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Quo Vadis

The Quo Vadis Project continues as the primary vehicle for shaping the future activities of the LSAA.  Key documents from the Project and its current status can be viewed at the link in the Member section above.  A summary of the Project is also available as a pdf file at the link below.
Quo Vadis 101

Thanks to Keith Simpson '70, for archiving the Lenox School yearbooks, 1965 - 1971 on his website www.yourarchivist.com
Check them out, and contact Keith directly if you have family photos you would like to preserve.

Use this link to Shop America where 2% of all purchases will be donated directly to the LSAA, but only if you shop through that link.

Be sure to visit the Video Page, featuring "The Lenox School Story

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Links to More Photos

If you have an album of Lenox photos posted online, let us know and we'll add the link here. You will need a google picassa account (available free when you click on link) to view

Thanks to David Acton for this gallery of pics from Reunion 2013.  Click to view 

Reunion Photos 2016

Reunion Photos 2013

Reunion Photos 2011

Reunion 2008 Photos

Reunion 2006 Photos

1988 reunion & misc photos from 1965-66

1966 Graduation Photos

Lord of the Flies

Friday
Nov302012

Nol Putnam - Artist / Blacksmith

Here's a link to a great article about former Lenox School Master, Nol Putnam...

Artists speak through their art using many different languages.

Nol Putnam, a self-described artist-blacksmith, speaks the language of iron and steel. His art, bowing only to gravity, is three-dimensional and born from the elements. At White Oak Forge near Flint Hill, Mr. Putnam harnesses the elements and uses his artistic vision to create sculptural designs that are elegant, timeless and sometimes whimsical.   (READ MORE)

Friday
Nov182011

Campus Legacy of Youth Education Lives On

By Randy Harris '68

In addition to their focus on performance art that includes on-campus and traveling commercial plays, Shakespeare & Company has an aggressive resident and outreach focus on Education and Training which continues the legacy that was started on the campus by Lenox School.  Their education programs focus on youth under 20 and their training programs on adults over 20 that are interested in a theater career.  The S&Co goal is to help each individual to discover the world of Shakespeare through creative learning experiences that create joy, excitement and passion, explore the language and offer performances in company productions.  Described below are S&Co’s varied programs, which show that education is at the very core of what they do and that the education legacy of the campus lives on.

Their student and school-oriented “Flagship” education programs involve both a spring traveling show and the Fall Festival of Shakespeare.  The traveling show (New England Tour of Shakespeare) involves introducing Shakespeare to students in schools and theaters (approximately 77) throughout New England, New York and New Jersey, with a student workshop added on to each visit.  The Fall Festival of Shakespeare involves hiring contract employees to concurrently conduct a nine week course at 10 separate area schools to produce a play with up to 35 cast members.  The instructors work with students for part of the day and return to S&Co to work on sets and costumes for the remainder of the day.  On the 10th week, everyone comes to the S&Co campus and performs all ten plays over a single extended weekend, with the actors watching all the performances.

Summer youth programs on the campus include the “Riotous Youth” a 2-week day camp for students from 7 to 15 and the Shakespeare & Young Company (SYCO) for students 16 to 20.  Occasionally rooms at Lenox High School have been used if on-campus space is limited.  Adult training programs are also offered.

Additionally, a voluntary program for Massachusetts youth offenders is also provided for several communities at least annually or more frequently if the number of offenders choosing it so warrants.  The program grew out of a previous S&Co Educational Director’s experience with the Department of Youth Services.  Non-incarcerated offenders are sentenced to 5-6 weeks, 4-days a week, 3-hours a day during which they prepare and then put on a play for family members.  The experience benefits the offenders by instilling confidence, a sense of accomplishment and team-building skills.  Roles are often split between participants so that memorizing lines doesn’t become an overwhelming task.

Teaching-the-teacher training is also not forgotten and two programs exist.  One is an on-campus residential 1-week course and the other is a 4-week residential program offered three out of every four years.  This program, most recently held at Amherst College, is called the National Institute on Teaching Shakespeare and is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, which precludes continuous  sponsorships, hence the break every fourth year.

Thus, as you’ve read, the education of youth both continues on campus and reaches out from it, touching almost 25,000 young people and their teachers each year.  The LSAA is proud to support these programs through its annual scholarship and donation to S&Co.

Friday
Nov182011

Shakespeare & Company’s Financial Situation and Plans

By Randy Harris '68

Many are always interested in the financial challenges faced by Shakespeare & Company and their impact on its viability and improvements to the campus and its buildings.  To get the latest status, over the Reunion weekend and the following week, I discussed the matter separately with the Artistic Director, and then the General Manager and Managing Director.

As S&Co enters its 35th year and 12th on the Lenox School campus, its leadership feels that they’ve come a long way and are significantly better off than in years past, with last year’s “in the black” status proof of their stability.  However, they continually face the problem of not being able to do smart things in the long run due to lack of capital, which is currently used to service the debt.  Additionally, returns on investment take time to realize savings (i.e. the new Lawrence Hall self-help kitchen limits the need to hire kitchen staff); gifts don’t come in all at once, as donors often give over several years for tax purposes; and revenues are often out of synch with bills.  Therefore, as part of their 35th year they intend to celebrate the Company and its training and education programs and retire as much debt as possible while improving their cash flow and beginning an endowment, through a $6M fundraising campaign.

S&Co’s financial challenges and obligations generally fall into one of four categories.  First is the monthly mortgage on the $3.2M loan used to originally purchase the 33-acre property.  Next are two promissory notes totaling several million dollars, taken out in 2008 for the Bernstein Center (Sports Center) and due in 2015 (paid through 2012).  The money was required to fix its roof, other infrastructure, and remodel it into a world-class facility with state-of-the-art rehearsal rooms and workshop areas, which unfortunately was done during a down economy when revenues were low.  Then come the operational costs for salaries, royalties, upkeep and maintenance; and finally, capital costs required for remodeling/improving existing buildings and building new ones. 

Current revenues are sufficient to meet monthly mortgage payments on the campus property of $250K-$300K.  The Bernstein Center debt will be met by the fundraising campaign and a donation from the estate of Ms. Bernstein that will eliminate the debt and create an endowment for maintenance of the Center, thus keeping the remaining monthly payments on the campus property manageable.  In regards to operational expenses, they are being met, but as mentioned, they are often out of synch with revenues.  The largest revenues are generated from the summer productions, while the largest expenses occur in the spring when royalties to play-writes and actor salaries are due.  Added to these are staff salaries, and maintenance costs both of which fluctuate and the cost to rent three off-campus houses for up to 38 staff.  There are now 28 permanent staff members, the result of a one-third reduction several years ago, with contract employees swelling the number to 75 in the fall, 50 in the winter and 200+ in the summer.  The $500K cash reserve obtained from the fundraising effort will ensure that all bills are paid in a timely manner.

Unfortunately, that leaves very little money for capital projects, which must be raised primarily through other means.  These projects range from long-term money makers like double-pane windows in Lawrence Hall to reduce heating costs; to remodeling South Cottage (improved corridors will allow access to 9 bedrooms at a cost of 150K?) that would negate the need to rent several off-campus houses; to refurbishing St. Martins and other buildings.  The only capital project this year was Elayne’s Corner outside the Bernstein Center’s main entrance celebrating Ms. Bernstein’s life.  There are three likely sources of income for these capital improvements in addition to purely fundraising endeavors.  The first, which is being actively pursued, is renting out existing rehearsal facilities.  The three Bernstein Center rehearsal rooms are routinely in demand, while the upper floor of Founders’ Theater is currently rented out to a Yoga company.

Second, S&Co continues to seek a long-term renter for the northern half (Olympic size hockey rink) of the Bernstein Center.  Currently only suitable for storage, it lacks a loading dock or existing roads for truck access.  It would need heat, restrooms and handicap access to achieve full commercial real estate status.  In the past, several film companies have expressed a desire to create studios there, but the bad economic times and the fact that Lenox is on the border between Boston and New York construction-related unions killed these initiatives, some companies seeking non-union States.  There was also an inquiry from an indoor soccer team for use as a soccer facility. 

Fourth, what S&Co and its campus do offer is existing buildings and the square footage to expand either through improving these buildings or replacing them with new ones.  S&Co is seeking a non-profit joint-tenant, primarily among educational organizations since the property is zoned for non-profit use, who might want to invest in a location for the practical application of its drama school.  Included in this could be the refurbishment of St. Martins Hall, though S&Co remains open to discuss other uses for it as well.

 

 

Friday
Nov182011

Campus Goings-On - Reunion Weekend (October 14-21 2011)

By Randy Harris '68

Southern Portion of Campus.  The open campus grounds, visited daily by many local residents, were somewhat soggy, very green, and well maintained, except for areas immediately around buildings beyond repair.  The two LSAA Memorabilia Displays are holding up well and an updated School History was attached to each.  The few free-standing sculptures of the past, some by David Bakalar, seem to have multiplied and are now everywhere.  West and Southeast (Maskell) Cottages are still used for housing though in need of external lead-paint removal and repainting.  The latest upgrade to them was a new kitchen and bedrooms for West Cottage 2+ years ago.  South Cottage remains uninhabited awaiting funds ($150K?) to improve its corridors, thus freeing up 9 bedrooms.  Remember, 40+ years ago, Lenox School was looking to replace these same wooden cottages with a second brick dormitory.  Lawrence Hall had a self-help kitchen added in the downstairs rear classroom several years ago and recently had half its interior repainted.  Most dry portions of St. Martins including the dining hall, study hall and south wing continue to be used for storage, but a leaky roof continues to be a problem in some areas.  The Lenox School Historical Marker looks beautiful at the corner of St. Martins’ south wing, with the surrounding vegetation removed, the immediate area landscaped, and an S&Co promise to repaint the surrounding portions of the wing.  The peaceful Marcia Perry, Volunteer and Friend, reflective garden behind St. Martins did in fact “have a world of pleasure in it”.  I was pleasantly surprised by the well maintained interiors of the warm-weather Yellow and Blue rehearsal rooms (St. Martins rear extensions), which appear well used, have theater lighting (generator/battery driven), grid-marked floors and a piano in one.  The 10-year old 450-seat Elizabethan Founders’ Theater remains in great shape with maintenance to its decorative pillars, and pavers replacing outside gravel on the patio, the only planned improvements.  The former upstairs lounge area is now a large rehearsal studio with an adjacent large L-shaped office area.  Both have been rented out to a local Yoga studio.  On the upper baseball field, a white tent was erected over the wooden stage and seating to create a temporary Rose Theatre.  The Craft Shop continues to be used for storage.  The Coop, Field House and Monks Hall are still deteriorating with only the latter looking a little worse than last year, while the Field House remains a candidate for restoration.  The Infirmary has become so unstable that to reduce liability, a fence has been erected around it, similar to the one around Monks Hall.  The small building adjacent to the Infirmary remains structurally sound after a portion of its façade was removed.  S&Co is seeking a joint-tenant, perhaps a college, to invest in developing the property, as a site for the practical application of its drama school.

 

Bernstein Center for the Performing Arts.  Black Wing the Cat, the only permanent resident, and Ms. Govane Lohbauer, Costume Director, took me on a detailed tour of the Center (Sports Center) which had a multimillion dollar renovation in 2008 that included a new roof.  The southern half of the building (double basketball court area going east-west) was divided by a wall higher than the Fenway Park Green Monster, into a huge scene/set shop on the west side and three acoustically isolated rehearsal rooms that are often rented out and always in use on the other side.  The center area contains a prop shop, finishing room and armory.  The 184-seat Bernstein Theatre was the former Zamboni storage/maintenance room.  The second floor’s former fencing room/dance hall and squash courts are now New England’s premier costume shop, with the smaller rooms used for costume storage and as a paint and die shop.  The northern half of the building (Olympic hockey rink) remains unused with no electricity.  S&Co is seeking renters to use it for storage or to upgrade it for other commercial uses.  The public Theatre entrance and lobby, where our Memorabilia Display and ticket counter is located, is an S&Co add-on to the building on the opposite side (east) from the original entrance.  Just outside is the new beautiful and peaceful Elayne’s Corner in tribute to Ms. Bernstein whose ashes are now interred there.  I met her husband Sol Schwartz there who said that St. Martins will get refurbished.

 

Northern Portion of Campus.  Dr. Jurney, facing some medical challenges in South Carolina was in touch by phone and sent his regrets for not attending the Reunion.  We all wish him a speedy recovery.  His portion of the campus remains basically unchanged from last year with the exception of some additional dirt piled along the future entrance road from Kemble Street and some paint blistering from water damage on Spring Lawn (Schermerhorn Hall), primarily under the rear portico.  I spent a brief time inside and it appears well maintained with some minor work still ongoing.  Visited the Kemble Inn (Bassett Hall), its Canadian owner Scott Shortt, and provided him with several old pictures of it for enlargement and display.  He has considerably upgraded its interior, hired a Michelin top-rated Chef, seems to have many rooms filled throughout the week, and hosts dinners there on weekend evenings.

 

Other Areas.  Trinity Church was as beautiful as ever with many of the familiar names of parishioners who helped purchase the original campus and sustain the School in its early years on its walls.  It dipped into its endowment to complete the roof project and is now nearing completion of a stain glass restoration effort which includes 4 English Heaton-Butler-Vayne windows, towards which the LSAA Reunion gift was applied, and 7 Tiffany windows.  The “Gramps” Howland stone/plaque was moved to a new position against the north side of the Church.  With the help of Church personnel, we found the Thayer Hall Chapel’s altar (located against the glass partition between the Church and Chapel), class of 1961 candlesticks, wooden processional cross and perhaps two of the four 1933 candlesticks.  The altar cross and two other candlesticks could not be found.  I spent several days in the Lenox Town Library making copies of the over 1,500 photos and the few documents that they have, so that the LSAA Memorabilia Collection now has a copy of everything.  Everyone was helpful as always and the Director and I spoke of the possibility and guidelines of permanently locating and displaying key elements of the LSAA Memorabilia Collection there in the future.  Everyone in Town spoke of the Berkshire Eagle Article on the Reunion and the posters of the Lenox School historical marker plaque were posted around Town.  Many thanks to all who provided recollections for the History and promises of future memorabilia.  Special thanks to Pete Baker ’61 for the rare Schermerhorn Laundry Bag; to Walter Vail ’61 for a box of unique memorabilia items including the original 1938 McKim, Mead & White Architect’s Color Drawing of St. Martins Hall with both wings; to the Whitman daughters, Romy and Sally, for their father’s superbly organized memorabilia; and to whoever provided the Bordentown Lenox School Catalog, our first and only item from this era.

Sunday
Sep122010

The Lenox School Book of History and Memories

We have launched a very exciting endeavor with the guidance and help of Randy Harris and Ed Ockenden: The Lenox School Book of History and Memories project wherein we are soliciting the recollections, anecdotes, reminiscences, memories, etc which will be published in a book to cement the Lenox School history and experience. Keep an eye out here in the News section for more info!, meantime, below the photo is an update.

Members of the first faculty, Mr. Walden Pell, Mr. Walter H. (Houston) Clark, Mrs. Monks, Mr. (Rev) G. Gardner Monks, housemother Mrs. Alden, Mr.John deBoer Cummings, at Griswold Hall, 1926

Just an update on the Lenox School Book of History and Memories (not the final Title: “Lenox: A Place Apart” is leading so far) whose goal is to provide a source of memories and enjoyment for LSAA members; commemorate the School and those involved with it; and to provide an enduring legacy of the School, "as we knew it".  As described in the previous edition of the P&S, we have a pretty good idea of what we’d like the Book to contain and what it might look like.  Now we’re into the “dog-days” of research which will likely take at least half a year and will include a review of every document in the School’s Memorabilia Collection, as well as continued contact with Alumni and former Masters and Staff.  With the completion of the initial version of the Campus History White Paper, we believe that we’ve got a pretty good handle on the School history and building descriptions and so we’ll now focus on describing the various detailed aspects of the School experience and on collecting applicable recollections of them.

We are also beginning to learn about the Print-On-Demand book publishing business, which appears to be the cheapest way to produce a quality product in the “limited” quantities that we will need.  It will involve an initial modest investment and then reasonable per-copy printing costs.  We’ll be getting into the fine-print to evaluate the various companies and see if we can find one that meets our needs, but a final decision is still quite some time away.  At some point along the way and after we have a good idea on the company and price-per-copy, we’ll probably ask you to indicate your desire to purchase a copy in order to gauge initial-run quantities.  The intent is to provide a professional-quality product with plenty of pictures at a reasonable price.  Any income derived from an above-cost price will be used to recoup the initial investment and to add to LSAA discretionary funds.

You can help us now with your personal recollections on any or all of the areas listed below.  In the meantime, we’ll continue to gather those recollections that you’ve already submitted as Pen and Scroll Letters to the Editor and that some of you wrote as Pen and Scroll articles many years ago.  Hopefully, everyone should have at least one recollection to provide, if not many more.  The major areas of the Lenox School experience that we plan to address are: Campus and Buildings; Faculty and Staff; Academics, Student Body; Student Life; Religion; Athletics; Extracurricular Activities; Outreach Programs; Memories of Classmates/Family Members Who Have Passed On; any experiences that you had with The End of the School, The Bordentown/Lenox School and Visits to the Campus Since the School Closed; and a Farewell/Parting Thought On How the School and Experience Has Changed Your Life.  Finally, many thanks to those who have already provided information and we look forward to hearing from the rest of you in the months ahead!  Your memories are the key to bringing this Book to life!

Please send your input to:  Randy Harris, Email rdassist7@gmail.com with a copy to Ed Ockenden at
edock2@verizon.net
or telephone (254) 690-6795.