A Brief History of the Threefold Community

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In 1949, Threefold Auditorium was dedicated, its 200 seats giving a permanent indoor home to the summer conferences as well as many other artistic and educational events. The Fellowship, an Anthroposophical retirement community, was chartered in 1966, and a program of Eurythmy training that evolved into Eurythmy Spring Valley was begun by Lisa Monges in the early 1970s.

Threefold Auditorium in the 1950s

The 1950s saw further expansion of Main House (which had last been altered in the 1930s), and the construction of Richard Kroth’s painting studio, which later became the home of Eurythmy Spring Valley. The opening of the Tappan Zee Bridge in 1955 heralded Rockland County’s transformation from agricultural haven to bedroom community. Some farsighted Threefold members saw that rising property values and burgeoning subdivisions threatened the community’s very existence, so in 1965, the last year of his life, Ralph Courtney oversaw the chartering of the Threefold Educational Foundation and School. The new foundation became an umbrella under which the community’s various property holdings and legal entities were consolidated. Establishing the foundation created a firm institutional framework to house the community’s future initiatives; just as importantly, it preserved the rural feeling along Hungry Hollow Road that is treasured by all our residents and visitors.

Summer conferences continued through the 1970s, including "Self Development and Social Responsibility," a remarkable international youth conference that drew some 600 participants from throughout the U.S. and Europe in August 1970. Threefold initiated a Foundation Studies program in the 1970s, and a painting school was added in 1982. In 1986, the Waldorf Institute, a Detroit-based Waldorf teacher-education school, relocated to the Threefold campus and took on the name Sunbridge College. From 1991 to 2009, Sunbridge College was accredited to grant the M.S. degree in Waldorf education, making it the only state-chartered anthroposophical teacher-education institution in North America. Today known as Sunbridge Institute, its programs are recognized by the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, qualifying graduates to teach in Waldorf schools worldwide. Sunbridge’s popular summer programs for Waldorf teachers carry on the Threefold tradition of summer adult education in service of Anthroposophy.

In 1993, the Hungry Hollow Co-op Natural Foods Market, which began in 1973 as a natural foods buyers’ club in the basement of a Green Meadow teacher’s home, opened its doors to the public at the location of the old Threefold Corner Store. When the Co-op’s building was renovated and expanded in 2004, Threefold extended its mandate for conscious land care by installing a 3,000 square foot rain garden and starting an ongoing program of ecological landscaping.

The life of the Threefold Community has always been intertwined with the development of the Biodynamic method of agriculture and land care in North America. In Threefold Farm’s earliest days, it was home to the first Biodynamic gardens in North America. Ehrenfried Pfeiffer, whom Rudolf Steiner selected to be ambassador of Biodynamics to our shores, taught at the first summer conference in 1933, and at dozens more courses in the years that followed. He lived and worked at Threefold from 1946 until his death in 1961, and his biochemical laboratory carried on its work at the community until 1974.

Biodynamic gardening at the Pfeiffer Center in 2007

Mac Mead

In 1996, Threefold built upon this legacy by creating the Pfeiffer Center for Biodynamics and Environmental Education. The Pfeiffer Center’s founding director, Gunther Hauk, brought to Threefold many years’ experience as a Waldorf teacher, authority on Biodynamics, and beekeeper. In its first ten years, the Pfeiffer Center’s One-Year Part-Time Course in Biodynamics, internship program, workshops on beekeeping and other topics, and other programs for adults and children earned it a national reputation for developing and promoting innovative and forward-thinking agricultural and educational practices. In 2007, direction of the Pfeiffer Center was taken over by Mac Mead, a Biodynamic farmer and educator whose personal ties to the community reach back to the 1970s.

The residents and institutions of the Threefold community have been promoting spiritual values in the arts, education and community life since 1926. The 1965 charter of the Threefold Educational Foundation created a secure but flexible environment under which all its affiliated institutions – present and future – could experiment and evolve in freedom. Today, Green Meadow Waldorf School, Sunbridge Institute, the Hungry Hollow Co-op, the Pfeiffer Center, and many other projects and enterprises thrive under Threefold’s physical and institutional umbrella, while innovative new impulses in education, agriculture, land care, and the arts are continually arising. The Threefold Educational Center gives each one a fertile bed in which it can germinate, take root and grow.

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