Quarry Hill Creative Center
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Quarry Hill Creative Center
Quarry Hill Creative Center
"To enjoy life and appreciate beauty and the esthetic of the creative person; to support and protect children from abuse and neglect; not to hunt or fish or kill animals."
Quarry Hill Creative Center is located in Vermont
Quarry Hill Creative Center
Quarry Hill Creative Center
Location in Vermont
Coordinates: 43°55?25?N 72°49?16?W / 43.9236°N 72.8211°W / 43.9236; -72.8211Coordinates: 43°55?25?N 72°49?16?W / 43.9236°N 72.8211°W / 43.9236; -72.8211
CountryUnited States
CorporationLyman Hall, Inc.
Founded byIrving Fiske and Barbara Hall Fiske
 o Total200 acres (80 ha)
 o Total90 (full-time)

Quarry Hill Creative Center, in Rochester, Vermont, is Vermont's oldest alternative living group or community.[2] It was founded in 1946 by Irving Fiske, a playwright, writer, and public speaker; and his wife, Barbara Hall Fiske, an artist and one of the few female cartoonists of the Golden Age of Comic Books.


On April 10, 1946, the Fiskes bought 140 acres (0.57 km2) of mountain, meadow, and brook land in Rochester, Vermont. Their intention was to create an artists' and writers' retreat, a gathering place for creative and freethinking people.

When the countercultural movement of the 1960s and 1970s began, hundreds of people from all over the world began to discover Quarry Hill.[1] Many people built houses at Quarry Hill, with an agreement with the Fiskes that the land would continue to be owned by the family.[] Children at Quarry Hill attended its private K-12 school, the North Hollow School.[3] The school was based on the principles of the Fiske family and of Summerhill School in England, and ran Free The Kids! Program, which offers educational material on the self-destructive and negative effect on children of spanking and other violence.

One of the residents of Quarry Hill was the late Stephen Huneck, who lived there during the mid- to late-1960s. Huneck later became a folk artist, who created the famous Dog Church in St. Johnsbury, VT with many carved dog images. He often said Barbara Fiske was one of his art teachers; William Fiske (1954-2008), the Fiskes' son, was one of his closest friends; and he called Isabella Fiske McFarlin till almost the end of his life (he committed suicide in 2010).[4] Another resident who has achieved prominence is Alan Stirt, woodworker and bowlmaker.[5]

In 1976, Irving and Barbara divorced, and a family-owned rental corporation, Lyman Hall, Inc., took over the land.[6] William Fiske was its first President, a position now held by Brion T. McFarlin, who on October 14, 1984 married Isabella Fiske in Brandon, VT.[7] William Fiske was married to Anne Fitzgerald for 10 years, and had two children Jason D. Us and Eva Isabel Us. He died on July 18, 2008, in his sleep, in Burlington, VT.[8] Barbara Fiske married Donald W. Calhoun, a sociologist, Quaker (as Barbara had become in the 1980s) and professor of sociology at the University of Miami.[9]

Isabella Fiske, the Fiskes' daughter, had become friends with many underground cartoonists in the 1960s, including Trina Robbins, Robert Crumb, Kim Deitch and Art Spiegelman.[10]

In 1978 Spiegelman, Françoise Mouly, and a number of Quarry Hill residents created Top-Drawer Rubber Stamp Company, a pictorial rubber stamp company featuring art by Crumb, Spiegelman, and many other cartoonists and artists, including Barbara Fiske. This art rubber stamp company provided employment for several Quarry Hill residents.[11][12]

Spiegelman and others drew a parallel between Irving Fiske and Crumb's mischievous "Guru", Mr. Natural.[13]

Irving Fiske died of a stroke on April 25, 1990, in Ocala Florida. Barbara Fiske continued to live and teach art at Quarry Hill into her 90s, eventually moving to a nursing home in White River Junction, Vermont, where she died after several days of being read poetry by her daughter and son-in-law, and by moments of Quaker silence, as Barbara became a member of the Society of Friends in 1982, in Middlebury Vermont.[14]



  1. ^ a b Associated Press "Vermont 'hippie commune' co-founder dies at 94," Salon (Apr. 29, 2014).
  2. ^ Hartmann, Thom. The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight (New York: Three Rivers Press / Random House, 2004), pp. 309-11, 315 -- calls Quarry Hill "The oldest "intentional community in Vermont"
  3. ^ Trausch, V. "Where Have All the Flower Children Gone?" Boston Globe Sunday Magazine (August 2, 1987). Archived at the University of Vermont
  4. ^ Freedom and Unity, The Vermont Movie, Part III (2013) -- photo of Stephen Huneck standing by the old school bus at Quarry Hill in the 1960s.
  5. ^ Fiske, Ladybelle, "Al Stirt, Bowlmaker, Vermont Life" Magazine, Winter, 1978
  6. ^ public State records
  7. ^ wedding license on file in Rochester, VT
  8. ^ Records of The University of Vermont and death certificate on file with the city of Burlington, VT.
  9. ^ Calhoun, Donald W., Spirituality and Community, Schenkman Books, Rochester, VT.
  10. ^ Spiegelman, Art,," MAUS,, A Survivor's Tale," Pantheon Books, 1987.
  11. ^ "She Changed Comics: Pre-Code & Golden Age - Comic Book Legal Defense Fund". Retrieved 2017.
  12. ^ Rubberstampmadness Magazine, #1, 1980, mention of Top-Drawer Rubber Stamp Co. on P. 10.
  13. ^ "My hippie girlfriend's father, Irving Fiske, the Mr. Natural of the commune I was involved with." Spiegelman, Art, "METAMAUS," pp-24-25, Pantheon Books.
  14. ^ Records of Middlebury Friends Meeting, Middlebury, VT.


  • Drysdale, M. Dickey "Rochester Renaissance," Vermont Life magazine (Spring 1998).
  • Fiske, Irving. "Letters to the Editor: Not a 'Hippy'," Ocala Star-Banner (May 25, 1971).
  • Fiske, Ladybelle (with photography by William Fiske). "Al Stirt, Bowlmaker," Vermont Life (Winter 1978)
  • Hemingway, Sam. "Leaderless Commune Seeks Peace," The Burlington (Vt.) Free Press (May 6, 1990).
  • McFarlin, Isabella Fiske, et al., "Free The Kids! and Quarry Hill Community," The Journal of Psychohistory, 21/1, 21-28.
  • Miller, Timothy. The 60s Communes: Hippies and Beyond. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1999, p. 8
  • Miller, Timothy. "Total Freedom", CESNUR International Conference: "Minority Religions, Social Change, and Freedom of Conscience" (Salt Lake City and Provo (Utah), June 20-23, 2002).
  • Sherman, Michael, Gene Sessions, and P. Jeffrey Potash. Freedom and Unity: A History of Vermont (Montpelier, Vermont: Vermont Historical Society, 2003) -- Sherman, a respected historian and teacher at Vermont College,[] credits Quarry Hill and The North Hollow School with being a model for the many alternative schools that sprang up in Vermont in the 1970s and onward.
  • Spiegelman, Art: MAUS (Pantheon, 1986-1992) -- Spiegelman and Mouly's "friends in Vermont" are the Fiske family and other Quarry Hill residents. "Isabella," in the "Prisoner on the Hell Planet" chapter, is Isabella Fiske (McFarlin), Art Spiegelman's girlfriend at the time of his mental breakdown and his mother's suicide.
  • Spiegelman, Art: "METAMAUS," (Pantheon, 2013)-- " "My hippie girlfriend's father, Irving Fiske, the Mr. Natural of the commune I was involved with." pp 24-25
  • "Fiske Family Women Honored," The Herald of Randolph (Feb. 21, 2002).
  • Vermont Magazine (May/June 2008) -- on Rochester's art culture and Quarry Hill's influence on the art scene in Rochester. Photo of Barbara Hall Fiske Calhoun and Isabella Fiske McFarlin.
  • Fiske family letters and papers; Isabella Fiske McFarlin's diaries, letters, papers and videotapes with friends and family.

External links

  • Quarry Hill blog
  • Quarry Hill on Facebook
  • Freedom and Unity: The Vermont Movie website -- six-part documentary film produced in 2013 by Nora Jacobson, which features interviews with Isabella Fiske McFarlin (Ladybelle) and Isabelle Fiske Calhoun (Barbara) in Part III. Several other Quarry Hill residents and former residents speak about Quarry Hill in Part III, which covers the influx of "hippies" and "Bohemians" into Vermont, and takes note of Quarry Hill's longevity since its founding in 1946.

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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