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Welcome to Quarry Hill's Blog!

Quarry Hill Creative Center in Rochester, VT, founded 1946 by Barbara and Irving Fiske, is Vermont's oldest alternative community and at one time was probably also its largest. In the 60s -80s, as many as 90 people lived here.
It was and is visited each year, often in summer (but in every season, really) by visitors from all over the world.
We welcome interesting and creative people who are peaceful, bring no weapons, don't believe in hitting children or killing animals, and enjoy the beauty of Vermont and of themselves.

Most of us do not adhere to any particular dogma or religion, though many do find Eastern philosophy closest to our own thought (some of us are also members of the Quakers/Society of Friends).
We value the individual, particularly people who are energetic and have a sense of humor.
Visitors are welcome-- and prospective residents, too. There are some places for rent, others for sale. If interested, get in touch!
And, please follow the Blog and comment whenever you like!

"The symbol is the enemy of the reality, and the reality is ever one's true guide, true friend, true companion, and true self." Irving Fiske, 1908-1990

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Here is some information about Quarry Hill and the Fiske family, for those who may not know.

Quarry Hill, named for a nearby marble quarry, was bought (for about $1,000 for 140 acres!)  by my parents, Irving and Barbara Hall Fiske, in 1946 as an artists and writers colony. 
 I grew up there and in central Florida. Till I grew up and attended college, I never went to school, since William Blake, my parents' resident "genius," was opposed to it, and corporal punishment was rife in many schools in those days. Blake:" The child that weeps the rod beneath writes revenge in realms of death."
 We traveled 1500 miles  a year, up and down the eastern seaboard of the United States, in order to live the free life we wanted to live. In the beginning my parents,  brother William and myself traveled in a tiny trailer (about 6'X6')!
Later, my cousin David joined us, and my uncle, my father's brother, a classical composer, followed at a distance he considered maintained his personal dignity with his other son, Robin. (He and David didn't get on, and their mother had died).

My parents believed that children should never be spanked or scolded and should choose the things to learn that interested them the most. Actually, they said children should be in charge of adults, and often followed up on their words with actions.
Both my parents were educated. My father had attended Cornell and my mother had studied art in California and New York, where she had been a cartoonist for Harvey during WWII. (See The Great Women Cartoonists, by Trina Robbins, Workman Publishing Co. -- B. Hall.)
 Irving, my father, was, among many other things,  a WPA and freelance writer, and had a correspondence with G.B. Shaw about Irv's translation of Hamlet into Modern English-- a very controversial thing to do at that time. It was published by John Ciardi in The Saturday Review-- with scorn-- but to his surprise, most readers wrote in saying they liked the translation. He also wrote a now-classic article, Bernard Shaw's Debt to William Blake, which Shaw loved and had reprinted at his own expense (unsuprisingly, since it "shews that I also am among the prophets," as Shaw said.
 My  mother, who paints in pastel and tempera (though at 91 a little slowed down), is  a visionary artist. Therefore, our educational life had hefty ramparts,and we learned much that we were interested in by the Socratic method, by traveling, and on our own. Still, loneliness was almost unavoidably a part of our daily life without too many other children. Thank God for my several Vermont friends! They were brave to befriend "summer people" and bohemians, but they did it and opened their homes and farms to us for lovely Charlotte's Web-like summer play.
Books and Civil War battlefields (and other visits to historic places) helped us learn more. My brother became a historian and a computer programmer on the cutting edge of medical software before his unfortunate early death in 2008. He held two Masters' degrees and was on his way to a Ph.D. at the time of his death.

In the mid-Sixties, my parents opened a space called the Gallery Gwen in New York's East Village,and there gave art shows, poetry readings, and my father spoke on "Tantra, the Yoga of Sex" and many other things. On Thursdays he spoke, and on Fridays he drove people to our place in Vermont to spend the weekend.
In the later 60s and 70s people began to build houses there, have children, and become a group that traveled together, shared child care, and also, when they wanted to, shared lovers. We began our own school which influenced other schools around the state, and most of our kids grew up to be Valedictorians at the local school and good at what they do.
We are still here today in a rather different form. 
We are mostly a place that rents out land and spaces to live now, but we always uphold our original beliefs. Children are never spanked or intimidated here, and we do not harm or kill animals. We welcome the unusual person, the creative person, the outsider. And we enjoy our lives.


  1. Most of us have long since settled down into monogamous relationships-- I sometimes think of those days of shared relationships as the men "trying out "for the women. (I picked a great one... one who's wonderful with kids and has done his best to stand by me and QH all these years, with great honor and devotion).
    However, as we aren't a "commune" with rules and dictates, and it is a great part of our former life, I for one would make no objection to people sharing if they wished to... so long as the children were well cared for and not in any way endangered by such a revival. We used to call getting together "having a date" or "having a philosophical discussion." Well, I guess I should put this stuff in my book...