Unlike Spice, the Mount is still in business, but the historic Lenox mansion and gardens of 19th century novelist Edith Wharton can't be reincarnated in some other form. Burdened by $8.7 million in debt, half of which it owes to Berkshire Bank, the Mount must dig itself out or face foreclosure.

Speaking in general terms at yesterday's meeting at The Eagle, Berkshire Bank head Michael Daly said the bank extends credit to any customer only with confidence of positive results. Extrapolating that to the Mount, the bank's confidence has not been justified, as the Edith Wharton Restoration only dug itself deeper into debt as its line of credit was extended through three years of increasingly larger operating deficits. The foreclosure notice was a needed if belated wake-up call.

It is noteworthy that the Mount has not generated the visible public support that Spice has. It has not tied itself closely to the Berkshires and has not made a concerted effort to overcome the bad feeling generated by its eviction of Shakespeare & Company. The newly reconstituted Board of Directors may be sharp financially but its members as a whole don't know the Berkshires or the state, and the movers and shakers therein who might help the Mount get out of its dilemma.

Trustee Gordon Travers told The Eagle via conference call that the Mount needs a seasoned development director to rebuild the financial base if it "makes it through this crisis," suggesting dissatisfaction with current management.

The Mount will need that director, along with the kind of Berkshire connection Edith Wharton would recognize. With the summer tourist season approaching and the Mount planning on opening its doors to visitors while engaging in emergency fundraising, we hope it survives this crisis and emerges refocused, if not reincarnated.