Summer Visitors and Retreats
According to the 1880 Cornwall Star, a small local newspaper, there were over “125 summer visitors in the village, and applications from scores cannot be accommodated.” That number was in addition to summer visitors that were staying at the local inn, which was also full. The summer visitor trend was started by residents inviting friends they had met at University or through traveling to visit during the summer months.
A surfeit of summer visitors and Cornwall’s landscape provided the opportunity for seasonal businesses in Cornwall, specifically those offering a cultural retreat. During this period Cornwall had ties with three art schools and a school of philosophy.
The Vedanta Ashrama was opened in 1909 by the Swami Abhedananda on Town Street. Students who journeyed to the Ashrama would board there while they studied Vedic philosophy and yoga. The Swami Abhedananda closed the Vedanta Ashrama in 1919 and moved to California, where he found a greater number of people interested in his teachings.
Rene De Quelin, the chief designer at Louis Comfort Tiffany Studios in New York, purchased a home in Cornwall in 1917 and was active in town through the 1920s, giving lectures at the Cornwall Men’s Society meetings, hosting a summer artists’ colony, and giving art lessons.
Spencer Baird Nichols, who also worked for Louis Comfort Tiffany Studios, operated an art school in Cornwall Bridge. The school is only known to have been in operation during the summers of 1930 and 1931.
Also during the 1930s, Cornwall native, Arlington Yutzler took classes from George Baer. Baer had inherited an estate near the Covered Bridge in West Cornwall named Griswold Hills and operated an art school there for several years.
Yutzler was encouraged to attend art school in New York City by Baer. Though Yutzler did go, he did not finish as he had to return to Cornwall to attend to the family store. Thanks to Yutzler’s return to Cornwall, and other’s that called Cornwall home, there is a bounty of artwork depicting the landscape and everyday life of Cornwall.