The Lenox Club is the only private social club in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. It was founded in 1864 and later incorporated as a Reading Club (for gentlemen) in 1874. The original clubhouse, with a smaller cottage, was located in the center of the village where the Lenox Community Center now stands and served as a gentlemen’s club in the country similar to those in the city. The Club had a felicitous reputation among the so-called ‘Cottagers’ who owned large estates in the area during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Later in the century to increase the popularity of the original club a nine-hole private golf course on the western edge of Lenox belonging to Dr. John C. Greenleaf was leased for use by the members.
The Greenleaf house (the present clubhouse) was built probably sometime in the 1860s and the Music Room (the main dining room) was added in the 1880s. In 1914, upon Dr. Greenleaf’s death the house, outbuildings golf course and the entire ninety acres was purchased by the Club. When the gentlemen found themselves the owners of a rather large house needing a woman’s touch for furnishing and decorating, it was decided to open the membership to ladies (a move very advanced for its time) and thus the ‘Ladies Parlor’ and the ‘Gentlemen’s Library’ came into being. In 1924 the nine hole golf course was expanded to eighteen holes and the ‘Lenox Golf Club’ was formed in association with the Aspinwall and Curtis Hotels both of which used the course for their guests.
The arrangement lasted until 1932 when the Aspinwall Hotel burned. This event and the difficult financial situation caused by the Great Depression led to abandonment of the golf course which gradually became replaced by a heavily wooded forest. For the next several decades the Club was maintained as a summer residence and clubhouse, also serving the traditional Thursday night buffets and Sunday brunch for the members, primarily during the Tanglewood season.
Very active interest in the Club was revived and major improvements to the clubhouse and grounds were initiated in the 1980s. Two har-tru tennis courts and two croquet courts were added on the lower lawn in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
The house has nine bedrooms, most of them quite spacious, seven with private en suite baths, available to members and their guests. The Club, with its gracious Music Room, lovely veranda and capacious lawns, is a very popular venue for weddings and receptions. Cocktail parties, private dinners and similar functions are welcomed also through member sponsorship.
The Club’s most traditional and enduring activity is the Thursday evening (‘cook’s night out’) buffet dinner which has been held without interruption since 1914. Dinner is served a la carte on Fridays and Saturdays year round. Sunday brunch is served during the summer as well as lunch on the veranda on Tuesdays, and for the Tanglewood season pre-concert dinners are served Friday and Saturday. Festive balls are held three to four times a year and as are some popular family-oriented events.
The Lenox Club Book
In 2014, The Lenox Club celebrated its 150th Anniversary. As part of the festivities, members Richard Jackson and Cornelia Gilder, well-known local writers, wrote a book on the Club, which was published in paperback and hardcopy.