our main residence, was named after Elihu Burritt (1810-1879), a philanthropist and peace advocate, known as the "Learned Blacksmith."
Born in New Britain, Connecticut, and self-educated, Burritt moved to New Marlborough (the location of our main campus) around the age of twenty. Hired as a blacksmith (he had been an apprentice smithy since sixteen), Burritt worked for about a year at a small stone foundry on a stream running through the village - directly behind our present ROONEY HOUSE. It was reported that Burritt devoured Latin, Greek, Spanish, and German texts (propped on the forge) in between turning out andirons, shovels, and tongs.
Over the years, Burritt spearheaded a plan for a congress of nations to formulate international law and a court of nations to interpret law and settle controversies by peaceful means. As editor of the influential "Advocate of Peace" magazine, he explored ideas for universal brotherhood - ideas that helped establish the groundwork for the Hague Tribunal, the League of Nations, and the United Nations.
On the village green in New Marlborough there is a striking stone monument - topped with an anvil - paying tribute to the Learned Blacksmith; just down the road is our BURRITT HALL where the process of learning and healing continues.... RFW
Our WILBUR HOUSES in Lee,
are named after Richard Wilbur, from nearby Cummington. After earning the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, both in poetry, Dick left his position as writer-in-residence at Smith College (1987) to become Poet Laureate of the United States, the highest national honor bestowed upon an American poet.
Dick and I developed a friendship in the late 1970s, owing to the fact that we both shared a love of poetry, that he had served in the U.S. Army with my father, and that he had a challenged daughter. "I can't tell you how pleased I am that you should wish to name the Lee manor house," he had written me in February 1981. "It sounds like an exceptional school. As the father of an autistic child I can of course feel very close to its purpose. Please accept my poem, 'The Writer,' in appreciation."
Whether for teachers of challenged students or for parents raising children, Dick's poem rings true. After all, it is about believing in yourself and believing in others - RFW
The Writer, By Richard Wilbur
In her room at the prow of the house
Where light breaks, and the windows are tossed with linden,
My daughter is writing a story.
I pause in the stairwell, hearing
From her shut door a commotion of typewriter-keys
Like a chain hauled over a gunwale.
Young as she is, the stuff
Of her life is a great cargo, and some of it heavy:
I wish her a lucky passage.
But now it is she who pauses,
As if to reject my thought and its easy figure.
A stillness greatens, in which
The whole house seems to be thinking,
And then she is at it again with a bunched clamor
Of strokes, and again is silent.
I remember the dazed starling
Which was trapped in that very room, two years ago;
How we stole in, lifted a sash
And retreated, not to affright it;
And how for a helpless hour, through the crack of the door,
We watched the sleek, wild, dark
And iridescent creature
Batter against the brilliance, drop like a glove
To the hard floor, or the desk-top,
And wait then, humped and bloody,
For the wits to try it again; and how our spirits
Rose when, suddenly sure,
It lifted off from a chair-back,
Beating a smooth course for the right window
And clearing the sill of the world.
It is always a matter, my darling,
Of life or death, as I had forgotten. I wish
What I wished you before, but harder.
one of our on-campus group homes, was named after the distinguished inventor William Stanley, Jr. (1858-1916). Under Stanley's successful direction, our neighboring Great Barrington became the first town in America to transmit high voltage alternating current electricity by the principles employed today.
Working with industrialist George Westinghouse, he established a power plant in an abandoned rubberwear factory on Cottage Street and, in 1886, lighted lamps in 25 Main Street stores and offices. He later established a Pittsfield, Massachusetts, factory which evolved into today's General Electric transformer works. Perhaps as needed respite, Stanley owned and "summered" in our present Stanley House.
Confession time - My brush with history. As a boy, I briefly lived in the Stanley House too, on the second floor, last room on the right. However, as my subsequent marks from our local high school would attest, Mr. Stanley's genius never wore off on me - RFW