From the Archives: July/August 2018

Interlochen Arts Camp has changed substantially since its founding 90 years ago. Today, there are new facilities, new programs and even a new ice cream shop. But the core mission of the Camp has remained the same: to connect talented young artists with like-minded peers under the tutelage of passionate instructors.

While cabin life looks much the same for today’s students as the students of the past, faculty residences have grown and evolved with the Camp. Today, Interlochen Arts Camp’s faculty and staff dwell in a variety of historic buildings.

During the first summer in 1928, faculty life at the National High School Orchestra Camp was far from glamorous. The Camp, already in debt from building the Interlochen Bowl and student cabins, had few funds left for faculty residences. The handful of extra cabins that were constructed were reserved for donors and distinguished guests.

One such guest in 1928 was composer Howard Hanson, who stayed in a lakefront cabin near the Girls’ Camp during his visit to Interlochen. According to tradition, Hanson wrote the theme of his second symphony—known today as the “Interlochen theme”—while residing in the cabin. Today, the “Howard Hanson Cabin” has been assimilated into the High School Girls Division, where it is Cabin 12. A small brass plaque next to the door reminds modern-day residents of the cabin’s contribution to American instrumental music.

With these lakefront cabins held in reserve for guests, faculty members had few choices for housing. The Pennington Hotel—which would later be acquired by the Camp and become the Interlochen Bowl Hotel—was of course available, but as it was not yet owned by the Camp, faculty members who chose to stay there paid for their rooms out of their own pockets. A few faculty opted to live in the cabins with the students, serving double-duty as both instructors and cabin counselors. Most, however, spent the eight-week session living in tents.

Not even T. P. Giddings, Interlochen’s co-founder, received preferential treatment. For the first several years of Camp, Giddings resided in a “traveling home,” an early model of today’s recreational vehicles.

In 1938, Giddings finally received his own cabin, a story-and-a-half structure located at the top of the Interlochen Bowl where the DeRoy Center for Film Studies now stands. Giddings would reside in the cabin for the next 15 summers, until his death in March of 1954. After Giddings’ death, the cottage was relocated to the area next to the newly built Mozart and Beethoven Houses. Only ten years later, in 1965, it was again moved, this time to its present location on Water Tower Road in Penn Colony. Today, Giddings’ cottage is known as “CP 18,” and serves as a summer residence for Arts Camp faculty.

As years passed and the Camp grew, so too did the faculty, and with it, the need for faculty housing. By 1933, nine “hotel cottages” had been built to the east of the Interlochen Bowl, along what is now Frederick Stock Avenue. By 1938, several dormitories for staff and College Division students had been built across the road from the hotel cottages, earning the intervening street the name “Faculty Row.” Nearly all of these buildings have since been demolished or relocated to make way for new facilities: only “H6,” previously a University Women’s dormitory, remains in its original location.

Despite the new buildings, faculty housing was still at a premium. In 1946, the Camp purchased Wylie Village for $6,000. The village, a logging settlement that employed about 100 men in its heyday, had been established by the Wylie Cooperage Company around 1888 and abandoned in 1915. With its existent cottages and convenient location between the Boys’ and Girls’ camps, Wylie was readily incorporated to the campus as much-needed faculty housing.

It was also during the 1940s that Joseph Maddy and Interlochen’s treasurer, C. M. Tremaine, developed the concept of the scholarship lodge. Under the scholarship lodge model, a donor would pay for a housing unit to be built on Interlochen’s campus. These lodges would then be rented, and funds from rentals would support a student scholarship in the donor’s name.

While these lodges were originally intended for rental by guest artists, parents and tourists, they also became a housing option for faculty and staff. Today, many year-round and summer staff still live in the dozens of lodges scattered across Interlochen’s campus.

In 1955, three longhouse-style dormitories—Beethoven, Mozart and Brahms (now McWhorter)—were constructed to create additional housing for faculty, staff and College Division students. A fourth dormitory, Thor Johnson, was added in 1960. Although these four buildings were ostensibly constructed for summer staff, they were also the first step in the realization of Maddy’s dream of a year-round arts high school. Today, the four buildings, along with the newer Hemingway, Picasso and DeRoy dormitories, serve dual purposes as Interlochen Arts Academy residence halls and summer staff housing.

Today’s faculty and staff enjoy a variety of housing options, from residence hall rooms to lakefront cottages. Whatever option they choose, summer faculty staff enjoy the beauty of northern Michigan and the vibrance of campus life—just like their students do.