Black Mountain College opens in buildings rented from the Blue Ridge
Association. It is located southwest of the village of Black Mountain, North
Carolina and eighteen miles east of the city of Asheville. (Blue
The 1619-acre property, developed as a summer conference center for the
YMCA, is mostly woodland. Robert E. Lee Hall. a hotel-like assembly
building with a large lobby, is the center of college life. The dining
hall and kitchen are joined to Lee Hall by a covered walkway. Faculty with
children live in nearby cottages. Adjoining buildings are used for music
practice. The college also uses the gymnasium.
The rent for the 1933-34 academic year is $4,500.
Dr. Willis Duke
Weatherford, Executive Secretary of the Blue Ridge Association and
President of the YMCA Graduate School in Nashville, Tennessee, represents
the Blue Ridge Association.
On October 2, 1933, less than a week after the college opens, the Blue Ridge property is auctioned in foreclosure proceedings
at 12 o'clock noon on the Buncombe County Courthouse steps in Asheville.
This nullifies the college’s lease. The property is purchased by the
American Life Insurance Company for $45,000. A neighbor, whom the college
believes is hostile, raises the bid. Weatherford
has ten days in which to match the highest bid. He is able to regain the
property in the name of Blue Ridge College, Inc.
In January Black Mountain College negotiates a new lease for the spring of
1934 and 1934-35 on terms similar to the previous lease. The new lease
includes the right to use the farm land, the rent to be covered by repairs
and one-half the produce for the Blue Ridge Association.
Attempts to obtain a long term lease or a lease with an option to buy the
Blue Ridge property are futile. The situation is so unstable that the
college cannot issue its catalogue for the next year until the fall term
has begun as it is never sure where it will be located.
The college negotiates a lease with Blue Ridge College, Inc. for 1935-36
for a rental of $4,500 (plus $2,000 heat installation at the college's
expense) and the option to renew for 1936-37 by January 1, 1936 for $6,000. If
the property has not been sold or leased to someone else, the college can
renew after January 1, 1936. The college can add heating equipment to
Robert E. Lee Hall, and, should the college move, it can remove any movable
features it has added.
William Lescaze and
his wife visit the college.
In June the college signs a five-year lease, renewable annually before
June 2 at the college’s option, for $4,500 per year, on the condition that
Weatherford can sell the property or lease to anyone else
for a higher figure before January 1 of the year preceding the term of the
annual lease. The college can lease some cottages for the summer months.
Black Mountain College exercises the first of the five-year options to
lease the Blue Ridge property.
On June 14, 1937, as
insurance against a possible ouster from the Blue Ridge buildings, the
college purchases from the trustees of the E.W. Grove Estate the "Lake
Eden Property," consisting of approximately 674 acres and the “Royal
League Property” of 52 acres for $35,000. $17,500 is paid in cash, with
the balance due in four equal installments of $4,375 on or before 2, 3, 4
and 5 years at 6% interest. The purchase is made possible by a gift of
$12,500 by Stephen Forbes, a former student, and $800 of the $2,000 in
underwriting which Edward and Ethel Dreier, parents of Theodore Dreier,
pledged at the college’s founding and of which they made a gift..
The property had been developed in 1923-24 by E.W. Grove as a camp for
girls. It was also operated as a summer inn. A newspaper article in the
Asheville-Citizen notes that there were fourteen buildings on the land
including two large guest houses, a “spacious casino dining and dance
pavilion overlooking the lake”, several cottages and a bath house, all of
rustic design except for one stone cottage. It also includes a fifteen-acre
artificially-damned lake and, of special interest to the college, farmland. (Lake Eden property)
The college operates the Lake Eden property as a summer resort at a rent
of $2,000 under a lease taken over at the time of purchase.
Black Mountain College exercises the second of the five-year option to
lease the Blue Ridge property.
founder of the Bauhaus and Chairman of the Department of Architecture at
makes his first visit to Black Mountain College.
The college operates the Lake Eden property as a summer inn.
In July Theodore Dreier meets
Lawrence Kocher, former editor of the Architectural Record, at Fort Salonga,
New York. Kocher suggests that
Marcel Breuer, Josef Albers, and Xanti Schawinsky should collaborate on
plans for Lake Eden.
Black Mountain College exercises the third of the five-year option to
lease the Blue Ridge property.
college constructs a small barn on the Lake Eden property as well as hog
pens. A farmer moves into the farm house. (Farm buildings)
In January $115 is ratified for the purchase of a tract of land of 1 ½
acres adjoining the Lake Eden property on the southeast corner of the
In the fall
designer of the Bauhaus exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, visits the
college. He declines an invitation to join the faculty.
In January the college
Walter Gropius and
Marcel Breuer to design buildings for the
Lake Eden campus. The plans call for a dormitories, studios, faculty
housing, workshops, a theater, and other facilities. (Gropius-Breuer
Herbert Bayer has
an exhibition at the college.
makes his first visit to the college to discuss the college's plans for
the Lake Eden campus.
local labor, the college constructs a small cottage on the Lake Eden
property. They general layout is provided by Josef Albers. The cottage is
called at times New Cottage, Finley’s Fancy (a tribute to one of the
builders), and Wood’s Cottage (for Mac and Emily Wood, who lived there). (New
Willis Weatherford notifies the college that he has a ten-year contract
beginning in September 1940. Black Mountain must duplicate the offer or
loose its lease. Frustrated by the uncertainty of the Blue Ridge
situation, the college decides to prepare for a permanent move to the Lake
Eden property. Weatherford withdraws the ultimatum.
The college operates the Lake Eden property as an inn.
The Gropius-Breuer plans
are completed and a model is constructed. Fundraising begins. (Gropius-Breuer
Plans) (Photograph: Ezra Stoller © Esto)
Black Mountain College exercises the fourth of the five year options to
lease the Blue Ridge property.
January 9, 1940 the model and plans for the Gropius-Breuer designs for
Lake Eden are exhibited at the Museum of Modern
Art in New York. Josef Albers and
speak on the college’s educational ideals and the building design. A
fundraising campaign is initiated.
Both the uncertainty of the college’s current housing situation and the
lack of a board of trustees to insure continuity of management and
institutional purpose make fundraising difficult. The college tries to
negotiate a long-term lease for the Blue Ridge property. It hopes for a
second five-year lease as well as commitments
by key members of the faculty to remain at the college for five years.
This would allow time to raise the requisite $500,000 for the Gropius-Breuer buildings and to
reassure donors of a commitment to the
college on the part of a number of faculty.
Walter Gropius is
appointed to the Advisory Council. He remains a member until the
resignation of Josef Albers in the spring of 1949.
Willis Weatherford notifies the college that it must vacate the Blue Ridge
property by June 1941.
In May Marcel Breuer visits the college with his wife Connie as graduation examiner for the
college's first four graduates in art: Hope Stephens (Foote),
Lloyd Andrews, Bela Martin, and Alexander (William) Reed.
On June 12 a second fundraising meeting for the Gropius-Breuer plans is held at the Museum of Modern Art. The college’s
campaign to raise the initial $75,000 to begin construction has been
On June 20, faced with the necessity of a move in less than a
year, the college realizes that it must abandon, at least temporarily, the Gropius-Breuer plans. It’s options are (1) to hope for a last minute
reprieve in the form of a new lease with Blue Ridge if Weatherford’s new
tenant withdraws, (2) to locate other property that can be leased while
funds are raised for the Gropius-Breuer plans, or (3) to move to Lake Eden
in simpler buildings.
Marcel Breuer visits the college to monitor construction of a
house he designed for Dr. Sprinza Weizenblatt,
an Asheville resident. He discusses the
possibility of simpler plans to be designed by Gropius and Breuer. It is
decided this is not feasible. (Photo by Claude Stoller)
The college decides to make every effort to prepare Lake Eden for
occupancy in September 1941.
Richard Gothe, co-founder
and secretary of
Work Camps of America, visits in the spring. He lectures on "Experience
with Youth at Work and Study" and "Economics in Everyday Life."
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt asks Congress for over a billion dollars to
develop the defenses of the United States. It is clear that the nation is
moving to a wartime economy and that fundraising will be more difficult
and building materials restricted.
Lawrence Kocher, innovative American architect and former editor of The Architectural Record, is to
invited to Lake Eden to give suggestions to the Board of Fellows.
Serge Chermayeff visits the
college in the spring. He had recently arrived in the United States and
was to accept a position as head of the design department at the Chicago
School of Design (later the Chicago Institute of Design).
The college operates the Lake Eden property as an inn.
Lawrence Kocher visits Black Mountain College. He is
commissioned to design simpler buildings that can be constructed
using student and faculty labor. The plans are completed by the end
of the summer. (Kocher
Black Mountain College exercises the fifth year of its five-year option to
lease the Blue Ridge property.
Josef and Anni Albers are granted a sabbatical for the fall semester. They
travel to Mexico and the Southwest. Anni Albers returns to Black Mountain
for the spring semester; Josef Albers teaches at Harvard University. The
art curriculum for the 1940-41 academic year focuses on construction and
architectural classes taught by
Lawrence Kocher. (Architecture curriculum)
visits the college when in the area to monitor the construction of the
Weizenblatt House in Asheville.
Charles Godfrey, a local builder, is hired to direct construction of the
Studies Building and to supervise construction of other buildings.
Lawrence Kocher, former editor of the Architectural Record and
Visiting Professor of Architecture at the Carnegie Institute of
Technology, is appointed Visiting Professor of Architecture with full
membership in the corporation for 1940-41. In May he is appointed
Professor of Architecture from 1941-46. His salary for the first two years
is paid by a grant from the Carnegie Foundation. A gift of $1,000 from
Philip L. Goodwin, architect for the Museum of Modern, provides for the
third year at the college.
Richard Gothe is
appointed Assistant Professor of Economics and Sociology for 1940-41 and
Director of the Lake Eden Work Program.
Willo von Moltke, a German
immigrant and graduate of the Technische Hochschule in Berlin, assists
Kocher with the architectural program in November and December. He had
worked for Alva Aalto in the spring and summer.
September 1940 construction is started on the Studies Building. The Board of Fellows authorizes a sum of up to $5,000 for the
Lake Eden building program. Throughout the year funds are raised to fund
the next step in construction. Concerts, dinners and other events are
organized by students and faculty during the winter break to raise funds.
The faculty accept a sixty percent cut in salaries. The project attracts an enormous
amount of publicity throughout the United States. (Studies
The roof is celebrated with a tree ceremony before the winter break. In
June the exterior of the Studies Building is near completion, but the
interior is an empty hull.
During the five-week winter vacation students raise $6,300 for the
building program by giving concerts and lectures and solicitation of private
Under the direction of
Robert Bliss a woodworking and print shop is
the spring construction is begun on a Service Building designed by
Lawrence Kocher for the kitchen staff. The building has two bathrooms, six
bedrooms and a living room with a central hall. Robert Bliss is job
captain for the building construction. (Service
Building) (Robert Bliss)
In December architect
Luis Sert and his wife visit with
In the winter
Goodwin, architect for the Museum of Modern Art, visits the college. A
gift to the college pays Lawrence Kocher's salary for 1942-43.
In April 1941
Director of Housing Research at MIT and co-author of The Evolving House,
visits the college and lectures on housing.
BMC Newsletter, May 1941
In April 1941
Jr. visits the college on a trip south to Mexico. He gives a talk on
"Design in Everyday Things."
In May 1941
Christopher Tunnard, lecturer at the School of Design at Harvard University, visits
the college as examiner for Don Page, who graduates with majors
in both art and textile design. Marli Ehrmann is examiner in textile
In May 1941, Black Mountain
College moves its furnishings including furniture, pianos, looms, the
college press, and other materials (such as the radiators it had installed
at Blue Ridge) to Lake Eden.
In the spring F.S. Lincoln,
architectural photographer, visits the college, exhibits his photographs,
and gives a lecture on photographic technique.
The college decides not to operate the Lake Eden Inn for the summer.
Instead it sponsors two work camps, one from June 30 to July 26, the other
from July 28 to August 23, to continue construction at the Lake Eden
The summer students install oak flooring in the Studies Building. They
excavate under the inns and lodges for installation of heating systems,
construct chimneys, install insulation, subdivide attics of cottages for
faculty apartments, and build double and triple deck beds for students in
the lodges (some “counterweighted” to be raised to the ceiling in the
daytime to provide study space).
Construction of the Service Building for a “dozen colored people who live
and work on the place” is completed in August.
bathhouse is renovated to provide science classrooms, a darkroom, and
studies. The work is directed by a student, Fernando Leon. Fred Coolidge, a
camper from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, is responsible for
replacing the rotted sills beneath the concrete floor of the bathhouse. (Science
of the Jalowetz House, a small house designed by A. Lawrence Kocher for
Heinrich and Johanna Jalowetz is begun. The student supervisor is
Claude Stoller. (Jalowetz
Construction on a barn designed by Lawrence Kocher is started. (Farm
Marcel Breuer visits the college when in Asheville to address the North
Carolina chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).
Work continues on the Studies Building. Plywood walls are added to the
Mary 'Molly' Gregory, a
member of Bennington College's first graduation class who is teaching at
the Cambridge School in Kendal Greene, Massachusetts, is appointed
Apprentice Teacher to Josef Albers. She is later appointed to the faculty
to teach woodworking and remains at the college through the summer of
1947. Her instruction and skills are essential in the architectural work
at the college.
Howard Dearstyne, an
American who had received his Diploma from the Bauhaus in 1932 and
subsequently studied privately with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, is appointed
Visiting Instructor in Architecture and Assistant to Lawrence Kocher from
November 1941 through May 1942. He works on site plans and teaches
architectural structure and design.
By October one-half of the insulation of the cottages is completed and
three heating units are in. The college is in a race against cold weather.
In December John V. Allcott,
Chairman of the Art Department at the University of North Carolina at
Chapel Hill visits the college to discuss an exhibition of modern
architecture at the university.
In February a photograph of the Studies Building is exhibited at Person
Hall Art Gallery at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
n April 1942
is appointed to the Advisory Council. In June he visits and submits
designs for bomb shelters by BMC
architecture students designs to a competition with MIT
students. The design by
Don Page, a student, wins honor ranking. At the
time Burchard is Chairman of the Committee for Civilian Defense of the
National Academy of Science.
The completion of the barn
celebrated in May with a dance.
By June 1942 most men students and many faculty have
left to join the war effort. With a drastically reduced student body and
smaller income from tuition, the college faces the possibility that it
will have to close for the duration of the war. Members of the Dreier
family and Elizabeth C. Morrow (through the Elisabeth Reeve Morrow
Morgan Foundation) underwrite a second mortgage totaling $18,000 on the
A milk house, started in the spring, is completed, and work is begun on two
The college sponsors a Work Camp. Kocher teaches a course "Architecture: After the War."
Anatole Kopp, a French
refugee who is completing his Master of Architecture degree at MIT, visits
the college when traveling on a summer fellowship, He participates in the
summer work camp for a week.
Lou Bernard Voigt, a
landscape architect and a graduate of the School of Design of Harvard
University, visits the college for a month.
Kopp is appointed Instructor of Architecture from October 27, 1942 through
September 18, 1943. He leaves at the end of the spring quarter.
Lou Bernard Voigt
is appointed Instructor in Landscape Architecture and Botany for 1942-43.
He makes a site plan for the college and pen and ink drawings of the
Horace McGuire "Mac" Wood
is appointed Instructor of Contracting and Building Construction in
September. He remains at Black Mountain through December 1945. He is a
away from the college for the 1943 summer and the winter and spring
As a memorial to Mark
Dreier, the nine-year old son of Theodore and Barbara Dreier who died in
an automobile accident at the college on October 8, 1941, Alexander
a Black Mountain College graduate and assistant to Josef Albers, designs
and builds a small stone house of meditation. Reed weaves the curtains, and Mary Gregory designs and builds oak
benches. The house is intended as "a place to get away, if only for an
hour, from the pressure and busy-ness of the College." (Quiet
On the farm the second silo is constructed in the fall. In the spring a 20
x 60' shed for farm machinery is constructed using lumber from the college
property. It incorporates a 1200 bushel corn crib at one end. Hot houses
are also constructed. (Farm
Anatole Kopp, working with
music and architecture students, directs construction of the the first two
of four music practice cubicles designed by
A. Lawrence Kocher. Because
of wartime restrictions on construction materials, the college uses
material salvaged from the college property. (Music
In April Kocher requests a leave of absence to work on post-war projects
and returns to New York. In July the leave is extended. He does not return
to the college. With Howard Dearstyne he writes "The Architectural Center: An Organization to
Coordinate Building Research, Planning, Design, and Construction" which is
published in New Pencil Points in July 1943.
The college sponsors a Summer Work Camp for "Students in Architecture and
Those Interested in Building."
Lawrence Kocher teaches for two weeks (July
Lou Bernard Voigt until August 4. Because of restrictions on
wartime building materials the work is primarily maintenance of existing
buildings. Concurrent with the Work Camp, the college sponsors a Seminar
on America for Foreign Scholars, Teachers and Artists and a Summer School.
Josef Albers teachers Basic Design and Color, and
Woodworking, at the Summer School.
Service Building is destroyed by fire. It was insured for $2,250, the
cost of materials.
In November construction on a beef cattle shed attached to the main barn
is begun (Farm
buildings). It is completed in the spring. Work is also underway on an
extension to the science building. The extension is to be used as a
magnesium laboratory for chemist Fritz Hansgirg and as a photo lab.
Work continues on the music practice cubicles (Music
practice cubicles). In November the second
cubicle is under construction.
Plans are drawn for a new Service Building with a wooden frame and
non-critical fire-resistant panels on the foundation of the first
structure. The college is not able to obtain the necessary government
permit from the War Production Board for construction of a separate
In the spring,
H. McGuire Wood designs a five-room addition to
to house kitchen staff who have been living in Black Dwarf since the
Service Building fire. Permission for construction is granted by the War
Production Board since it is an addition, not a new structure. In June a
gift from Stephen Forbes, a former student, is used to add a basement with a living room,
three bedrooms, a bath, and a large storage room. Construction, directed
by a former student
Charles Forberg, is completed in the summer.
The two-story lobby in
South Lodge is split to make a second story
to provide extra dormitory space.
The hallways of the Studies Building were left unfinished in 1941
because the college did not have enough money for paneling. In
the summer of 1944 the college obtains enough random-width wormy chestnut
to finish the first fifty feet of each end of the upper floor hallway and the
tower end of the lower floor hallway.
Jean Charlot, Mexican muralist and a member of the college faculty, paints frescoes “Knowledge” and “Inspiration” on two pylons
of the Studies Building. (Charlot
murals). The stone terrace is finished and graveled.
Walter Gropius, Chairman of
the Architecture Department at Harvard University, is guest faculty for a
week in August at the Summer Art Institute. He gives two community lectures on "Site
and Shelter after the War."
The college decides to construct a one-story structure for the kitchen
staff on the foundation of the
Service Building to help alleviate the
H. McGuire Wood is in charge of the design and
construction. The structure will cover one-half of the subfloor of the
original building and will have three bedrooms connected by a hallway. The
building is constructed in the spring and summer.
An article on the Studies Building, "College in Black Mountain, N.C., designed by A. Lawrence Kocher. Students
and volunteers did a great part of the manual labor on the 75 room
building,” appears in the June 1945
issue of Architectural Forum.
In February Mr. and Mrs.
Harold Bush-Brown visit their son Richard, who is a student.
Paul Beidler, an architect recommended to the college by Walter
Gropius, visits the college. He is appointed Instructor in Architecture
and Consulting Engineer from May 11-June 18, 1945 and for the 1945 Summer
Art Institute. He designs a one-room music practice cubicle, the
first of four he hopes to build. Permission is obtained from the War
Production Board and the first and only one constructed is built in June.
Beidler leaves at the end of the summer due to post-war commitments. (Music
William W. Wurster
and Catherine Bauer Wurster visit the college for two days. He gives an
informal lecture on "Modern Architecture," and she, on "Housing."
In May 1945
Walter Gropius visit the college to attend
an Advisory Council meeting.
Walter Gropius is guest
faculty in August at the Summer Art Institute. He gives four lectures on
"Modern Architecture." A summary of his lectures is published as "Living
Architecture" in the April 1946 issue of Design, which is devoted
to the 1945 Summer Art Institute.
Paul Beidler teaches
architecture. The college hopes he will remain to direct a construction
program at the college and teach courses in basic architecture. He cannot
due to the reactivation of pre-war contracts.
Felix Payant, editor of
Design magazine visits for a week. He devotes the April1946 issue of
Design to the 1945 Summer Art Institute program.
Pierre Chareau, who was recommended to the college by Robert
Motherwell as a possible teacher of architecture, visits the college and
gives a lecture.
locates wormy chestnut lumber to finish the hallways in the
In the fall
Walter Gropius recommends two young architects,
Jean Fletcher to the college which is hopeful that they will join the
community as resident architects. They decide instead to join The
Architects' Collaborative (TAC), a firm being organized in Cambridge. Walter Gropius
is a founding member of the group.
In November 1945 John Burchard visits the college for an Advisory Council meeting.
He delivers a lecture on "The Problems of Reconstruction in Europe," and suggests
the college might use temporary housing in the form of Quonset huts or
In December 1945
Goldberg writes that he would like to contribute a plan and materials
for a small building to be constructed at the college as a memorial to his wife
Claire who died in November and as a resting place for her ashes. In
February he visits Josef and Anni Albers at the college.
The college divides its architectural program into two phases:
housing to relieve the immediate post-war needs and (2) long range plans and permanent buildings to supplement and replace
many of the existing structures.
In January the college files an application for housing from the Federal
Housing Authority under the Lanpan Act. In May the college is allotted
four 20 x 100 foot buildings to be used as married student housing,
dormitories and studies. The college expects the buildings to arrive in
time for occupancy in the fall. (FHA
In February the college
commissions TAC to prepare long range plans and site plans. In March
visits BMC for three weeks to discuss long range plans, to make site plans of the campus, and to discuss
plans for a women's dormitory for sixty students. In May he sends preliminary plans for a
dormitory for forty women students. Don Wight, a student working with
other members of the community, presents an alternative plan for small
units combining sleeping and study space for six students. (TAC
and student plans) Community Meetings are held and opinions and
petitions are submitted.
In the spring the Kocher-Kopp
music cubicles "never finished, tired and shabby, are torn down and very
The April 1946 issue of
Design magazine, devoted to the 1945 Summer Art Institute at Black
Mountain College, includes articles "Architecture at Black Mountain
College" by Paul Beidler, "'Living' Architecture or 'International
Style'?" by Walter Gropius, and articles by Josef and Anni Albers,
On May 26 Walter Gropius
and Marcel Breuer participate in an Exhibition of Modern Houses benefit for
Black Mountain College.
Mary Gregory and students begin construction to raise the roof on the farm house to
provide space for
two families. (Farm
Discussions of the TAC
plans continues throughout the summer. Although many favor small units,
there is concern that combining study and sleeping space in small units
will contribute to the formation of cliques. Fletcher is asked to design a
small dormitory for twelve students with a communal living room. Studies
are to be separate. There is to be a faculty living unit in
connection with each group of small dorm units. The college receives an
anonymous gift in the amount of $5,000 for one unit. (TAC
visits the college to determine the site for the
Art Memorial Building and Workshop. He begins to work on plans and a
Walter Gropius visits the
college for two weeks and lectures on architectural planning.
Two Canadian architecture
students from Harvard,
Harry Seidler and
Peter Oberlander, attend the
summer session. Lectures given by Seidler are condensed as "Aesthetics in
Modern Architecture" in the October 1946 issue of the Journal of the
Royal Architecture Institute of Canada. Oberlander compares the
curriculums at Harvard and Black Mountain in an article "Glimpses of the
American Scene: Architectural Education" which appears in the April 1948
issued of Architectural Design.
October Fletcher makes a new site plan and a preliminary design for a
small dorm unit.
The week of November 18 is
designated Permanent Housing Week to discuss the small dorm design and
select a site. Community meetings are held to discuss the small dorm
In the fall architect
Benjamin Baldwin visits the college. He is invited to join the faculty but
first four FHA buildings which were supposed to be ready for occupancy on
September 1 do not arrive until October. A contractor is hired to work
with student on the construction of the buildings. (FHA
The FHA buildings alleviate the immediate need for space, and the TAC
plans are eventually abandoned. One problem is the college's inability in
the postwar building boom to attract an architect to work with the
students on construction and to teach classes.
March the college obtains three additional
FHA buildings. They are used
for classes, a library and storage.
In March 1947 John Burchard resigns from the Advisory Council.
The college obtains sufficient
wormy chestnut paneling to finally finish the
paneling the hallways in the Studies Building.
The renovation of the
farmhouse is completed and the farmers and their families move in. (Farm
In the fall of 1947, the infirmary is renovated by a student, John Reiss.
Divider screens are made of translucent white chicken glass and 2 x
In October, John Allcott,
Chairman of the Department of Art at the University of North Carolina at
Chapel Hill visits Black Mountain College with his wife June to see the
modern buildings and to arrange of an exhibition of Black Mountain College
architecture in January at the university.
are eager to build, but the college is unable to attract a resident
architect. Frustrated they form an
independent architecture study group and design a small house, the Minimum
House. The mother of Paul Williams, one of the students, donates $1,000
for construction. In October the project is approved by the Board of
Using funds raised for the building program and a loan in the amount of
$10,000 from Stephen Forbes, a former student, the college pays off both
the first and second mortgages, totaling $19,750. The Forbes mortgage, the
college's only indebtedness, is payable over a ten year period at the rate
of $1,000 a year.
Bertrand Goldberg visits
the college in the spring. In June he writes that plans for the proposed
Art Memorial Building and Workshop are only partially drawn and that
he is unable to proceed due to financial losses. The project is cancelled.
The Minimum House is completed.
TAC is unable to send an
architect for the summer to begin construction of a small dorm unit.
Bertrand Goldberg is
invited to teach architecture for the summer. When he cancels at the last
minute, he recommends
Buckminster Fuller. Charles Burchard of Harvard also
teaches architecture at the summer session.
Fuller constructs his first dome the
“Supine Dome” and plays the role of
the Baron Meduse in Erik Satie’s The Ruse of Medusa.
J. Edgar Kaufman, Jr.
lectures on industrial design: "Design and Art,' "Design and Use," Design
and Profits," and "New Technologies in European Design."
On September 24, the Science Building (remodeled bathouse) is destroyed by
fire. Hazel Larsen (Archer)’s negatives are destroyed in the fire and
Fritz Hansgirg’s equipment and experiments designed to extract magnesium
from olivine are destroyed.
A milking parlor and a milk
house with a cooler are constructed under a single roof with a large
covered runway between them.
John Burchard is a member
of the committee to develop a plan for the reorganization of the college.
Buckminster Fuller directs the 1949 Summer Institute. He brings a group of
students from the Institute of Design where he had been teaching the
previous winter to continue work on their Autonomous Dwelling Facility
with a Geodesic Structure.
Craig G. Andrews and Milton
Small, architects in Raleigh, North Carolina, visit Buckminster Fuller at
the college. They are joined by architects Tallie B. Maule and Carl
Russell, who at the time are working in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
November Paul Williams presents preliminary plans for a new Science
Building. The plans are approved by the Board of Fellows. The building is
to be constructed by Williams, Dan Rice and Stan Vanderbeek as well as
other students and faculty. Stephen Forbes contributes $6,000 for
construction of the building. Work continues sporadically until 1953.
Pot Shop, designed by Robert Turner with assistance from Paul Williams, is
In the fall the college
sells seventy acres of gravel land across from the college for $30,000
(minus a ten percent commission) to
pay off the indebtedness from 1948-49 and to help with current expenses.
This is the first sale of land to support the college programs.
Work continues on the
"The lights are on in the new science laboratory on the knoll, and student
architects and builders Paul Williams and Dan Rice are hurrying to finish
the building for fall use."
Black Mountain College Bulletin, August 1950.
In April a small parcel of
land is sold to a neighbor for $2,500.
1952 a dual use tobacco barn/beef shelter is constructed.
Paul Williams makes two
$5,000 loans to the college: the first in January 1952, with the beef herd
as collateral; the second in August 1952.
Roadside Cottage, the residence of Joseph and Mary Fiore and
Wesley and Bea Huss and their sons burns. Many of Joseph Fiore’s paintings
are destroyed in the fire. Roadside was the former residence of Josef and Anni
Albers and Theodore and Barbara Dreier and their children.
In December Paul Williams
makes a third $5,000 loan to the college. In 1953 he takes a $25,000
interest-free mortgage on the farm.
David Weinrib and Karen Karnes
design an addition to the
Pot Shop. It is constructed by Jack Rice.
In the fall the college moves out of the lower
campus and into the cottages on the hill.
In September 1955 the college signs a lease-purchase agreement with Eden
Rock Park, Inc. for the lower property, including the lake. The contract
for $65,500 provides for payments of $2,000 on signing; for $13,000 on or
before September 20, 1955; $10,600 on or before August 31, 1956; and
$15,000 on or before August 31, 1957, with a purchase option for $24,900
in addition to all rental payments if exercised before August 31, 1958.
The July the
college sells the farm to Wilma G. Miller for $35,000, with $1,000 due on
the signing of the contract; $9,000 on August 17, 1956; and five
promissory notes of $5,000 each due October 9, 1956 and thereafter on or
before September 1 through 1960.
In the fall the college
decides to close the Lake Eden campus. It sponsors programs in San
Francisco and other locations through March 1957 when a judge rules that
it must cease educational program until all debts are paid.
On September 10, 1957,
George Pickering, president of Camp Rockmont and secretary-treasurer of
Eden Rock Park, Inc., exercises his option to purchase the 202 acres of
the lower property. He also purchases the upper tract. Revenue from
property sales enables the college to pay all debts, including contingent
salaries listed by faculty as a debt against the college during the 1950s.