Visit a historic home in the Berkshires or Litchfield Hills, and you step back in time to eras of great architectural beauty and craftsmanship.

These homes and gardens reflect the people who impacted the region either as residents and architects and garden designers, particularly those built around the turn of the 19th century. These “Berkshire cottages” were built as vacation homes for wealthy city dwellers who spared no expense to make their personal marks. These homes also are testaments to the many talented immigrant craftsmen and artisans whose labor brought vision to life.

Plan a day or two to take in many of these fine homes and gardens, some of which offer museums, event spaces and venues for education and cultural events.

In Litchfield County, explore history at Topsmead State Forest, the 1925 English Tudor style home of Edith Morton Chase.

Continue into the Berkshires with a visit to The Bidwell House and Museum in Monterey, home of the Rev. Adonijah Bidwell, built around 1760. Bidwell was the first minister to the region that later become Monterey and Tyringham. Naumkaeg in Stockbridge and The Mount in Lenox, the home of writer Edith Wharton, each offer excellent “cottage era” architecture and gardens; Ashuntilly Gardens (Tyringham) and the Berkshire Botanical Garden (Stockbridge) and Chesterwood, the home of Daniel Chester French, are must-visit destinations. Arrowhead in Pittsfield is the venerable home of Herman Melville.

Some of the area’s historic homes remain in private hands, and are evident from the side roads and village streets of Lenox and Stockbridge, MA.

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An 18th Century Trail offers a guide to six of the earliest homes in Berkshire County. The homes are open to the public for tours and visitors: Berkshire Historical Society at Arrowhead  (Pittsfield) Trustees of Reservations properties Mission House (Stockbridge) and Ashley House (Sheffield) the Sheffield Historical Society’s Dan Raymond House, and Great Barrington Historical Society’s Captain Wheeler House.

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Historic Homes and Gardens Map