Interesting Facts about Stockbridge Bowl
Prepared by the
Stockbridge Bowl Association
- Stockbridge Bowl is owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and is considered a Great Pond. The State owns the lake, the Town of Stockbridge owns the problems, and the SBA works closely with the Town to solve these problems. The Town of Stockbridge owns approximately 11,750 feet of shore line around Stockbridge Bowl: about 11,000 at Gould Meadows, about 450 feet at the Town Beach, and 300 feet at the boat ramp.
- The original name of Stockbridge Bowl was Lake Mahkeenac. It was given this name by the Mahekanu Indians, a tribe of the Mohicans. Mahkeenac means “home of the Mahekanus.” For a brief period of time it was called Mountain Mirror, and there is a map at the Stockbridge Library indicating that name.
- Stockbridge Bowl comprises 372 acres of water. From its north shore to the outlet, it is about 1 ¾ miles long, about ¾ miles wide, and has approximately 6 miles of shoreline. At its deepest point, it is about 50 feet deep. There are more than 450 cottages around the lake. Many are on the lake while others are tucked into the hills behind the east and south sides of the lake.
- On the east shore line there are Mahkeenac Shores (25 cottages), then north of that is the Terrace (20 cottages), and the Heights, which is above the lake and has 35 cottages.
- There is a causeway on the east shore. On the other side of the causeway road is Lilly Brook Pond, which was the holding pond for the lake. Years ago, one could paddle a canoe under the causeway and into the pond, but, unfortunately, it is now impassible due to the build up of silt, beaver dams and weeds.
- Left of the causeway is Camp Mah-Kee-Nac, founded in l926 by Joe Kruger. It is a boy’s camp from the end of June to the first two weeks of August. For the past five years, at the end of August, it also became America’s Camp. A one-week camp for boys and girls— the children of 9/11. The kids who came here were the children of policemen, firemen and municipal workers who lost their lives in the 9/ll tragedy. The first year there were 70 children. In 2007, America’s Camp moved to Camp Danbee in Hinsdale because with 350 expected kids, Camp Mahkeenac could not contain them all.
- Next to the Camp is Bullard Woods. These woods were given to the Stockbridge Bowl Association by Mrs. Bullard and are open to the public. The Woods are managed by the SBA. We have created and maintained a wonderful hiking trail that starts at Hawthorne Road and wends its way to the lake’s shoreline Now that we have forded a stream in the Woods with a bridge, one can walk through the Woods to the Tanglewood Beach and on to Gould Meadows, exiting on Route 183. Adjacent too the Woods is the Tanglewood Beach. This is enjoyed by members of the orchestra, the Tanglewood Music Center students, and the Days in the Arts program. About 80 people a day use the Tanglewood Beach.
- Next to the Tanglewood Beach is Gould Meadows, a tract of land owned by the Town of Stockbridge. The Kripalu Beach abuts Gould Meadows. The Kripalu site was originally
Shadowbrook, one of the loveliest, and, when it was built 1893 by the Anson Phelps Stokes, the largest home in America. Later it was sold to Andrew Carnegie, who was in residence here at the time of his death. Shadowbrook burned to the ground in March of l956. At the time, it was owned by the Catholic Church and was a Jesuit training seminary. The Church rebuilt this modern brick structure. Due to a decline in the Jesuit order, the building was closed and left vacant for a 13-year period. The old stone boathouse on the lake was the Shadowbrook beach house. Kripalu purchased the property in l983 and is currently celebrating its 25th year of ownership. Kripalu is the largest residential Yoga and Wellness Center in the U.S.
- Above the Kripalu is Seranak, owned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra. It was the summer home of Serge Koussevitzky, who, for many years, was the director of the Boston Symphony, and the founder of Tanglewood. The name Ser-a-na-k stands for Serge and Natasha Koussevitzky. Natasha was Koussevitzky’s first wife. When she died, he married her niece Olga who had been her secretary. Madame Olga spent her summers here.
- Other Berkshire “Cottages” that can be see from the lake are Wheatleigh, built in 1893 by Henry Harvey Cook and inherited by his daughter Georgie upon her marriage to the Count Carlos Manuel de Heredia, and Elm Court the residence of William Douglas Sloan and Emily Vanderbilt Sloan, built in 1886.
- On the west shore is a public boat ramp. The ramp was installed by the County Commissioners in the 1950’s. Swimming at the ramp area is forbidden. The canoe part of the Josh Billings race is launched from here. The Mahkeenac Boating Club is just south of the boat ramp. The club was founded in the 1890’s. It is a private club with a very active membership.
- Toward the south end of the lake there is a piece of land jutting out into the lake. This is known simply as The Island. It is about two acres of land that is owned by the Stockbridge Bowl Association. The island is one of the nesting grounds for the Canada Geese. It also attracts blue herons, green herons, osprey as well as many ducks. Behind the island one of the lake’s problems is very visible—the infestation of the invasive, but beautiful water lilies.
- Near Town Beach, there is a cluster of cottages called Beachwood, one of the five lake groups. There are about 150 cottages in the Beachwood compound, some are along the lake and many others are hidden in the woods behind the lake. The fifth lake group is Lake Drive, the area that is in the outlet.