Colony Hall and Sigma Alpha Iota Cottage
|Location||100 High Street, Peterborough, New Hampshire|
|NRHP Reference #||66000026|
|Added to NRHP||October 15, 1966|
|Designated NHLD||December 29, 1962|
Coordinates: The MacDowell Colony is an artists' colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire, United States, founded in 1907 by Marian MacDowell, pianist and wife of composer Edward MacDowell. She established the institution and its endowment chiefly with donated funds. She led the colony for almost 25 years, against a background of two world wars, the Great Depression, and other challenges.
Over the years, an estimated 6,000 artists have been supported in residence, including the winners of at least 61 Pulitzer Prizes. The colony has accepted artists, composers, playwrights, poets, and writers, both well-known and unknown.
The colony is a community of between 20 and 30 artists, who generally share breakfast and dinner in a common dining room. They frequently engage in group activities in the evenings. Stays average four to five weeks and are limited to two months. Room and board are free, and some residents also receive help with travel expenses. Each artist is assigned one of 32 studios for personal use, available on a 24-hour-a-day basis. Each studio is a separate building with power, heat, simple amenities, lunch delivered, and no telephone. Artists allow visitors by invitation only. Studios are secluded, located throughout the Colony's extensive property.
- Leonard Bernstein finished his musical theater work, MASS (1971).
- L. M. Kit Carson wrote The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) and the film adaptation of Sam Shepherd's play Paris, Texas there.
- Michael Chabon worked on The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000), which won a Pulitzer in 2001.
- Aaron Copland worked there on composing the orchestral suite Appalachian Spring (1944), a 1945 Pulitzer winner.
- Ruth Crawford Seeger worked on composing 5 Songs Set to Poems by Carl Sandburg.
- Jeffrey Eugenides started writing Middlesex (2002), which won a Pulitzer.
- Spalding Gray worked on his novel The Impossible Vacation and later chronicled his experiences at MacDowell Colony in his extended monologue Monster in a Box.
- DuBose Heyward worked on the novel Porgy (1925), the basis of the opera Porgy & Bess (1934). He met playwright Dorothy Kuhns there, and they subsequently married.
- Virgil Thomson worked on composing Mother of Us All.
- Thornton Wilder wrote his play Our Town (1938), which won a Pulitzer that year.
The composer Edward MacDowell was one of the first seven members of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He believed that interdisciplinary associations among artists were valuable.
In 1896, Marian MacDowell bought Hillcrest Farm in Peterborough, New Hampshire, as a summer residence for herself and her husband. She had always been careful to give him a quiet room for his work. Edward MacDowell found that the New Hampshire landscape enhanced his work of composing music.
The couple formulated a plan to provide an interdisciplinary experience in a nurturing landscape, by creating an institutionalized residential art colony in the area. In 1904, Edward MacDowell began to show signs of an illness that ended his composing and teaching career. He would die in 1908.
In 1907, Marian MacDowell deeded their farm to the Edward MacDowell Association and founded the MacDowell Colony. The first guests arrived that year: sisters Helen Farnsworth Mears, a sculptor, and Mary Mears, a writer. MacDowell began by inviting applicants personally, but by the 1920s had consigned the admission process to a committee.
Marian and friends raised funds among a wide variety of people for the colony, which was supported by industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, former U.S. President Grover Cleveland, financier J. P. Morgan, other prominent people, as well as many others across the country. MacDowell said the most consistent support came from women's clubs and professional music sororities (see, for example, the MacDowell Club of New York). At the age of 50, MacDowell began lecturing to women's groups to raise funds, resumed her performing career, and became a noted interpreter of her husband's work.
Through the years more separate studios were built. The program continues in dozens of buildings scattered over 450 acres (1.8 km2) of land.
Every year, the colony presents the Edward MacDowell Medal to an artist who has made a significant cultural contribution. Residency at the colony is not a requirement. Medal Day is one of the rare occasions when the colony is open to the public. The ceremony includes a keynote speech, after which the artists open their studios to visitors.
Property-tax exemption dispute
The colony, a non-profit organization, enjoys the status of a charity, entitling it to exemption from local property taxes, among other things. However, in 2005, the town of Peterborough's selectmen (local-government executives) decided to challenge MacDowell's charitable status and billed the colony for a "payment in lieu of taxes". A lawyer for the town argued that "the colony certainly benefits its artists-in-residence, but that doesn't strike us as being the general public."
The colony's board of directors paid the bill, then successfully challenged the charge. A 2007 Superior Court opinion found that the MacDowell Colony, by promoting the arts, was a charitable institution, a ruling that was upheld by the New Hampshire Supreme Court in a subsequent appeal.:p13 The appeal court found that "Contrary to the Town's assertions, MacDowell's articles of incorporation oblige it to use its property for its stated charitable purpose.":p11
- List of National Historic Landmarks in New Hampshire
- National Register of Historic Places listings in Hillsborough County, New Hampshire
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23.
- "MacDowell Colony". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2007-10-22.
- Silverman, Art (March 6, 2007). "Artists Retreat into Solitude at MacDowell Colony". All Things Considered.
- Bradford, S. Sydney & Rettig, Polly M. (January 6, 1976). National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: MacDowell Colony (PDF). National Park Service.
- Bradford, S. Sydney & Rettig, Polly (January 6, 1976). "Accompanying 5 photos, from 1907 and 1975" (PDF). National Register of Historical Places Inventory-Nomination: MacDowell Colony (National Park Service).
- National Medal of Arts (1997). "Lifetime Honors". NEA.gov.
- "Medal Day". The MacDowell Colony. Retrieved 2008-03-17.
- Winkleman, E. (November 1, 2005). "Local Government: McDowell Not Advancing Spiritual or Intellectual Well-Being of General Public". EdwardWinkleman.com.
- Brooks, Anthony (Author) & Inskeep, Steve (Host) (October 13, 2005). "Town Demands Taxes from Long-Exempt Artists' Colony". All Things Considered (NPR).
- "Town of Peterborough v. The MacDowell Colony, Inc." (PDF). The Supreme Court of New Hampshire. 2008-03-14. Retrieved 2008-03-17.
- Siegel J. (March 18, 2008). "The blood sucking vampires are circling: a victory for charity that should make all charities nervous". Charity Governance Consulting LLC.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to MacDowell Colony.|
- MacDowell Colony
- "Exhibits: The MacDowell Colony 1907–2007". Library of Congress. 2007.
- AP (December 21, 2006). "Story about the taxes". Ap.org.
- Hagedorn, Hermann (December 28, 1921). "The Peterborough Colony: "A Workshop, With A Wonderland Thrown In," For Creative Workers In The Seven Arts". The Outlook (Outlook Publishing Company, Inc.) 129: 686–688. Retrieved 2009-07-30.