People of Windsor Mountain
People of Windsor Mountain is about the boarding school Rick attended from 1961-63. It is non-fiction; a combination history of the school and the personal stories of dozens of alumni and former faculty. Rick interviewed over 100 people, many of whom he hadn’t seen or spoken to in more than 50 years.
Here’s a brief overview of boarding schools in general, and this particular school’s history and people:
You may be familiar with Phillips Andover, Phillips Exeter, Groton, Choate Rosemary Hall, or other New England boarding schools. These so-called “Elites” cater to wealthy families looking for traditional, structured, and conservative boarding school experiences for their children. For more than two hundred years, the Elites have educated many of America’s business, political, and artistic leaders.
Windsor Mountain was not one of the Elites. It was educationally progressive, socially liberal, and politically left-wing. Its roots are in Germany, where it was founded, in 1920, by educators who had studied with Freud. As the Nazis gained power, the school relocated first to Switzerland, then to the United States, and finally, in 1944, to a beautiful 150 acre estate in Lenox, Massachusetts. The school closed in 1975, a victim of changing social values and tough economic times.
What was different about Windsor Mountain was its people. The faculty, many of whom were European refugees, was a mix of scholars, artists, and a few oddballs. The student body was an even broader mix, including scholars, artists, beatniks, hippies, nerds, misfits, damaged children, and yes, a few oddballs. Some famous and near-famous families sent their children there, including the children of Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, and Dr. Max. Jacobson, the infamous "Dr. Feelgood."
People of Windsor Mountain delivers on three levels. First, it tells the honest story, good and bad, of a unique family that educated the minds and hearts of children for almost six decades. Second, it relates the personal stories of dozens of alumni and former faculty, many of whom were “saved” by their Windsor experience. Third, it captures the flavor of liberal-progressive boarding school life in America in the fifties, sixties, and seventies.
To read an excerpt, click here.