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Healing the Place of Great Spirit

Greetings from sun-drenched Dragon Rock, Russel Wright’s home and studio at Manitoga, where an early spring has awakened ferns, wildflowers, moss, leaves, and grass in our 75-acre forest garden. Wright, an influential mid-twentieth-century American industrial designer, transformed this once devastated land into a place of rare beauty that he called Manitoga, taken from Algonquin words meaning “place of great spirit.” Over the course of 35 years until his death in 1976, Wright lovingly created Manitoga as an object lesson in living in harmony with nature for all to enjoy.

Manitoga offers the world many enduring lessons, but we are at risk of losing Wright’s masterpiece. The magnificent canopy of hemlock trees, so important to Wright’s landscape, has been lost to insect infestation and extreme weather, and a lack of resources threatens the integrity of this unique cultural landscape. Recent projects have helped secure the “envelope” of Wright’s modern house and restore its original “green” roof. However, the house interior, including exquisite built-in artifacts with natural elements such a butterflies, native plants, and hemlock needles, has also been compromised by years of severe fluctuations of temperature and humidity.

Despite Manitoga’s urgent conservation needs, we offer 90-minute guided house and landscape tours to the public. This year, as a 2012 Watch Site, we anticipate a record number of visitors during our tour season, which begins on May 4 and runs through October 28. Because of the fragile nature of the site, we limit the size of tours to ten individuals who enjoy an in-depth look at Russel Wright, the man who introduced modernism to millions, and his masterful interplay of nature and design at Manitoga. Visitors may visit Manitoga’s grounds during daylight hours year round, but must book house and landscape tours in advance through our website www.russelwrightcenter.org.