Marlboro Music Ensures Its Future Through Agreement to Purchase Potash Hill

Marlboro Music Festival has an announcement:

Dear Friends,

I am delighted to share with you the news that Marlboro Music has come to agreement with Democracy Builders Fund—our landlord this past year, following the closure of Marlboro College—to purchase the Marlboro campus that has been our only home since 1951. This arrangement includes an amicable settlement with Type 1 Civilization, which has been engaged with Democracy Builders in a dispute over ownership rights. We have issued a press release about this transaction, which ushers in an exciting new chapter in our history.

Our purchase of the Vermont property ensures that our musical program and community will remain on this beautiful campus for generations to come. It will allow us to preserve the land and historic farm buildings, and to improve and tailor the facilities for our use, for the benefit of the surrounding communities, and for other cultural, educational, and environmental purposes. It will provide a vital measure of stability to our planning, and to the town of Marlboro.

We enter into this new era with our eyes open, knowing that the transaction creates new challenges, costs, and responsibilities moving forward. But all of us—our board, staff, musicians, family members, and friends—love this property and want to make sure it is protected. We will be taking some time now to engage in some careful strategic, facility, and financial planning. We will also begin to explore the enormous potential of the campus for wonderful collaborations and opportunities for its off-season use.

We would never be in this position without the confidence and support of so many friends, and I send heartfelt thanks for your role in maintaining Marlboro Music and our unique mission and values. We look forward to keeping you apprised of our work and plans over the coming year and beyond. In the meantime, I send warm greetings and regards from Mitsuko, Jonathan, their senior artist colleagues, and our entire board, staff and community.


Christopher Serkin
President and Chair, Marlboro Board of Trustees


Here’s the press release:

Marlboro Music Ensures Its Future Through Agreement to Purchase Potash Hill

July 21, 2021
For more information contact:
Brian Potter:
Marlboro Music, the internationally-acclaimed chamber music study center and festival, announced today that it has reached agreement with Democracy Builders Fund and Type 1 Civilization to purchase the Potash Hill campus, formerly owned by Marlboro College, in Marlboro, Vermont. The parties will be working together to obtain any necessary approvals and look forward to a swift transfer of the property. The purchase ensures that this historic property will remain intact, preserved, and the home campus for Marlboro Music for generations to come.
Marlboro Music
“We are delighted to announce this historic agreement enabling us to protect Potash Hill and our use of the campus,” said Christopher Serkin, Marlboro Music’s President and Board Chair. “I am very grateful to the leadership of Democracy Builders Fund and Type 1 Civilization for the respectful and productive discussions that have led to this agreement, and to my colleagues on the board and staff of Marlboro Music for their hard work and support.”

“It has been a pleasure working with Chris and his team to forge a stable future for the property, to settle campus-related debts, and to resolve the dispute between our organization and Type 1 Civilization,” stated Alize-Jazel Smith, Chair of Democracy Builders Fund. “My colleagues and I remain deeply committed to our innovative vision for serving students from vulnerable populations, yet we have come to realize that Potash Hill is just not practical for our operations. We are glad that the campus will be protected, and we look forward to moving on to the next chapter in pursuit of our vital mission.”

Adrian Stein, President of Type 1 Civilization, stated, “I am delighted that this matter, and all litigation surrounding the campus, has been resolved amicably and in a manner that ensures that the campus will continue to serve as the home of the world-renowned Marlboro Music Festival.”

Marlboro Music

The Potash Hill campus was the location of Marlboro College, a small and progressive liberal arts institution, from 1946 until the College’s merger with Emerson College, in Boston, in 2020. During that transition, Emerson announced that it would not be using the property, and Marlboro College sold it through a closed bidding process to Democracy Builders Fund, for a new model for post-secondary education. However, the COVID lockdown, financial challenges, and legal issues involving the organization’s founder prevented Democracy Builders Fund from launching its program.

Marlboro Music has used most of the campus for its summer program every year since 1951. Prior to the College’s dissolution, the organizations entered into a 99-year lease protecting the music school’s continued seasonal use of the property. Over the past decade, Marlboro Music has invested more than $15 million in new housing for its senior musicians, on-campus facility improvements, a new residence hall, and the beautiful new Jerome and Celia Bertin Reich Building, containing chamber music rehearsal studios, a music library, and other vital spaces for its musicians, staff, and community. “Potash Hill has been our only home,” said Philip Maneval, Manager of Marlboro Music. “The beauty, privacy, and intimacy of the setting are integral to the in-depth exchange of ideas, and the nurturing family of musicians who gather on campus each summer. There is a wonderful, idealistic synergy here between music, nature, and community.”

As Marlboro Music begins this exciting new chapter in its history, it will be taking time to consider the year-round needs, possibilities, and potential of the property. “I plan to ask our Board for a temporary moratorium on off-season use of the facilities,” said Serkin. “We will be using this transitional period to carefully study and assess the campus; to seek input from our friends and patrons, town residents, conservationists, and other vital constituents; and to evaluate our goals moving forward. It will allow us to consider off-season uses that are compatible with our summer program and community, and to begin seeking grants and contributions for a fund dedicated to covering the annual costs for properly maintaining this beautiful and historic property for generations to come.”

Leave a Reply