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Wharton's Landmark Estate Faces Foreclosure

Daily News

Online Only, posted 2.25.08

Edith Wharton Restoration, owners of the Mount, the author's landmark estate in Lenox, Massachusetts, announced recently that the property is facing imminent foreclosure. The organization owes over four million dollars to Berkshire Bank, from whom it has borrowed since 2002 in order to restore and maintain three acres of gardens and the thirty-five room house, designed and built by Wharton in 1902. The bank sent warning of potential foreclosure after the Mount missed a scheduled loan payment earlier this month.

"On the one hand, the Mount is winning awards for preservation and is internationally renowned as an institution," Sandra Boss, interim chairwoman of the Mount's board, told Charles McGrath of the New York Times. "On the other hand, our current debt levels are unserviceable and unsustainable. We're not in control of our own destiny unless we can mount a restructuring of our debt."

According to a New York Times report published on Saturday, the organization has also defaulted on payments to George Ramsden, a British book dealer from whom they purchased Wharton's library in 2005, and to whom they owe eight hundred and eighty-five thousand dollars. The debt from that acquisition also extends to a private loan, yet to be settled, of two-and-a-half million dollars.

Wharton called the Mount her "first real home" in her 1934 autobiography A Backward Glance. She lived at the estate until 1910, when she moved to France at the end of her marriage to Teddy Wharton. Edith Wharton Restoration purchased the property in 1980 and began restorations in 2001. The site is now on the register of National Historic Landmarks.

The Mount, which receives roughly thirty thousand visitors annually, is attempting to raise three million dollars by March 24 and has begun a fundraising campaign on its Web site. If the organization achieves its goal, an anonymous donor intends to match the amount.

Reader Comments

  • merrybrovo says...

    We can't give an exact single reason for the foreclosure of Landmark Estate. But we can't skip the issue of market slow growth for such results. www.mariabarr.com

  • bentonmadisn says...

    This would be a wake up call for Mount owners considering the amount of funds they have to raise would be a difficult task plus it would be important for them to select the proper restructuring debt plan as it would only save them from bankruptcy. Owners should also urge the folllowers or the fans of the famous authors to lend a helping hand so as to secure them from getting bankrupt.

    For details click here.

  • JoelJohnson says...

    I think this pretty much sums up the state of affairs when it comes to the real estate market and home foreclosures. Home foreclosures are on the rise still, as those who were able to hold out are starting to feel the pressure of the slowing economy. With the recent debacle at the federal level concerning Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac... this is going to be an issue for a long time coming. Now the mortgage companies are in so deep that it will take a long time for these lending institutions to recover. Check out some other organizations that have felt the pain. Not even the wealthy are immune to the gradual slowing of the economy. But we would never be in this mess if people weren't overspending their means.

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