Executive Focus: Susan Wissler / The Mount | Deal

Executive Focus: Susan Wissler / The Mount |  Deal

Location: 2 Plunkett St., Lenox The Mount

Contact information: EdithWharton.org The Mount does more than preserve the legacy of one of the greatest authors of the Gilded Age. It also has turned into a cultural center that celebrates writers and the art of writing, a transformation that allowed The Mount to rebound from the dire financial straits that it found itself in during the Great Recession.

Employees:  14 year-round; 40 to 50 from May to October. We spoke with the native Californian recently about why she changed careers, The Mount’s role in preserving Wharton’s considerable legacy, how dire the property’s financial situation actually was, and a few things about Wharton that most people don’t know.

Founded: Edith Wharton designed and built The Mount in 1902. The Edith Wharton Restoration, the nonprofit that runs the property, formed in the 1970s.  Mission: The Mount, a National Historic Landmark and cultural center, celebrates the intellectual, artistic and humanitarian legacy of author Edith Wharton.

A: I attribute it to serendipity. … My last legal job was with a firm in Pittsfield, Katz, Murphy & Greenwald. When David Katz passed away, I decided that maybe I would prefer to be outside for a while. So, I took a couple of years and was a carpenter, landscaper and painter, just sort of odd jobs here and there. Q: You have a law degree and have practiced law in three states. How did you become involved with historic preservation?

Q: Had you always been interested in this field? I applied for the job and fell in love with the property. I was fortunate enough to be hired and have never looked back. I was sort of envying my stint as an itinerant handy person, and a friend made me aware of a position open at The Mount. I think I maybe had attended one Shakespeare & Company performance there years before. They were looking for someone to run operations; this was in 2001.

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