. It is easy for a visitor to the property to understand why. Containing a formal European-style garden and more than 140 acres of fields and woodlands, the property offers sweeping views of the Tyringham Cobble, (preserved by the Trustees of Reservation.) Used primarily as a summer residence by Richard, Helena, and their children, Four Brooks became the site of a commercial farm in the 1980s run by the grandson of the original owners, the late Gilder Palmer. It is Palmer’s children Reese and Walter who presently own the property, and it is Reese and his wife Linda who are working to ensure the property like so many others associated with prominent residents in surrounding communities such as Arrowhead and the Mount can be open to the public and honor those who brought it into being. “None of the house museums in the Berkshires has a connection with their subjects as long-standing as our family has to Four Brooks,” Linda Gilder Palmer said.

The Palmers are working with a recently formed nonprofit entity,

the Gilder Palmer Sanctuary, to bring their dream of a museum and cultural center into being. They plan to establish a museum of Richard and Helena in the main house, displaying memorabilia associated with both. The grounds and outbuildings will play host to various artistic and cultural offerings, especially those that are family-friendly and reinforce family bonds in an age where so many forces in society tear people apart. Contributions to make this effort possible are presently being gathered; it is hoped that $500,000 can be raised in the next three months. If insufficient support for this project materializes, the owners plan to auction the property to the highest bidder, an option they stress is not their preferred outcome as they wish the site to be perpetually open to the public but one which they are prepared to exercise. To illustrate all that the museum and cultural center can offer the public,

For more information,
Contact Linda Gilder Palmer (352)-812-6350

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Please Address & Write All Checks To The Gilder Palmer Sanctuary;  

PO Box. 38 S. Lee MA. 01260

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