Perry-Mansfield through the years |

Perry-Mansfield through the years

Andy Bockelman

The entrance to Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp on Routt County Road 36.


Smith College graduates Charlotte Perry, and Portia Mansfield found a performing arts camp, originally called Rocky Mountain Dancing Club, that focuses on theater, dance and equestrian pursuits for young people.

1914: First camp is set up near Lake Eldora.

1915: Perry and Mansfield relocate to property near Steamboat Springs.

1918: Main Lodge is built.


Club Camp is developed for adults, teaching similar classes as the younger students. The theater program is further developed to include pantomime, analysis of plays for production, commedia, makeup, scenery, lighting and costume design and many other topics. Dance courses include the foxtrot, Argentinian tango, Spanish heel work, Russian and Italian technique, tap, softshoe and more. Dancers also begin touring around the country after

summer sessions.

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1921: Camp name is officially changed to Perry-Mansfield.

1922: Main studio is built.


Dance curriculum moves toward modern dance techniques. Theater students focus on Greek, Roman, medieval, Elizabethan and contemporary dramas, including works by Perry.


The camp offers classes as part of the World War II home effort, such as war preparation leadership, work in conservation, winter evacuation center and protection against fire in our national forests. Perry-Mansfield students begin teaching dance and drama to Steamboat children. The camp offers college credits through University of Wyoming's theater program.


Perry and Mansfield organize the first Symposia for the Arts, leading to the establishment of the Colorado Council for the Arts. Mansfield markets her own films on rhythmic movement and dance correctives and helps friend Lowell Whiteman found the Lowell Whiteman Ranch Camp for Boys. The theater program begins offering winter classes in New York City. The camp hosts the National Instruction and Rating Center for Riding and distributes instructional films on riding horses.

1957: Julie Harris Theatre is built. Designed by Willard Sage and named after the famed actress and former student, it offers proscenium, thrust and theater-in-the-round formats.


Perry and Mansfield begin transferring ownership of the camp to Stephens College.

1963: 50th anniversary celebration.

1965: Stephens College takes full ownership of the camp.


Perry-Mansfield transitions from an independent organization to a summer campus for Stephens College programs, offering new rental cabins to generate income when camp wasn't in session.


1980: Art Department addition to Main Lodge is built.

1988: Diamond jubilee celebration.


Local group Friends of Perry-Mansfield raises funds to buy the camp from Stephens College, eventually becoming owners.

1991: Friends of Perry-Mansfield rents the property for $1.

1994: The group raises $1.2 million to buy the camp outright.

1999: New Works program begins with Burgess Clark's "Southern Cross."


The Perry-Mansfield program expands with workshops such as Cabaret and Composers on Stage and new connections with Alvin Ailey Co., Paul Taylor Co. and The Juilliard School, thanks to Director of Dance Linda Kent. The New Works program expands with the New Noises Studio for student playwrights.


2013: Perry-Mansfield celebrates its centennial.