Search for the Perfect Vacation Home Leads to the Discovery of a Hidden Jewel in Williamstown, Mass.

November 7, 2014 Updated: November 7, 2014

Thirty-five years ago, Lillian Gilden and her family were intrigued by the idea of designing and building a second home. She started on a quest to find the perfect country location, which led her to Williamstown and ultimately the development of an exclusive residential subdivision. 

It was a toss-up between purchasing property in the Hamptons and the Berkshires—but the decision was made clear when she discovered Williamstown. 

The scenic drive up the Taconic Parkway to Williamstown from the city was just the beginning, according to Gilden. “It’s a town, it’s a village, it’s a bucolic haven tucked away in the hills of the Berkshire Mountains in northwestern Massachusetts.” 

Williamstown was a three-hour drive from her apartment in NYC. She learned that the drive time from Boston; Pennsylvania; Providence; Long Island, and Connecticut to Williamstown is also approximately 3 hours. 

The family’s priority was to find a location in a rural setting. Williamstown exceeded the Gildens’ expectations with its matchless cultural and recreational amenities in a beautiful country setting. 

For Gilden, then the head of the arts department of Friends Academy in Locust Valley, Long Island the proximity of the world-renowned Clark Art Institute was a special bonus. The Clark’s recent renovation and expansion by the renowned Japanese architect Ando Tadeo and outstanding exhibitions are generating worldwide acclaim. 

Williamstown is the home of Williams College ranked as the No. 1 private Liberal Arts College in the country. Its offerings of concerts, lectures, and special events for the community was another draw for the Gildens. The Williams College Gallery of Art represents the work of first-rate artists as well as exhibitions curated by Mass MoCA—the largest museum of contemporary art in the country located in the neighboring town of North Adams. 

The Tony Award-winning Williamstown Theater Festival was another key attraction for the Gildens. Famed Nikos Psacharopoulos was executive artistic director at that point in time. The recently reconstructed state-of-the-art theater is located adjacent to the college. 

The Williamstown Theater Festival continues to thrive as a top-notch stage featuring productions with critically acclaimed actors including Blythe Danner, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kelly O’Hara, and Sam Rockwell. 

For Gilden, the combination of rural tranquility, first-class cultural and educational amenities, coupled with four-season recreational offerings was the driving force and decision to the purchase the 89 acre hillside property in South Williamstown. 

Gilden’s vision was to build a home for her family. She and her son Peter subsequently envisioned the creation of an exclusive enclave of homes for others seeking the privacy and tranquility of this unparalleled community. 

It has since been a 10-year undertaking shared by Gilden and her son to create the subdivision of 7 private home sites on their pastoral hillside overlooking views of the Berkshires. 

The architecture firm Truex Cullins specializing in sustainable building has proposed designing high-end homes customized for the home sites as an option for interested developers and home owners. The vision of Valley View Road is close to becoming reality!