Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Mount has until April 24 to raise the $3 million

From the Berkshire Eagle:

Mount granted a month for debt
Berkshire Bank agrees to extend the deadline for Edith Wharton's estate to pay $3 million
By Ellen G. Lahr, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Article Last Updated: 03/15/2008 05:21:21 AM EDT

Saturday, March 15
LENOX — Berkshire Bank, which is warning of foreclosure proceedings against The Mount, has extended a deadline to raise $3 million following a $30,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Berkshire said it had extended the deadline by 30 days. The Mount, the historic house and gardens of 19th century novelist Edith Wharton, now has until April 24 to come up with $3 million required by the bank, to clear up a large chunk of the $4.3 million owed on its mortgage and line of credit, which are in default.

The bank's total debt is more than $8.7 million, and its payments to all other major creditors are in default.

Stephanie Copeland, president and CEO of the Edith Wharton Restoration, said Berkshire Bank has "very graciously" agreed to the extension in light of new funds, which will cover operations for another 30 days.

Since Feb. 24, The Mount has raised more than $520,000 with an all-out fundraising blitz that seizes on the bank's foreclosure threat. The new, $30,000 grant will boost the numbers further.

"We have some very good friends in very high places who made this possible," Copeland said. "The National Endowment is extremely
concerned about The Mount, and saving it."

"We are all over this," said board trustee Gordon Travers, who said he and the trustees are on the phone almost daily with each other and with Copeland.

Meanwhile, however, The Mount's prized collection of Edith Wharton's private library collection, purchased in 2005 for $2.5 million, could be in jeopardy.

British bookseller George Ramsden is owed $900,000 in connection with the book sale and did not receive his second scheduled payment last year. He holds a secured lien on the books and has sent a letter indicating he will reclaim them if The Mount cannot make good on its payments.

Copeland said she understood the letter was as "a pro forma" communication to secure Ramsden's rights, and was not immediately concerned. (Read the rest)

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