A Retreat for Creative Minds and a National Historic Landmark
by C.K. Thomas
Yaddo, an artists’ colony and retreat for serious artists in Saratoga Springs, New York, is the creation of author/poet Kate (Katrina) Nichols Trask (1853-1922).
The name Yaddo was coined by Christina, one of the Trasks’ four children, through her childish mispronunciation of the word shadow. Tragically all of the Trask children died either in infancy or childhood.
Kate believed the 400-acre estate resonated with a mystic energy for creative inspiration. From the age of 46 until her death in 1922, planning for the center became her main focus, along with her continued writing and publishing of sonnets, lyrics, plays and poetry. Her antiwar play The Vanguard, published in 1914, was performed widely at churches and for women’s organizations.
by Katrina Trask
Oh power of Love, Oh wondrous mystery!
How is my dark illumined by thy light,
That maketh morning of my gloomy night,
Setting my soul from Sorrow’s bondage free
With swift-sent revelation; yea, I see
Beyond the limitation of my sight
And senses, comprehending now, aright,
Today’s proportion to Eternity.
Through thee, my faith in God is made more sure,
My searching eyes have pierced the misty veil;
The pain and anguish which stern Sorrow brings,
Through thee become more easy to endure.
Love-strong I mount, and Heaven’s high summit scale;
Through thee, my soul has spread her folded wings.
Yaddo officially opened in 1926. Unfortunately, neither Kate nor her husband, Spencer, who died in a 1909 railroad accident, lived to see their dream to completion. Kate had several heart attacks and lived as an invalid on the estate for many of the years she spent planning Yaddo.
Over the decades, more than 6,000 artists have frequented Yaddo, including Leonard Bernstein, Truman Capote, Ruth Heller, Patricia Highsmith, Flannery O’Conner, Sylvia Plath, Katherine Anne Porter, and Mario Puzo. Patricia Highsmith, who wrote The Talented Mr. Ripley, among other novels, bequeathed her entire $3 million estate to Yaddo during the center’s Centennial Gift Campaign.
Tourists are welcome to visit the extensive gardens at Yaddo, but there is no access to the mansion or the artists’ residences, with the exception of special events.
Liberty’s Women, Wikipedia, and Alloveralbany.com
C.K. Thomas lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Before retiring, she worked for Phoenix Newspapers while raising three children and later as communications editor for a large United Methodist Church. The Storm Women is her fourth novel and the third in the Arrowstar series about adventurous women of the desert Southwest. Follow her blog: We-Tired and Writing Blog.