The Story of Windham
Part 1. History of Windham College
It all began in1951. Post WW II when the mood of the country was one of cautious optimism. A normal transistional period that followed a great war that followed a great depression that followed a period of great excess and violence that followed WW I that followed a post Victorian haze. Sure, there was that little thing called the Korean "War" going on, but who's to quibble when all things are relative and hadn't Einstein defined relativity in 1905?
After all, only 40,000 Americans died in Korea and the country was ready for the blissful era of butterflies and roses that has followed ever since.
That year 1951, in a sleepy hamlet in southeastern Vermont, a visionary named Walter Hendricks founded the Vermont Institute of Special Studies with his wife and 12 original students. The school's original mission was to help
foreign students improve their English language skills to enable them to meet the requirements for attending U.S. institutions. In 1954, the Institute was re-named Windham College and began offering courses in liberal arts and sciences, earning accreditation in December 1967. Who knew at the time that the place would come to embody the liberal in liberal arts?
Windham Trustee & Nobel Prize Winner Pearl S. Buck with President Kennedy
In 1964 Eugene Winslow took over as college president and embarked on an ambitious campaign to build a new mid-century modern campus and with the help of the board of
trustees enlisted the most prolific mid-century architect in history to do the design. The design became much maligned and even to this day sparks heated debate among usually tolerant alumni, many of whom would go as far as to say Edward Durrell Stone should have been taken out behind the Quonset Hut and shot. After all he had the dubious distinction of having designed Radio City
Music Hall, the Museum of Modern Art, the Kennedy Center and thousands of other deplorable institutions. Who the hell were they anyway to implement such a stand alone, iconic and functional campus when everyone knows a group of clapboard buildings more akin to a maple syrup farm would have been much more suitable?
Original rendering of Windham College campus by Edward Durrell Stone said by many to have been rejected by schools in Arizona, Nevada, Florida and as a moon colony.
Despite the controversy, the student body swelled to almost 1000 in the late 60's and early 70's. They came like pilgrims from the 4 corners of the earth (mostly from New Jersey). Many enrolled to avoid another pesky little situation in Southeast Asia. The government by that time had discovered that not calling something a war made it as if it wasn't even happening. A clever strategy that con
Edward Durrell Stone, Facebook whipping boy in front of his namesake dormitory.
Windham College became known as a "party school" and indeed the party raged on for many if not all. But a funny thing happened at that small aforementioned penitentiary-like campus in the drab, colorless landscape of Putney, VT. An unbelievably talented and distinguished faculty was assembled to teach there and somehow those cunning bastards managed to trick unsuspecting students into receiving a quality liberal arts education, many of whom couldn't spell cat if you spotted them th c and the a!
Typical night at Shaman's bar
And then there was the Administration. Wow!!!...well...maybe that should be another discussion...
By the mid 1970's the student population had dwindled significantly. Little issues like the draft and "that thing over there" had ended under the nefarious Nixon. Then a great recession and energy crisis ensued, crippling Shaman Bar's ability to keep the heat on, further driving away those seeking "higher education". President Carter, to his great credit, in a nationally televised speech, suggested that everything would be alright if everyone would just put on another sweater. Somehow the great man was not re-elected to a second term.
By 1978 it was all over. The doors of Windham were padlocked and the college was closed forever, stranding dozens of Iranian immigrants in the freezing cold having come there only seeking the best education "money could buy." Today Landmark College occupies the bleak, undistinguished (unpainted) campus in the dreary hills of the Connecticut River Valley.
2014; Archeological ruins of Windham College
1978: The death of Windham College.
So far anthropologists have found no concrete correlation between Einstein and the seven U.S. presidents who served during the Windham era.