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The MacDowell Colony   


The History

In 1918 construction began on a cottage at a secluded New Hampshire artists' retreat where thousands of composers, writers and visual artists have come over the years to do their creative work in comfort and solitude. The idea for such a structure was proposed by Mary Christie of Delta Chapter. The SAI Convention body of 1916 (representing the 11 chapters then in existence) seized the challenge and agreed to raise the necessary funds. With the support of Marian MacDowell, widow of the famed American composer whose life and career inspired the founding of the Colony, the necessary resources were in hand in an astonishing two years. When the cottage was completed, it was given outright to the MacDowell Colony by SAI.

That "cottage" is actually a handsome 3-story white house which can accommodate 12 artists, the largest residence facility at the Colony. It proudly bears the name "Pan's Cottage."

The Present – Hillcrest Music Room Restoration

:In the second century of our existence we have embarked upon another major project with MacDowell,: says Arlene Veron, Past Chairman, SAI Philanthropies, Inc. SAI Philanthropies, Inc. has provided a gift of $75,000 to MacDowell Colony.

“Visiting the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire, is like having a fairytale come true. This is one of the absolute peak experiences of my SAI career.”

These words, spoken by Sarah Mason, National Vice President, Membership, during a recent board meeting held in New Hampshire, summarized the feelings of all of us who had the privilege of walking the grounds of the MacDowell Colony in July.

The MacDowell Colony Resident Director David Macy arranged a private reception and tour of Hillcrest, the home of Edward and Marian MacDowell, for current and former members of the National Executive Board and the board of SAI Philanthropies, Inc. As was announced at the 2006 Convention, SAI presented a $75,000 gift to the MacDowell Colony to restore and preserve Edward MacDowell’s music room at Hillcrest. A special plaque acknowledging this gift was unveiled during the visit.

It reads, “The preservation of Edward MacDowell’s Music Room at Hillcrest was made possible by a generous gift from Sigma Alpha Iota Philanthropies, Inc. 2007.”

You are invited to walk with us through this special place that has continued to support the dreams of so many artists, thanks in part to the generous gifts of Sigma Alpha Iota members. Pan’s Cottage still welcomes composers and other MacDowell Colony Fellows, just as it did in 1919, when completed with funds provided by SAI members.

“Over the years, our Sigma Alpha Iota membership has had a strong kinship with The MacDowell Colony,” SAI is largely responsible for funding and maintaining the Colony’s Pan’s Cottage, a building that houses artists from all artistic disciplines.  Many SAI members have been Colony Fellows, including Louise Talma, Violet Archer, Jean Eichelberger-Ivey, Dika Newlin and Alice Parker.  Veron says that “the vital history of music at The MacDowell Colony, the important practical and symbolic function of the Music Room and Hillcrest today, and the fact that Mrs. MacDowell used it as her home for creating a place that would have such a lasting role in American art” are just a few reasons why SAI chose to support the Hillcrest Music Room preservation project.  “Edward composed in this very room, “ she elaborates, and Marian entertained artists and friends there.  The Music Room also has a Mason Hamlin piano that Colony Fellow and composer Louise Talma – an Honorary Member of SAI- left to the Colony in 1996.  (Excerpts taken from The MacDowell Colony Newsletter, Vol.35, No.1, Summer 2006)

Pictures of the SAI National Executive Board and the Board of SAI Philanthropies, Inc. touring MacDowell and the restored Hillcrest Room can be seen in the Fall 2007 Pan Pipes.

Opportunities for Chapter or Individual Involvement

All chapters should avail themselves of the opportunity to use the two video presentations on the MacDowell Colony, which can be borrowed through the SAI Multimedia Technology, to better acquaint their members with the story of the Colony and SAI's role there.

Project Director

For information about the MacDowell Colony and Pan's Cottage, view

Pan's Cottage   


Pan's Cottage

Pan's Cottage


Pan's Cottage Plaque

The SAI plaque affixed to Pan's Cottage.


Hillcrest Room fireplace

The restored Edward MacDowell Music  Room


Hillcrest Room Bust

The bust of Edward MacDowell

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