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Fields of green meet art of whimsy in Williamstown

Email|Print| Text size + By Doug Warren
Globe Staff / September 25, 2005

WILLIAMSTOWN -- Tucked into the green fields of far Western Massachusetts under the imposing shoulder of Mount Greylock, the Guest House at Field Farm melds the artistry of man and nature into a lodging experience unlike any other.

Built in 1948 as the home of Lawrence and Eleanor Bloedel and to house their extensive collection of modern art, the Guest House retains its Bauhaus-era charm.

Visitors will find its five bedrooms and common areas decorated with paintings and period furniture, some of it made by Lawrence Bloedel, although much of the art collection is now at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and the nearby Williams College Museum of Art.

Today, the Guest House is owned and operated by the Trustees of Reservations, a nonprofit organization that helps preserve some 53,000 acres across the Commonwealth. The group maintains the Guest House and the 300 acres of fields and forest that surround it.

We arrived about a half-hour prior to our 3 p.m. check-in, but we were greeted graciously by our innkeeper, Bob Chok, who proved highly informed about the property. It was a very hot day and fans were in use in the living and dining rooms, so it was with great relief that we found our bedroom equipped with a window air-conditioning unit. The other four bedrooms are similarly equipped.

Our room, the Gallery, is the only one on the first floor and formerly served as Bloedel's woodworking workshop. It has been recently renovated and now offers a big, beautiful bathroom furnished with Frette towels and a comfortable king bed with a large tufted fabric headboard.

Out our large window we could see one of the Guest House's signature bronze sculptures, ''Sandy Seated in a Square," by Richard M. Miller. The afternoon seemed to call for a swim, particularly after a nearly three-hour drive from Boston, so we made our way through the sculpture gardens surrounding the house to the heated, in-ground pool.

It was a delight to immerse ourselves in the refreshing water while watching hawks soar over the surrounding fields. Visiting artists sketched and painted unobtrusively under the shade of nearby trees. We were going to take a hike on one of the loop trails that begin and end at the Guest House, but the sense of peace and quiet that prevails at Field Farm overtook us and we opted for an afternoon nap.

Our room was equipped with a high-end radio/CD player, but no TV, which was fine with us. We had brought along a nice bottle of wine that we stored in the communal refrigerator in the kitchen that also held free soft drinks and bottled water for guests.

As evening settled in, we shared a glass of wine in our room, then drove about 40 minutes south on Route 7 to Lenox for our first concert at Tanglewood in 14 years.

The next morning, I arose early to take the hike we had passed on the day before. The Pond Trail was closed because of flooding caused by overzealous beavers. I took the North Trail, which took me over largely level ground through field and forest. It was a shimmering morning with a light breeze blowing the last of the night fog off the slopes of Mount Greylock.

Feeling the internal call for breakfast, I opted not to take the Oak Loop, which leads to some limestone caves on the far northeastern side of the property. I arrived back at the Guest House after about an hour's stroll and joined the other lodgers at breakfast.

Chok and an assistant had prepared an enticing spread with homemade coffee cake, fresh juice and coffee, and granola with yogurt. We declined the bananas Foster on waffles that Chok offered as an entree and instead shared a bowl of fresh fruit. As we chatted with the other guests around the dining room table, we admired the living room furnishings, including an original Eames chair and Vladimir Kagan sofas.

After breakfast, Chok offered us a tour of The Folly, the pinwheel-shaped modernist house the Bloedels had built for their grandchildren in the 1960s at a cost of $100,000. Designed by Ulrich Franzen, The Folly is open only for tours, and it is worth the time to take one. It offers a trip back nearly 40 years, with the original St. Charles galley kitchen, tile bathrooms, and furnishings all intact. Chok said it reminded him of ''The Jetsons," and we all agreed. The Bloedel offspring were truly fortunate to have such a place to play.

We headed back to the city reluctantly, because the Guest House at Field Farm offers such a pleasing combination of natural and man-made delights. Like the Bloedel grandchildren, we knew how lucky we were to have such a wonderful place to stay and play.

Doug Warren can be reached at

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