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The Mansion at Yaddo (ca. 1905).jpg
Yaddo, circa 1905
Formation 1926
Type Artist colony
Purpose To nurture the creative process by providing an opportunity for artists to work without interruption in a supportive environment
Headquarters Saratoga Springs, New York
Region served
United States
Website http://yaddo.org/

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."[1] On March 11, 2013 it was designated a National Historic Landmark.[2]

It offers residencies to artists working in choreography, film, literature, musical composition, painting, performance art, photography, printmaking, sculpture, and video. Collectively, artists who have worked at Yaddo have won 66 Pulitzer Prizes, 27 MacArthur Fellowships, 61 National Book Awards, 24 National Book Critics Circle Awards, 108 Rome Prizes, 49 Whiting Writers' Awards, a Nobel Prize (Saul Bellow, who won the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction and Nobel Prize in Literature in 1976), and countless other honors.[1] Yaddo is included in the Union Avenue Historic District.


The estate was purchased in 1881 by the financier Spencer Trask and his wife, the writer Katrina Trask. The first mansion on the property burned down in 1893, and the Trasks then built the current house. Yaddo is a neologism invented by one of the Trask children and was meant to rhyme with "shadow".[3]

Artists' colony

In 1900, after the premature deaths of the Trasks' four children,[3] 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 later to donate land for a working women's retreat center as well, known as Wiawaka Holiday House, at the request of Mary Wiltsie Fuller.[4]

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 accused 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. Ames was eventually exonerated of all charges but learned from the investigation that her assistant Mary Townsend was an FBI informant.[5][6] Ames remained director until her death in 1977, having overseen the Yaddo community since 1926.[citation needed]

In literature

The retreat was the partial setting of Jonathan Ames' book Wake Up Sir! (2004).

Dagger of the Mind (1941), a novel by 1930s Yaddo resident Kenneth Fearing, takes place in Demarest Hall, an art colony modeled after Yaddo.[7]

Recent years

In May 2005, vandals, using paintball guns, damaged two of the Four Seasons statues, the Poet's Bench, a fountain, and pathways with blue paint.[8] Repairs cost $1,400.[9]

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.[10] Novelist Patricia Highsmith bequeathed her entire estate, valued at $3 million, to the community.[11]

Facilities and gardens

Pergola in Yaddo's gardens, photographed c. 1900–20

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

Notable alumni

Yaddo has hosted more than 6,000 artists.[12]

See also



  1. 1.0 1.1 "History", Yaddo<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
  2. "New Sites Recognize More Complete Story of America, including Significant Latino, African American and Indian Sites". US Department of the interior. Retrieved March 13, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Yaddo and Substance". Time. September 5, 1938. 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's vision. But whether or not they fit her romantic conception was an open question. By contrast with aristocratic Katrina and the elegant 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, and 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 said it inspired her own poetry.
    <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. History, Wiawaka, retrieved June 9, 2011<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
  5. The Lowell Affair: Yaddo's Red Scare, NYPL<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
  6. Blumenkranz, Carla, Deeply and mysteriously implicated, Poetry Foundation<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
  7. Fearing, Kenneth (2004). The Collected Poems of Kenneth Fearing. Indiana: Indiana Press University. p. XVIII. ISBN 0943373255.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Kinney, Jim (May 18, 2005). "Vandals Strike Yaddo Gardens". The Saratogian. Retrieved January 1, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Kinney, Jim (May 21, 2006). "Yaddo Vandals' Damage Undone". The Saratogian. Retrieved January 1, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "$1M gift received by Yaddo". The Business Review. Albany, New York. December 17, 1998. Retrieved January 1, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Barron, James; Martin, Douglas (February 18, 1998). "Public LIves; Here and There". The New York Times. Retrieved December 31, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Guests – Lists of Artists". Yaddo.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Sources consulted

External links