Beauty & Wellness
New Marlborough’s Mepal Manor Changes Identity Once Again
By Marilyn Bethany
In 1906, Hildreth Kennedy Bloodgood, a banker and sportsman, built a 25-room, gabled-and-turreted stone mansion in New Marlborough, MA. Like other Berkshire “cottages” of that era, Mepal Manor was designed to lend old world gravitas to new world wealth. Here, Hildreth and his wife Julia raised prize-winning ponies (hackneys, the high-stepping aristocrats of the carriage show ring), as well as cocker spaniels and two daughters, whose heirs held onto the property until 1946. Since then, Mepal Manor (pronounced Maple and named for the spot outside of London where Hildreth and Julia honeymooned) has been an inn, a boarding school, and, most recently, a spa and wedding venue.
“The client wanted the couches covered in linen, but I was afraid they wouldn’t hold up,” says designer Carole Murko. For this and all other fabrics, she turned to textile designer Peter Fasano, whose hand silk-screening studio is in Great Barrington. He suggested a sturdy hemp-like linen from his line that proved to be the perfect compromise.
Now the old stone pile has undergone an even more radical identity shift. Purchased last year for $4.1 million by the owners of the Manhattan-based, outpatient Center for Motivation and Change (CMC), the house has been transformed in the months since into CMC Berkshire, an inpatient treatment center for adults, 18-and-over, who are grappling with addictions.
Dr. Carrie Wilkens and fellow-psychologist Dr. Jeffrey Foote co-founded CMC a decade ago, but it was Wilkens’ husband Will Regan who shouldered the inpatient facility undertaking. A hospitality-industry veteran (his current co-venture is the Lambs Club in the Chatwal Hotel in Manhattan), Regan was undaunted by the challenge of creating and helping to manage the equivalent of a boutique hotel. So while Wilkens and Foote concentrated on developing a treatment program for the new facility—and working on a book, Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help People Change (see box)—Regan was left to search for a suitable property and, once he’d found it, to supervise its renovation.
To avoid a ponderous look for the paneled dining room, Murko asked cabinetmaker Erik Schutz to built a table from two slabs of natural-edge English elm that they acquired from Berkshire Products, specialists in domestic and exotic lumber up to 90” wide and 6” thick. The wallpaper by Peter Fasano features silhouettes of trees, examples of which can all be found on the property.
In both of these endeavors, finding and renovating, he was aided by Carole Murko of the Boulderwood Group, a real estate and interior design firm in Stockbridge. “I’ve known Will since kindergarten,” Murko says. “I understand that he’s a neatnik with a contemporary New York aesthetic that needed to be wedded to the objectives of the facility.”
Using Berkshire County resources almost exclusively, Murko delivered the finished interior, including the public rooms, 13 bedrooms with en suite baths, and an elaborate catering kitchen, in just six months on what she describes as, “a limited budget. We had to pick our poison carefully.”
“Too feminine,” was Will Regan’s response to Carole Murko’s first suggested palette of spa-like blues and greens. In the end, they settled on a range of neutrals, from mushroom to pale beige.
No small undertaking. Mepal Manor was designed to be, at the very least, formidable and imposing. Yet, it is far from the best interests of The Center for Motivation and Change Berkshires to intimidate the people coming there for help. By sticking with soft-edged contemporary furnishings and a calm, mostly neutral color scheme, Murko has given the interiors an air of crisp modernity that’s leavened with a welcoming warmth.
Pleased with the results, she marvels, “You see this austere place, then you open the door and it’s, like, ‘Whoa! This is not what I was expecting!’”
Related Links: It’s Always a Holiday Weekend at Mepal Manor and Gedney Farm