Main Sites of Interest for Readers of Rosenstock-Huessy
Eugen and Margrit Rosenstock-Huessy built “Four Wells” in 1937-38, partly with $2,000 (the equivalent of about $35,000 today) from the sale of his library to the college. The ground floor guest room was paid for by their friend Mary Taussig Henderson, who thought it important they should have one. Their friends Henry and Rosalind Greene held a mortgage for the remainder of the cost of the house, and Rosalind forgave the remainder of the loan on Margrit’s death in 1959. (A list of the books Rosenstock-Huessy sold to the college is in the College archives in Rauner Library.)
The house was named “Four Wells” because it was only after digging three useless wells that they found enough water for the household. A pond was dug in the field out behind the house, and Rosenstock-Huessy had a screened “writing shed” out in the woods, outside which he buried his mother’s ashes..
Until recently, the house was substantially as it was on the day it was finished in 1938, with a few improvements made after Freya von Moltke came to live there. (Hans Huessy, all of sixteen when his parents moved in, had his own entrance door; his room became part of a separate apartment on the north end of the house.) In 1985, Konrad von Moltke incorporated the barn into the home he built and connected to Four Wells. The houses are still in the von Moltke family, though they are rented out for much of the year. Like most families, the von Moltkes would appreciate it if they and their tenants were not disturbed.
Margrit and Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy are buried in Hillside Cemetery in Norwich. The only access is by way of what Google calls Hillside Road, known locally as “Cemetery Road.” Visitors unfamiliar with the cemetery should park at the side of Cemetery Road and walk up and in. If you don’t, bear in mind that the road within the cemetery is laid out for one-way traffic: traffic “up” should go straight at the gate, taking the SECOND left-hand turn and swinging around to the left to climb to the upper level; traffic “down” takes the direct route to the gate.
The Rosenstock-Huessys are buried in the upper level, all the way over to the right-hand [north] edge of the cemetery along the stone wall under the pines, not far above the slope between the lower and upper levels. They lie near their friends, Walter and Lydia Behrendt and, a little further up the slope, Raymond and Margaret Gardner. Other “permanent residents” of Norwich with a Rosenstock-Huessy connection are: Hans R. and Mariot G. Huessy; Freya and Konrad von Moltke; Freya’s brother, Carl Deichmann; her brother-in-law, Willo von Moltke; as well as their neighbors, William Ballard and Alexander Laing, both also Dartmouth professors. Laing lived next door to the Rosenstock-Huessys for many years; it was he who defended them at town meeting when they were widely suspected of being German spies during World War II.
Camp William James
The original camp was held at the former CCC camp in Downer State Forest in Sharon, at what is now Downer 4-H Camp; the camp later moved to Tunbridge, VT. The current owners of the property replaced the farmhouse that housed CWJ some time ago. Several years ago, there was an attempt to persuade the state to mark the location of both the Tunbridge and Sharon camps with historic markers; if you support the idea, please contact Devin Colman, the State Architectural Historian.
The Vermont Historical Society’s page on Camp William James is here
Mark Bushnell’s 2013 and 2021 columns on Camp William James may be found here and here.
A less friendly article by Calvin Gower in the New England Quarterly may be found here.
Rauner Library at Webster Hall, Dartmouth College
Dartmouth’s Rauner Library is the home of the Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy Archive. While most of the archive donated to the college in 1994 and 2010 is catalogued only to the folder level, there is a great deal of material here, including many boxes of Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy’s manuscript files and the originals of the so-called “Gritli Letters,” written by Franz Rosenzweig to Margrit (but also to Eugen) Rosenstock-Huessy.
Rauner holds a copy of the Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy Digital Archive, with its 55,000 page scans of letters and other documents (a little more than half of which are on physically held at Rauner). Every member of the friendly and helpful staff spends time at the front desk, so you may find yourself talking to Jay Satterfield, Head of Special Collections, or Peter Carini, the College Archivist.
The Orozco Murals, Baker-Berry Library, Dartmouth College
No trip to Rosenstock-Huessy’s Dartmouth would be complete without a visit to the basement of Baker Library (its tall cupola is visible from much of the surrounding area) to see José Clemente Orozco’s 24-panel mural, “The Epic of American Civilization.” The murals were only a few years old when Rosenstock-Huessy arrived on campus; the final panel, Christ taking down the cross, is featured in Out of Revolution, and it is easy to see why Rosenstock-Huessy found the artwork a sign of the times. The college, which had hired Orozco to teach students the art of fresco painting, wound up with a major crisis on its hands, as furious alumni complained to President Hopkins about the presence of a known Communist like Orozco a place at Dartmouth.
The controversy continued for several years. There is a legend that a single art professor of art managed to prevent the entire series from being painted over, though President Ernest Martin Hopkins’s ongoing defense of Orozco does make the story unlikely. Orozco’s are not the only murals at Dartmouth that have generated controversy; Orozco’s work and the so-called “Hovey Murals” by Walter B. Humphrey are discussed here.
A Love-Letter to Baker Library
In 1949 Alice Herdan-Zuckmayer, wife of the playwright Carl Zuckmayer, published a memoir of their years in Vermont which included a paean to the wonders and delights of the college library, which in those bygone days was still just “Baker Library” and open to everyone who lived in the area.
Die Farm in den Grünen Bergen (The Farm in the Green Mountains) grew out of the letters Herdan-Zuckmayer wrote her husband’s parents, who had stayed in Europe when the Zuckmayers and their two children fled to the United States. After the war, Erich Kästner, editor of the Munich Neue Zeitung, saw the letters while visiting Zuckmayer’s parents and began running them in the newspaper’s magazine section, much to Herdan-Zuckmayer’s astonishment. But she then agreed to expand them into a book. The book became an enduring best-seller in Germany (the translators of the 1987 American edition reported somewhat breathlessly that 400,000 copies of the original had been sold).
We are glad to be able to offer that chapter on Baker Library from The Farm in the Green Mountains, by kind permission of New York Review Book Classics, who brought out a new edition of the book in 2017. You can buy the book from them here. (Elisa Albert’s somewhat breathless review of the 2017 edition in The Paris Review is here.)
The Farm in the Green Mountains. Copyright © 1968 by Alice Herdan-Zuckmayer. Translation copyright © 1987 by Ida H. Washington and Carol E. Washington. All rights reserved.