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A Long Legacy of Altruism: A Visit to the MacDowell Colony

crottyby Jennifer Crotty
(Delta Mu, University of Massachusetts)

During my ten-plus years as an Alpha Chi Omega, I have often heard about our Foundation’s support of the MacDowell Colony in Petersborough, New Hampshire, particularly in February, which we celebrate as MacDowell Month. However, despite living only an hour or so away, I had never been there in person. So when the opportunity arose to visit the MacDowell Colony for their Medal Day in August 2009, I decided to go and experience Alpha Chi Omega’s first altruistic project for myself.

Two of my Zeta Zeta (Boston, Mass.) sisters, Rashmi Khare (Theta Omicron, MIT) and Lexi Swinimer (Iota Psi, Elon), and I started off the day with a picnic in a field while listening to the Medal Day ceremony. Following the ceremony, the entire colony is open for visitors to explore. We started off by visiting some of the common areas, such as the library, which holds a work from each artist to have ever been in residence at the colony.

rashmiWe also participated in the Medal Day art project, which was a giant yarn weaving. However, the most important stop on our tour, we saved for last – the Star Studio, which was built in 1911 with funds from Alpha Chi Omega.

Nestled deep in the woods, the Star Studio is a simple structure comprised of a bedroom/living room, bathroom and kitchenette. “Tombs” inscribed with the names of every artist to have ever been in residence at the Star Studio adorn the walls and the 1911 dedication plaque is still on display. Whereas the building itself is simple, the feeling of being in the place where Alpha Chi Omega’s long legacy of altruism started was quite profound.

Awarded each year on the 2nd Sunday of August, the Edward MacDowell Medal is given by The MacDowell Colony to an artist who has made an outstanding contribution to his or her field; the ceremony is open to the public. If you are able, I encourage you to attend and experience the colony yourself.

Visit the MacDowell Colony.


  1. jenn |

    Love this story! So glad y’all could make the trip together; even more cool that you represented three different chapters! LITB and ***