Seton Village makeover
The new home of the Academy for the Love of Learning is taking shape in Seton Village, south of Santa Fe. The nonprofit educational organization, working with Spears Architects, first thought of using rammed-earth technology for its Academy Center walls but later settled on insulating concrete forms. The center sports a contemporary design featuring sharp corners, a barrel roof, a wraparound cable balcony, and big glass surfaces formed by massive sliding doors.
Besides the Academy Center, the campus includes two guest units, a caretaker’s quarters, and a central utility building. The facilities have been designed to accommodate gathering rooms, a high-tech media center, an art studio, a performance space, and an area devoted to the books, artwork, archives, and artifacts of a former owner of the property — naturalist and writer Ernest Thompson Seton.
Seton, who bought the property in 1930, was the organizer — some 28 years earlier — of a youth movement called Woodcraft Indians, later renamed the Woodcraft League of America. He was also a prolific wildlife illustrator and, in 1910, a co-founder of the Boy Scouts of America. In 1930, he built the 32-room stone and adobe structure that became known as Seton Castle. In 2003 (57 years after Seton’s death), Beulah Deanna (Dee) Seton Barber sold the “castle” and surrounding acreage to the Academy for the Love of Learning.
Founded in 1998 in Sedona, Arizona, the academy evolved from a 10-year collaboration between academy president Aaron Stern (then dean of the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago) and his mentor, Leonard Bernstein. A history at the academy’s website (www.aloveoflearning.org) says that, following Bernstein’s death in 1990, Stern continued to work with parents, teachers, and school administrators “determined to provide a holistic, life-affirming
Academy for the Love of Learning’s new building, with the ruins of Seton Castle in the background; top, a room in Seton Castle displaying Ernest Thompson Seton’s artwork in the 1950s; courtesy Academy for the Love of Learning