The Mount, Edith Wharton’s Berkshires Mansion
I think Stephanie Copeland, The Mount’s president and executive director, has made this site a joy to visit. But now emergency-campaign donors need a level of confidence that their largess will not be in vain: A management shake-up, or at least a convincing long-term financial plan, seems essential.
I don’t know about the long-term financial plan, but the management shake-up has now, a bit belatedly, happened. Mark Pratt of the Associated Press reports:
The president and chief executive of the financially troubled estate of author Edith Wharton has stepped down rather than assume a different position in a restructured management hierarchy, trustees announced Sunday.
The board had asked Stephanie Copeland, who oversaw the restoration and programatic reinvigoration of The Mount, to give up the financial and administrative side of her responsibilities, continuing to oversee the creative aspects. She declined. Ellen Lahr of the Berkshire Eagle yesterday reported that The Mount is now “saddled with more than $8.7 million in debt, $4.3 million of which is owed to Berkshire Bank.“
It appears, though, The Mount was granted an extra month to come up with the $3 million it says it needs to avoid foreclosure: The deadline for this is now Apr. 24. But as of Sunday, only about $570,000 had been raised, AP reported.
One possibility discussed at a Lenox Town Hall meeting on Monday night was the return of performances by Shakespeare & Company, the respected Berkshires theater group, which had originally moved into the former Wharton mansion in 1981.
But my hope is that the new regime will keep the focus on the mansion’s illustrious literary history, well served by Copeland, who accomplished the acquisition for its library of the books from Wharton’s own wide-ranging collection. Part of The Mount’s current debt is money still owed for that purchase.