Heath Pasture Studio

 

     Heath Pasture Studio


The Heath Pasture House studio.
Photo by F. Earl Williams

Robert Strong Woodward rode around the country roads at first with his horse and buggy, and subsequently with an open Packard Phaeton automobile, looking for the places to paint which took his fancy.  One of these places was at the top of Burnt Hill in Heath where there was a spectacular view and where there was a lone wind-blown beech tree which completely fascinated him.  

     He made many paintings there and eventually exchanged two oil paintings (Blue Drifts and Autumn Brilliance) with the owners of the abandoned pasture for the 140 acres of mountain top land. The original owners of this mountain top property were Roswell and Florence Tripp then of Rye, New York and Heath, Mass.  Their summer home in Heath had been burned to the ground by antique theives and the mountain pasture had little use to them.  On this, his hired man, Fabian, built a rustic studio called the Pasture House so that he would be able to continue to paint even on cold winter days.  In those days it was not a town-maintained road out to the property.  Hired help had to keep the road open except in mid winter and in the worst of “mud season.”

     At this time the horse shed which was a part of the Mary Lyon Church in Buckland Center was being dismantled.  Cars, not horses, were bringing people to church on Sunday mornings.  Fabian  convinced the  carpenters to give him the central ceiling beam to be used to “frame up” the new studio on the Heath hill top.  The beam was supposedly from a local virgin forest and was an extraordinarily long perfectly straight log which ran from one end to the other of this long shed.   Fabian cut it into the proper lengths and  dragged them the long distance up the mountain to the Heath pasture.   Here he  proceeded to build the new studio, with of course the artistic advice and experience of the artist himself.  It was a cabin of sorts with a wood stove and sturdily built outside rock chimney, a full picture window looking out over the valley toward the beech tree, a privy, an attached garage, a beautiful front stone plaza and a really comfortable inside room. 

Below is a picture of the Mary Lyon Church with the lengthy horse shed, where horses and buggies stood lined up waiting for church services to end.   The remaining pictures are of the interior and exterior of the Heath Pasture House in which numerous Woodward paintings were made.

      

The Mary Lyon Church in Buckland showing the horse shed to the right .

  When this barn was dismantled, its main timber was used to frame the Heath Pasture House.

                


A frontal view of the Heath Pasture House showing the picture window and open garage doors.
Photo by F. Earl Williams

 

 


A frontal view of the Heath Pasture House seen over the rocky ledges. Notice the stone seat on the plaza to the right.

 


 

 
The Heath Pasture House showing front plaza constructed with flat stones from the pasture ledges.
The plaza was built by his handyman, Fabian.  RSW is sitting in his wheelchair.

 


View looking out of the front window toward the valley and the famous beech tree.
Photos by F. Earl Williams

 


View of the interior of the Heath Pasture House, the old Glenwood living room stove,
the hanging kerosene ceiling lamp and the dining table.          Photos by F. Earl Williams

From the Burnt Hill Studio in the winter

Photo by F. Earl Williams

Robert Strong Woodward - Painter of New England Scenes - Winter Pastures

 

Worcester Mass. Telegram, June 28, 1942
 

 

RSW CHRISTMAS CARD

PHOTO BY F. EARL WILLIAMS

 
View out the open doors of the garage showing the beech tree.  See RSW oil painting Invitation
Photo by F. Earl Williams

 

 

                              Blueberries cover the pasture top abundantly in the summer.  2007

  


                          The spot where the famous beech tree once grew.
                         Baby beeches are sprouting up all around this spot.

 

         

 

 

 

 

One fall day in 1950, during the end of Massachusetts' deer hunting season,   RSW  was driven up to the pasture to make another painting only to discover the building completely burned to the ground.  Only the stone chimney remained standing.

He never again returned to the top of Burnt Hill.

  Heath Studio fire article

                                     Evening Moon         Oil

 

 

 

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Last updated: Wednesday, January 6, 2010 11:12 AM