Wilder Family offers name

to planned performing arts center

CONTACT:       Rob Eichler


PETERBOROUGH, NH:  The Contoocook Valley Visual and Performing Arts Center has a new name.

“The Wilder Family is deeply honored to add Thornton Wilder’s name to a performing arts center in the works at Contoocook Valley Regional High School in Peterborough, New Hampshire,” Wilder’s nephew and literary executor Tappan Wilder announced today.  This is the first time Thornton Wilder’s name will be associated with a performing arts facility.

Thornton Wilder Center for the Arts will support a thriving arts scene in a region rich in theatre, music, visual and literary arts.  Construction of the center will provide long-needed facilities for school and community.  A grassroots initiative enlisting support for this project for several years has been known as Fill the Void.

Thornton Wilder was awarded many residencies at the MacDowell [Artists] Colony in Peterborough, where he worked on novels and plays including Our Town.  “Wilder situated his works across time and geography—from an Island in pre-Christian Greece to Camden, New Jersey. But his most famous artistic address by far is a fictional New Hampshire village called Grover’s Corners.  Grover’s Corners is of course everywhere, but even ‘everywhere’ is inspired by somewhere.  And it is no secret that Our Town’s iconic setting was drawn from our uncle’s deep association with the  MacDowell Colony, the town of Peterborough, and the miles of walks he took in the region, a  favored way of conceiving scenes for later transfer to paper,” recounts Tappan.

The Wilder family, including Tappan’s sister, Catharine Wilder Guiles, is thrilled that Thornton Wilder “will now have a permanent presence in the place that inspired a piece of work considered a masterpiece of dramatic literature,” says Tappan.  The family, however, celebrates this naming for a greater reason: “Thornton Wilder Center for the Arts honors a writer who was famous, in and beyond the classroom, for encouraging the work of other artists.  Long may the Center inspire those who dream, create, walk, and perform.”

Conceptual designs by Dan Scully and Dave Drasba of Scully/Architects in Keene, NH, and theatre designer Tony Forman of Nextstage Design in New Haven, CT, are based on flexible, adaptable space that can accommodate performances from large-scale concerts to small-scale theatre and music events.

“It’s an exciting time for the Contoocook Valley Regional High School and the greater Monadnock region of New Hampshire as we move forward with plans to create a performing arts center,” says Rob Eichler, President of the arts center Board. “We are extremely grateful for the naming rights and endorsement from the Wilder Family.”  The project’s board plans to commence a capital campaign in 2019.  For more information, visit the website at www.thorntonwildercenterforthearts.org.


Contoocook Valley Visual and Performing Arts Center, in conjunction with the nine-town ConVal school district board, has recognized the high value of arts education and the need for a multi-purpose arts facility that will serve school and community.  The nonprofit organization was established by a grassroots group in 2014.


With its new name, Thornton Wilder Center for the Arts, the organization continues to pursue its goal to support high-quality education in the arts, and a performance venue for the use of school and community.  Thornton Wilder Center for the Arts is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization. For more information about Thornton Wilder Center for the Arts, visit:  ThorntonWilderCenterfortheArts.org, or write to: REichler@ThorntonWilderCenterfortheArts.org .


Thornton Wilder (1897-1975) was a novelist and playwright whose works celebrate the connection between the commonplace and the cosmic dimensions of human experience.  He is the only writer to win Pulitzer Prizes for both drama and fiction: for his novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey, and two plays, Our Town and The Skin of Our Teeth.  His other nov­els include The Cabala, The Woman of Andros, Heaven’s My Destination, The Ides of March, The Eighth Day and Theophilus North. His other major dramas include The Matchmaker (adapted as the musical Hello, Dolly!) and The Alcestiad. The Happy Journey to Trenton and Camden, Pullman Car Hiawatha and The Long Christmas Dinner are among his well-known shorter plays. He enjoyed enormous success as a translator, adaptor, actor, librettist and lecturer/teacher and his screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt remains a classic psycho-thriller to this day. Wilder’s many honors include the Gold Medal for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  More information on Thornton Wilder and his family is available in Penelope Niven’s definitive biography, Thornton Wilder: A Life (2013) as well as on the Wilder Family website, www.thorntonwilder.com.

THE WILDER FAMILY LLC celebrates Thornton Wilder as an international Playwright and Novelist. Through partnerships and collaborations with agents, publishers and practitioners throughout the world, THE WILDER FAMILY LLC seeks to introduce Wilder’s body of work to new audiences, and to encourage subsidiary works based on his published and unpublished record. The family also represents the literary record for Wilder’s three siblings who were also writers: Amos, Charlotte, and Isabel. With the support of Yale’s Beinecke Rare Books and Manuscript Library (home of the Wilder Family Archive) and The Thornton Wilder Society, THE WILDER FAMILY LLC encourages teaching and scholarship in Thornton Wilder and his family.

Thornton Wilder - Center for the Arts