Perry-Mansfield makes long-lasting mark on Steamboat
Steamboat Springs — 1913 — Charlotte Perry and Portia Mansfield (Swett) start the Rocky Mountain Dance
Camp at Lake Eldora in the mountains outside of Denver. The camp opens as a place
for dance and drama students to expand their horizons in the mountain settings of
1914 — Charlotte Perry and Portia Mansfield move the Rocky Mountain Dance Camp to
Strawberry Park. The camp starts with 15 acres and one small cabin called Cabeen,
which was built in the 1880s.
1918 — The Main Lodge is built at the camp by Perry’s brother Bob, who sends some
of the men from the coal mines in Oak Creek to build it.
1921— The Rocky Mountain
Dance Camp becomes the Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp.
1922 — The Main Studio is expanded to include an art room, a faculty dining room and
a bigger kitchen.
1957 — The Julie Harris Theatre is built and named for actor Julie Harris, who was a
Perry-Mansfield camper and then a teacher from 1940 to 1942. The building was
designed by Willard Sage, who studied with Frank Lloyd Wright, and it is a fine example
of mid-century Wright style.
1960 — The Louis Horst Studio of Dance is dedicated.
1965 — Operations and ownership of Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and
Camp are transferred to Stephens College, a women’s college in Columbia, Missouri.
1990 — Stephens College withdrawals from Perry-Mansfield and announces it will no
longer run the camp and plans to sell the campus. Community members form Friends of
1991— Friends of Perry Mansfield works out a deal with Stephens College to rent the
camp for $1 that summer. The group takes over operations.
1993 — Friends of Perry Mansfield raises the necessary funds to buy camp from
Stephens College. In July of 1994 the group holds a ceremony where they burn copies of the Mortgage on the campus ending the four-year struggle to keep the school and camp open.
1997 — The Pavilion is built on the Perry-Mansfield campus. The building is open and
airy, and like all the other rehearsal and performance spaces on campus, there are
1999 — New Works program begins at Perry-Mansfield with Burgess Clark’s “Southern
2013 — Perry-Mansfield celebrates 100 years. Today, the camp is recognized as the
oldest, continuously-operating performing arts school/camp in the nation.
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