Vol. II No. 07 4/1/2021
Names and Definitions
On March 22, not for the first time, the Planning Board discussed which properties fit under the Cottage Era Estate (CEE) portion of the proposed bylaw. Since a Wikipedia search of Berkshire Cottages lists me as a reference, I want to help. I am not sure how, but I will try.
A Berkshire Cottage is a specific thing like a dog or a donut. There are varieties—with or without sprinkles, mangy or well-groomed, Georgian or Italianate—but everyone knows a dog, a donut, and a Berkshire Cottage when they see one.
A Berkshire Cottage is a second home, never a primary residence, built during a specific period of American history, architect-designed, and of great size and heft. That is, a Berkshire Cottage is a palatial mansion with no fewer than 20 rooms on no less than 20 acres, built in the Berkshires during the Gilded Age. (Post-Civil War 1865 to America's entrance into WWI 1917)
Adaptive reuses over 150 years might cause confusion. If there is confusion, the year built, the size of the house and grounds, and its use as a second home will clear it up. Even so, if the PB prefers a list, there is a list of Berkshire Cottages in Stockbridge in the back of my book (Berkshire Cottages). That list was copied onto the Wikipedia page with proper attribution.
A Berkshire Cottage is well-defined and recognizable and a list of them exists; on the other hand, no one, not even members of the Historical Commission or the Historic Preservation Committee could determine what fits under the CEE section of the proposed bylaw because Cottage Era Estate are three words strung together without meaning. There was no Cottage Era in American history, and to repeat cottage and estate in the same caption is, amazingly, both an oxymoron and repetitive. This is not to be pettifogging; words matter, especially if written into a bylaw requiring compliance and enforcement.
I hope this helps. It is hard to watch so much effort expended on work long since done and dusted. If this bit of definition is not enough, perhaps adding a bit of history? Forty years ago, I was honored when Mary Flynn invited me to contribute to the first Great Estates Bylaw. If how we got from there to here is of interest, see Stockbridge History below.
March 20: Ice fisherman were still on the lake.