Friday, May 18, 2012

Today Is Our Birthday!

On May 18, 1971, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts incorporated as a nonprofit organization and a representative board and advisory committee was duly installed. 

Members of this first board were: founder Elizabeth Langhorne (president), William Massie Smith (vice-president), Alex von Thelen (treasurer), founder Elizabeth Newcomb (resident director of Wavertree), Nancy Hale (author), Peter Taylor (author), and George Kendall (former director of the MacDowell Colony). Later in the year, Elizabeth Greenleaf and Virginia Moore also joined the board.

In that first year, VCCA could accommodate five artists at a time. Two years later in 1973, the Colony had more than doubled the number of artists-in-residence to twelve. In the spring of 1974, VCCA moved to Prospect Hill in the historic Green Springs area of Louisa County, Virginia. 

With the appointment of Sweet Briar Professor Bill Smart as VCCA's executive director in the fall of 1975, VCCA began negotiations with the College for a trial session on the campus. The 1976 sessions were so successful that the following year, a contract with the College was approved and VCCA began leasing the neighboring Sweet Briar property known as Mt. San Angelo, our current home. 

Thirty-five years later—VCCA is turning 41 and we can accommodate 402 Fellows annually! 

Happy Birthday, VCCA!

While being renovated, the original mansion at Mt. San Angelo was destroyed in a fire on July 17, 1979. Fellows started staying in their studios at the barn. By the time a new residence was constructed and opened in 1981, VCCA had doubled its capacity.
Now known as the Wachmeister Garden, this is how the boxwood and sunken garden looked in the early 1900s.

PHOTO AT TOP: shows the iconic Copper Beech at the turn of the 20th century. It grew to be the tallest in the Commonwealth until it was hit by lightning.

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