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RI Archives: Rural Road Trips

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Stonover Farm: A Hard Rocker Changes his Tune

Tom and Suky Werman met on a bike tour of France the summer both were 16. “I showed up early and looked over the roster,” Tom recalls. Among the names was one Susan Gould of Rye, NY.  “I thought, ‘She’s going to be my girlfriend this summer.’ ” She was, and they’ve been pedaling up hill and coasting down ever since.  Susan (better known as Suky) and Tom married after graduate school (he in business, she in education) and raised three children in Los Angeles. 
 
“There are four stages to every successful career in the entertainment industry,” says Tom.  “ ‘Who’s Tom Werman?  Get me Tom Werman.  Get me a young Tom Werman.  Who’s Tom Werman?’ ”

Tom was a hard rock record producer and A&R executive who, in the 80s and 90s, discovered and/or produced some of the biggest acts on the Los Angeles recording scene—Ted Nugent, Boston, Motley Crue, Twisted Sister, Poison, to name but a few.  But by late 2000, he was painfully straddling career stages 3 and 4.  Then a friend, Tom Kelly (the composer of Like a Virgin), lent him the book, “Who Moved My Cheese?” 

“It took about forty minutes to read,” recalls Tom, “and by the time I finished I knew I was about to start a new life.”

With Suky’s blessing, Tom set out to find a property where they could do a b&b, but Their Way—luxurious, not fussy (“no excess fabric, no little sayings, no potpourri,” says Tom, looking pained); clean design and all the amusements modern technology can afford.

Gravitating back to home turf, Tom, a native Bostonian, started and ended his search in The Berkshires.  One day in February 2001, he phoned Suky, who was teaching at a private school back in Los Angeles, from Lenox. “I found it,” he said. “The moment I walked through the door, I heard celestial choirs.”

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With the help of Thalia Gelbard, a designer from Sherman Oaks, California, the Wermans quickly transformed Stonover, an 1890 gentleman’s farm on Under Mountain Road, just minutes from Tanglewood, into a five-unit, five-star b & b.  Their style is minimal-but-comfortable: each unit (three luxury suites in the main house, one beyond-luxurious suite in a renovated schoolhouse, and a two-bedroom cottage with a fully-equipped kitchen) is a media haven, complete with broadband internet access, a 27” flat-screen TV, full cable, plus CD and DVD players.  The boundlessly energetic Tom cooks breakfast on an Aga, and mows the lawn himself (!) on a John Deere.  Their first guest was Linda Ronstadt who found them through one of her producers, John Boylan, an old industry pal of Tom’s.

Stonover has been a new leaf for Suky, as well.  Since her days in the education department of the Craft and Folk Art Museum when they first moved to L.A., she has been a “casual collector” of arts and crafts.  When it came to selecting art for Stonover, she asked five of the California artists whose work she and Tom owned if she could represent them on the East Coast.  She displayed their works decoratively in the public rooms of the inn.  Guests lapped them up.  Soon she expanded her exhibition space to Stonover’s glorious barn—and her sights to the larger art world.  While she still represents the original five, a recent exhibition included works by such art world luminaries as April Gornik and Kiki Smith.

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Two of the California five: clothespin vessel by Karyl Sisson; pottery by Leslie Thompson.

Lots of people fantasize about chucking their hum-drum existences so they can pursue cock-eyed dreams.  In the Wermans’ case, it was the other way around: They ran away from the circus and joined the world.  “We love the community, we love our neighbors, and we love our guests,” Suky says.  “We transformed our lives and found great stimulation and peace all at once. It’s been everything we’d hoped for.”

Stonover Farm, 169 Under Mountain Road, Lenox 413.637.9100
The Barn Gallery at Stonover Farm is open to guests at the inn and by appointment.  413.637-3344 barngallery@stonoverfarm.com

Except for the two pictures of vessels, above, the photographs in this story are used with the kind permission of Kevin Sprague.

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 01/08/08 at 12:58 PM • Permalink