WORDS / WRITERS’ COLONY AT DAIRY HOLLOW
PHOTO COURTESY / TERESA DEVITO
Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow (WCDH) Board President, Peggy Kjelgaard, had a vision to commemorate 20 years of hosting writers in 2020 by refreshing and refurbishing the colony’s writers’ suites. Her vision is being realized through a Sponsor-a-Suite campaign that began in July 2019 with the renovation of the Spring Garden writers’ suite into the Maya Angelou suite. In December, the Peach Blossom suite was completed and renamed the Langston Hughes suite.
In the new year, two additional suites were completed, both located in the mid-century Frank Lloyd Wright inspired Usonian-style house at 505 Spring Street, Eureka Springs. The Muse 4 writers’ suite became the Diana Rivers suite in February, and Muse 3 became the Marianne Moore suite in March. The effort was coordinated by WCDH Board Member, Teresa Pelliccio DeVito, who said, “As an artist, I understand how important creative workspace is. This is a constant consideration during a suite refresh.” Teresa worked with each suite’s sponsors and explained, “Before beginning a refresh, I research the sponsor’s author of choice. It’s important that I convey a sense of their personality, culture, and what inspired them. I fall head over heels in love with every author!”
The Muse 4/Diana Rivers suite refresh was sponsored by author and Shiloh Museum of Ozark History Director, Allyn Lord. She explained, “As both a WCDH board member and a writer who has stayed numerous times at the Colony, I strongly support the WCDH mission. Each of those roles fed into the Sponsor-a-Suite campaign by financially supporting the Colony and helping to make each suite more comfortable, up-to-date, and personal for the writers who stay there.”
Allyn has completed residencies in five of the Writers’ Colony’s eight writers’ suites. The Muse 4 suite was her favorite and was a natural choice for her sponsorship. Allyn had three reasons for choosing Diana Rivers as the suite’s namesake. She explained, “First and foremost, I wanted to name my suite for an Arkansas – and specifically an Arkansas Ozarks – writer, given my professional work in Arkansas Ozark history. Second, I wanted to choose someone who isn’t necessarily mainstream, whom many folks may not know, and who writes in an alternative style (speculative fiction). And third, I respect and admire Diana Rivers, not only for her writing, but for her activism, her promotion of women’s communities, her art, and her status as matriarch. She is friend, role model, artist, advocate, mother, inspiration, and – yes – author.”
Allyn chose to design the suite in Craftsman or Mission-style. It is her favorite furnishing style, and can be conveyed in just a few pieces. She said,” I wanted the suite to honor Diana, so I chose to include copies of all her books, one of her pieces of art, and a framed biography and ‘bookography’ about her.” She plans to add more art by Diana Rivers to the suite soon. Allyn continued, “For me, the Craftsman Zeitgeist is relaxing, comfortable, warm, and homey. That’s the way I feel around Diana because she’s so personal, soft, gentle, and welcoming. I hope that feeling rubs off on writers in residence. The suite, with its large picture window overlooking the woods and its expansive writing-room windows, will perhaps give writers a vision of another, more egalitarian and peaceful world as they sit and read, write, or dream.”
The Muse 3/Marianne Moore suite refresh was sponsored by author and WCDH alumni, Linda Leavell, and her husband, Brooks Garner, of Fayetteville. Linda has been studying the life and poetry of Marianne Moore for most of her adult life. She wrote a book of literary criticism about her poetry and then wrote a full-length biography of Moore that was published in 2013, “Holding on Upside Down: The Life and Work of Marianne Moore.” Linda said, “When I had the opportunity to choose a writer, who else? She is a remarkable poet and too little known or appreciated. Marianne Moore is known for her experimental, modernist poetry. Although she is not as well-known as her friends, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Robert Frost, and William Carlos Williams, they were all in awe of her and praised her to the skies.”
Linda and Brooks have been visiting Eureka Springs for over 30 years, and Linda used to fantasize about buying a writing cottage. One day as they were driving around Eureka Springs’ historic loop, they saw the sign for the Writers’ Colony. She said, “Maybe I don’t have to buy a house. I could just go there.” Since then, she has visited the Writers’ Colony several times and explained, “I like to imagine the perfect setting for writing. The Sponsor-a-Suite campaign gave me the opportunity to indulge my fantasy.” She says she chose Muse 3 because, “Muse 3 was where I stayed the first time I visited WCDH. And frankly, I found it a bit dreary. I’m like a cat. I need light, preferably daylight, just to function. Over the course of my week there, I kept imagining ways to improve it. It is one of the largest suites at WCDH, and the writing studio has a gorgeous view of the forested grounds. It also has a private outdoor entrance and patio among the trees. I thought the suite could be much brighter and more inviting than it was.”
Linda said, “Though Marianne Moore’s own New York apartment was furnished with family heirlooms, I wanted to celebrate her mid-century fame by decorating the suite in a mid-century modern style, a style that goes with the Usonian design of the house.” Linda continued, “Peacock blue was Marianne Moore’s favorite color, so we painted the walls of the writing studio and the reading nook peacock blue. It’s a color both vibrant and relaxing. We removed the dark drapes over the large window in the writing studio, and it’s now flooded with light. New honeycomb blinds break the glare when needed.”
The newly refurbished suites include a fresh coat of paint, new bedding, furniture, appliances, window treatments, and décor. WCDH is grateful to James DeVito, Teresa Pelliccio DeVito, Brooks Garner, Linda Leavell, Allyn Lord, Ilene Powell, and Melodye Purdy for contributions of artwork, labor, and materials. WCDH Executive Director, Michelle Hannon, said, “We are fortunate to have such a strong community of supporters who are making this beautiful transformation possible.”
Since opening its doors to writers in 2000, the Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow has made a lasting impact on the arts and literary communities providing uninterrupted residency time for writers of all genres, including culinary, composers, and artists, without discrimination. The WCDH has hosted over 1,500 writers from 48 states and 13 countries.