Haystack School nets $4 million to preserve campus

DEER ISLE — The Haystack Mountain School of Crafts announced Thursday that the Arkansas-based Windgate Foundation is giving $4 million for the establishment of an endowment to preserve the seaside institution, which opened in 1961.

The campus, designed by the late American architect Edward Larrabee Barnes, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.

Barnes’ design situated a series of modest buildings on a granite ledge overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The shingled structures, built in a vernacular style with local materials, are connected by a series of walkways that encouraged community, while seeming to float above the forest floor.

Writing about Haystack, The Boston Globe architecture critic, Robert Campbell, described the school as “so perfectly fitted to its site and its purpose that you never afterwards forget it.”

The $4 million gift is the largest in Haystack’s history.

“We are proud to be the stewards of this architectural legacy and believe it to be one of the defining characteristics of the school,” Haystack’s press release said. “The human scale of Haystack is integral to the way we teach and learn, and rather than developing plans for expansion, we are committed to maintaining the intimacy of Haystack and the delicate relationship it has to the surrounding landscape.”

Over the years, Barnes’ Haystack design gained attention, and would become recognized as an architectural masterpiece and an icon of American modernism. While Barnes went on to design other notable buildings, such as the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and the Dallas Museum of Art, he would often refer to Haystack as “one of my happiest projects.”

In 1994, Haystack was awarded the coveted 25-year award from the American Institute of Architects, in recognition of its buildings having retained their integrity, having set standards of excellence for architectural design, and having attained cultural significance.

The Haystack campus is one of only 49 buildings to receive this recognition. Others include the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York), the Gateway Arch, (St. Louis, Mo.), and the East Building, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

As an endowment gift, the Windgate Foundation funds will be permanently restricted, generating annual operating support for the ongoing preservation of the award-winning campus.

To learn more, visit haystack-mtn.org.

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