In 1902—on the slopes of Mount Guardian, overlooking the village of Woodstock—Ralph Radcliffe Whitehead, Hervey White and Bolton Brown launched a utopian experiment in living. Calling it Byrdcliffe (from the middle names of Whitehead and his wife, Jane Byrd McCall), the founders hoped to provide a back-to-Earth antidote to some of the less positive sociological effects of the Industrial Revolution.
Their vision was to combine a country life with manual and intellectual activity. They extended a welcome to any craftsmen who were in sympathy with these ideas and would help to realize them. Among the artisans who came were woodworkers, bookbinders, potters, weavers, picture framers and designers of furniture. In later years, these artists were joined by painters, sculptors, writers, dancers, musicians, poets and filmmakers-creating a fully rounded Colony of the Arts.
In 2002 and 2003, the people of Woodstock joined together to rededicate our town and our creative spirit to the ideals of the Byrdcliffe Colony. We launched, beginning in June of 2002, a 16-month Centennial Celebration—a living memorial comprised of festivals large and small.