Newsletter and Subscription Sign Up

Contoocook Valley Arts Center has New Name

Published Wednesday Jan 30, 2019

Contoocook Valley Arts Center has New Name

The Contoocook Valley Visual and Performing Arts Center has a new name.

The Wilder Family is adding Thornton Wilder’s name to a performing arts center in the works at Contoocook Valley Regional High School in Peterborough, according to Wilder’s nephew and literary executor Tappan Wilder. This is the first time Thornton Wilder’s name will be associated with a performing arts facility.

According to a statement, the 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 the school and community and a grassroots initiative to garner support for the project has been underway for several years 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,” says 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, and theatre designer Tony Forman of Nextstage Design in New Haven, CT, are based on 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

All Stories