Yaddo: Wikis


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Yaddo is an artists' community located on a 400 acre (1.6 km²) estate in Saratoga Springs, New York. Its mission is "to nurture the creative process by providing an opportunity for artists to work without interruption in a supportive environment". It offers residencies to artists working in any of the following media: choreography, film, literature, musical composition, painting, performance art, photography, printmaking, sculpture, and video."



The estate was purchased in 1881 by the venture capitalist Spencer Trask and his wife, author Katrina Trask. The first mansion on the property burned down in 1893 and the Trasks then built the current house. Yaddo is an invented word, by one of the Trask children, meant to rhyme with shadow.[1]

Artists' colony

In 1900, upon the premature death of the Trasks' four children,[1] Spencer Trask decided to turn the estate into an artist's retreat as a gift to his wife. He did this with the financial assistance of philanthropist George Foster Peabody. The first artists moved in in 1926. The success of Yaddo encouraged Spencer and Katrina to later donate land for a working women's retreat center as well, known as Wiawaka Holiday House, at the request of Mary Wiltsie Fuller.[2]

Yaddo has hosted more than 6,000 artists,[3] including Newton Arvin, Milton Avery, James Baldwin, Leonard Bernstein, Truman Capote, John Cheever, Aaron Copland, Kenneth Fearing, Daniel Fuchs, Philip Guston, Ruth Heller, Patricia Highsmith, Langston Hughes, Ted Hughes, Tamara Jenkins, Miranda July, Alfred Kazin, Ulysses Kay, Jacob Lawrence, Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, Henry Roth, Philip Roth, Katherine Anne Porter, Mario Puzo, Clyfford Still, Virgil Thomson, Colm Tóibín, Flannery O'Connor, Anne Truitt, and Byron Vazakas.

As happened elsewhere during the McCarthy Era, the peace and quiet cultivated in the place of refuge that was the colony was shattered in 1949 when a news story broke accusing writer Agnes Smedley of spying for the Soviet Union. Smedley had traveled with Mao Zedong to report on the Chinese Communist Revolution. In 1943, she visited Yaddo and remained there for the next five years. Poet Robert Lowell pushed the Board of Directors to oust Yaddo's director Elizabeth Ames who was being questioned by the FBI. However, she was eventually exonerated of all charges, though she learned from the investigation that her assistant Mary Townsend was an FBI informant.[4]. Ames remained director until her death in 1977, having overseen the Yaddo community since 1926.


In May 2005 vandals, using paintballs, damaged two of the 'Four Seasons' statues, the 'Poet's Bench,' a fountain and pathways with blue paint. Due to the open, inviting and unguarded nature of the Yaddo, it has regularly been subject to such action.

Entering its second century, Yaddo accepts contributions to its endowment and underwriting for specific projects to ensure that the artists' community will always be a place of inspiration. During the Centennial Gift Campaign, Yaddo received large contributions from Spencer Trask & Company and Kevin Kimberlin, the firm's current chairman[5] Also, the Trask Society was set up in 1999 to honor the gift of Spencer Trask and Katrina Trask and to keep their vision alive. The Trask Society is a program recognizing those who have included in their estate plans a gift for The Corporation of Yaddo, such as a bequest in a will, a remainder interest in a revocable trust, a beneficiary designation of life insurance or retirement plan proceeds, or other forms of planned gifts. Novelist Patricia Highsmith bequeathed her entire estate, valued at $3 million, to the community.

Yaddo's gardens are modeled after the classical Italian gardens which the Trasks had visited in Europe. The 'Four Seasons' statues were acquired and installed in the garden in 1909. There are many statues and sculptures located within the estate, including a sundial which bears the inscription, "Hours fly, Flowers die, New days, New ways, Pass by, Love stays." While visitors are not admitted to the main mansion or artists' residencies, they may visit the gardens.

The Trasks also built "Trayaddo" in Tuxedo Park, New York in 1900. That stone and timber mansion would be sold in the early 1920s to fellow financier Alfred Lee Loomis who would make a portion of it the famed Loomis Laboratories where ground breaking scientific research was conducted covertly.


  1. ^ a b "Yaddo and Substance." (html). Time. 5 September 1938. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,760139,00.html. "Creating at Yaddo last week, at mid-season of the colony's twelfth year [1938], was a typical group of writers and artists who have given substance to Katrina Trask's vision. But whether or not they fitted Katrina's romantic conception was an open question. By contrast with aristocratic Katrina and the elegant capitalistic surroundings she provided, most of the season's 27 guests stood out in striking left-wing contrast: Poet Kenneth Fearing (Angel Arms, Poems), Critic Newton Arvin (Hawthorne), Novelists Joseph Vogel (At Madame Bonnard's), Leonard Ehrlich (God's Angry Man), Henry Roth (Call It Sleep), Daniel Fuchs (Low Company).
    “One of the show places of the U. S., Yaddo is a 500-acre (2.0 km2) estate with pine groves, vast lawns, artificial lakes with ducks, famous rose gardens, white marble fountains. The name Yaddo was a baby pronunciation given by the Trask children (all four of whom died in childhood) to The Shadows, a famous inn formerly on the site of the Trask estate, where the Trasks had spent their summers. It was one of the dozen places where Poe was supposed to have written The Raven and Katrina Trask said it inspired her own poetry."
  2. ^ http://www.wiawaka.org/history.html
  3. ^ Yaddo. "Yaddo Guests - Lists Of Artists.". http://yaddo.org/yaddo/artistslists.shtml.  
  4. ^ The Lowell Affair: Yaddo's Red Scare; see also "Deeply and mysteriously implicated" by Carla Blumenkranz.
  5. ^ footnote http://albany.bizjournals.com/albany/stories/1998/12/14/daily21.html ).

External links

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