The Catskills Sights

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Byrdcliffe Review

Ralph Radcliffe Whitehead, a wealthy Englishman under the sway of William Morris and John Ruskin, decided to create a utopian arts colony. His friend and conspirator Bolton Brown, an artist, suggested Woodstock; after a visit in 1902, Whitehead agreed. Here is the result: 300 acres dotted with 35 buildings, the only intact Arts and Crafts colony remaining on U.S. soil. Although Whitehead was considered dictatorial, his early efforts laid the groundwork for Woodstock's transformation into a colony of the arts. John Dewey, Thomas Mann, naturalist John Burroughs, and Isadora Duncan all fell under Byrdcliffe's spell. Artists, writers, composers, and dance and theater companies still call it home when they participate in its residency programs. Pamphlets in the mailbox outside the barn outline a self-guided walking tour.

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