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  Black Mountain College Project

1930s

1950s

 

 

  1940s

In 1941, Black Mountain College moved across the valley to its own campus at Lake Eden where it remained until its closing. The Lake Eden property had been developed as a summer resort and camp with a lakeside dining hall, two lodges and several small cottages. When plans for a campus designed by Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer had to be abandoned because of the impending war, the college turned to an American architect, A. Lawrence Kocher, for a simpler plan. During the 1940-41 school year, students and faculty constructed the Studies Building, a faculty cottage for Heinrich Jalowetz, music teacher, and his wife Johanna, as well as other buildings. All of the existing buildings had to be winterized. 

 

The war years brought new hardship to the college which was
too small to qualify for the wartime programs which sustained many colleges and universities. Many young Americans were drafted or left to join the war effort, and the community consisted mostly of older Americans, European refugee faculty and women students. Still, the college continued to create new programs. Work camps were held in the summertime to complete construction of the new site, and a mica, a strategic war material, was mined. The farm was operated and expanded to provide additional food.

In 1944 the first of the special summer sessions in the arts was held. The 1944 Music Institute was a celebration of the seventieth birthday of Arnold Schoenberg and brought to the small campus the most important interpreters and performers of the music of the composer. Among the art faculty for the summer sessions during this period were Willem de Kooning, Amedée Ozenfant, Lyonel Feininger, Robert Motherwell and Fannie Hillsmith.

Approval for benefits under the GI Bill of Rights was critical to the post-war survival of the college. New faculty were hired, both Americans interested in an alternative teaching environment and refugees from Europe. Young men returning from the war were eager to find a non-authoritarian atmosphere in which to study. With over ninety students, the college was its largest. Among the faculty were M.C. Richards (literature), Albert William Levi (philosophy), John Wallen (psychology), David Corkran (history), Ilya Bolotowsky (art), Theodore Rondthaler (history and Latin), Trude Guermonprez (weaving), Max Wilhelm Dehn (mathematics) and Josef and Anni Albers. As the college's reputation as a unique environment in which the arts could be studied spread, more and more students interested in the arts enrolled, among them Arthur Penn, Kenneth Noland, Robert Rauschenberg, James Leo Herlihy and Ruth Asawa. John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Willem de Kooning, Beaumont and Nancy Newhall and Buckminster Fuller taught at the 1948 summer session. At the time they were all struggling and unknown artists.

In the spring of 1949, after a year of dissension and bitter conflict, Josef and Anni Albers, Theodore Dreier and other faculty resigned. They had been at the college since its beginnings and had provided continuity and structure. There remained a community divided within itself about the direction the college should take.