This imposing farm complex was built by John E. Parsons in 1890, and at the turn of the century the substantial farmhouse became the home of his son Herbert Parsons and Herbert’s bride, Elsie Clews. Herbert graduated Yale Law School and was admitted to the Bar in 1894. He met Elsie Clews of Newport at a winter house party in Lenox.
Elsie was a society intellectual with feminist leanings, who graduated from Barnard College and received a PhD in Sociology from Columbia College. They married in 1900, and Elsie taught at Columbia while Herbert served in Congress from 1905 to 1911.
Grant Lafarge, an architect friend of Elsie’s, designed a small log cabin (still standing) in the woods just behind Stonover Farm, where Elsie immersed herself in anthropological studies. She and Mr. Lafarge took many research trips together, and Elsie became an authority on the Hopi and Pueblo tribes, about whom she wrote and lectured.
In Lenox, Herbert Parsons led a more conventional life on the Board of Governors of the Lenox Club, the Lenox Library Board, the Lenox Water Company board, and the vestry of Trinity Church. An associate of Theodore Roosevelt, Herbert ascended to Chairman of the NY Republican County Committee, served as Congressman from New York from 1905 to 1911, and was a delegate to all Republican NY state conventions from 1904 to 1920.
Herbert’s love of automobiles was not shared by Elsie, who advocated walking and riding, and who pronounced motoring “demoralizing”. Herbert died at Stonover Farm in 1925 when he was thrown from a motorcycle he was demonstrating for his young son.
The house remained in the Parsons family for many years, until the death in 1985 of Herbert Patterson, John E. Parson’s great grandson. The appealing exterior of the main house remains identical to its appearance 100 years ago, and is a Lenox town treasure.