Ferrer Colony and Ferrer Modern School

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Stucco relief from the Sam Goldman house in the Ferrer Colony.

The Ferrer Colony and the associated Ferrer Modern School was an anarchist intentional community founded in 1911 in New York City. In 1915 it moved to Piscataway in Middlesex County, New Jersey.[1] The Ferrer Modern School opened later. It lasted for more than 40 years before finally closing in 1953. The project was named after Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia, an educator, activist and anarchist who founded the Modern School movement in Spain.[2][3]


The intentional community was run by consensus decision-making. Inhabitants were free to leave or join, with no questions asked. It gained a reputation for being a center of the free love movement, which drew in new inhabitants.[2]

The colony purchased farmland for about $100 a plot. The plot was then sold to a community member for $150. By 1922, at their peak, 90 homes had been established. Some of the homes were only lived in during the weekend because people commuted to work in New York City.[2]

Ferrer School[edit]

The Ferrer School was originally at 103 East 107th Street, and housed children of strikers from the 1912 Lawrence textile strike and 1913 Paterson silk strike.[4]

Goldman House[edit]

Goldman House
Goldman House, Piscataway.jpg
Ferrer Colony and Ferrer Modern School is located in Middlesex County, New Jersey
Ferrer Colony and Ferrer Modern School
Location 143 School Street
Piscataway, New Jersey
Coordinates 40°31′47″N 74°26′04″W / 40.5297°N 74.4344°W / 40.5297; -74.4344
Built 1915[6][6][7]
NRHP Reference # 10000813[5]
NJRHP # 4967[8]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP October 1, 2010
Designated NJRHP April 28, 2010

Samuel Goldman (1882-1969) began building the Russian House in the Modern School colony in 1915.[6][6][7] The building was added to the New Jersey Register of Historic Places and the National Register of Historic Places in 2010.[5][8] This house is significant as the remaining building most evocative of the colony, and for the Goldman-designed sculptures and bas-reliefs on the building's facades.[9]


The Ferrer Colony and Modern School disbanded in 1953. During the Second World War the US Government bought the surrounding land, and the colony was subject to theft, vandalism.[2][10] Parents then stopped sending their children to the school. Between 1955 and 1958, the assets of the school were sold off.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Followers of Spanish Anarchist Take Over School Site in Jersey." (PDF). New York Times. May 18, 1915. Retrieved 2009-05-16. Three hundred followers of Francisco Ferrer, the anarchist, who was put to death in Barcelona, Spain, on October 9, 1909, dedicated yesterday a Ferrer school ... 
  2. ^ a b c d David Wallechinsky (1975). The Peoples Almanac. Doubleday & Company. Because of its anarchist philosophy the Ferrers did nothing to intrude on human relationships, whether those relationships were sanctioned by marriage, or not. As a result the Ferrer colony, like most utopian colonies, gained the reputation of being a haven for free love. 
  3. ^ Paul Avrich (2006). The Modern School Movement: Anarchism and Education in the United States. AK Press. ISBN 1-904859-09-7. Colonies were founded at Stelton, New Jersey, and later at Mohegan, New York. Schools were opened in a dozen locations, more than anywhere else in the world ... 
  4. ^ "May Day Parades By 50,000 Workers". New York Times. May 2, 1913. 
  5. ^ a b "Weekly list of actions taken on properties: 9/27/10 through 10/01/10". National Park Service. October 8, 2010. Retrieved February 13, 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c d Mark Sceurman. Uncle Sam’s House: Anarchy in Piscataway. Weird NJ. Goldman built 143 School Street in 1915 in an anarchist community known as the Ferrar Colony and Modern School. Most of the street names in the commune reflected the ideals and ... 
  7. ^ a b Randall Gabrielan (2001-06-01). Piscataway Township. ISBN 9780738504391. Sculptor Samuel Goldman built his house at 141 School Street with his own hands. It was an eclectic series of assembled cubes. ... 
  8. ^ a b "New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places – Middlesex County" (PDF). NJ DEP – Historic Preservation Office. June 2, 2011. p. 7. Retrieved 2011-06-06. 
  9. ^ Nancy Zerbe; Blaire Walsh; Jennifer Warren; Jon Scott (November 2008). "National Register of Historic Places Registration Form: Goldman House" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved 2015-02-13. 
  10. ^ Laurence Veysey, The Communal Experience: Anarchist and Mystical Communities in Twentieth-Century America (Chicago, 1978) p. 77-78
  11. ^ "The Stelton Modern School". Talking History. Retrieved 2009-05-26. Between 1955 and 1958 the Trustees of the school met to sell off the remaining property and divest the school's assets. An annual stipend was given to Alexis Ferm, now in retirement. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°32′24″N 74°24′54″W / 40.540°N 74.415°W / 40.540; -74.415