Our History

Sherborne House meeting in the 1970's
Sherborne House meeting
in the 1970's

In the late 1960's and early 1970's, John G. Bennett, philosopher, scientist, and educator, founded the International Academy for Continuous Education (IACE) at Sherborne House in Gloucestshire, England. It was dedicated to teaching practical ways to bring balance to human life and spiritual development. Bennett taught from his understanding realized from his work with G. I. Gurdjieff and others. He provided a practical approach for preparing ordinary people for spiritual work and transformation, in order to serve the future.

Gurdieff/Bennett Work in Massachusetts

Many Americans attended Sherborne and returned to the United States after completing the program, with a large group settling in Massachusetts. One group began working together in "Marshfield House" in Marshfield, Massachusetts. Some attended a program similar to Sherborne at Claymont Court in Charles Town, West Virginia, and moved to the Boston area after the program.

Roots in Somerville, Massachusetts

Bill Bleak, second year Sherborne graduate, began a Work group on Pearl Street in Somerville, Massachusetts, together with other Sherborne and Marshfield House alumni. During that time, another group house began known as "Cozy Cottage Corners", with most residents also participating in Pearl Street meetings.

Urban arts experiment

Initiated by Don O'Dell, first year Sherborne graduate, the Cottage Corners residents began an urban arts experiment, a store named the Art Ark in Somerville, Massachusetts. The center had a coffeehouse, art and craft gallery, and community arts gathering area.

Migrating to rural Massachusetts

During that time, Bleak relocated to "Hull House" in Hull, Massachusetts and was the first to move out to the Athol/Royalston area. Over the years, many from the Pearl Street group migrated to the central Massachusetts area creating an "invisible village." They chose a rural life with opportunities for a deeper connection to nature as a setting for group work. Members also attended from Boston and surrounding urban locations.

Founding the Millers River Educational Cooperative, Inc. (MREC)

In 1998, Millers River Educational Cooperative purchased the Camp Caravan property in Royalston, Massachusetts as a place for group work. In the spring of 1989, this group incorporated as Millers River Educational Cooperative, Inc., and founded the Village School, an independent elementary school guided by the ideas of J.G. Bennett.

The history of the Camp Caravan site

In the late 1800's, Camp Caravan was a large inn, famous for its view of Mt. Monadnock. After the inn burned to the ground in 1906, it was rebuilt as a high school for girls, run by the Lemon family. In 1946, the Caravan Society purchased the property as a place for a summer camp for handicapped, impoverished, and special needs children from the Boston area, with Ed McCarty from Somerville, Massachusetts as the founder and head.

Camp Caravan Camp for Children

For forty years, Camp Caravan was the site of a remarkable summer camp and community for children with special needs. Children rode the trains out from Boston and stayed for 3-6 weeks.

Many alumni of the camp describe the experience as one of the great positive forming experiences of their lives. Alumni still gather to honor the history and support Camp Caravan as a continuing educational and cultural community in the region.

Millers River and Camp Caravan

The camp closed in 1985 and was derelict until purchased by Millers River Educational Cooperative (MREC) in 1998. It is the site for the future home of the Village School, and an ideal campus for practical education for every stage of life.