Elverhoj (Danish for “hill of the fairies,” pronounced “El-ver-hoy”) was an Arts and Crafts colony established on the picturesque west shore of the Hudson River in 1912 by Danish American artists and craftsmen led by Anders Andersen. Little known today, the colony achieved a national reputation before World War I and earned a gold medal at the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco. That same year a write-up in Gustav Stickley’s Craftsman magazine with photos of the rustic studios added to the colony’s growing fame. Elverhoj was especially regarded for its jewelry and metalwork, but the works of painter-craftsman James Scott and etcher Ralph Pearson added to its renown, as did a fruitful connection with nearby Vassar College strengthened by the efforts of colony members Bessie and Henrietta Scott, sisters talented in textile arts. As part of the William Morris–inspired Arts and Crafts movement, Elverhoj experienced a decline in the 1920s, partially offset by the opening of a theatre with links to Broadway and the addition of a Moorish-style dining terrace. Still, the Depression dealt a fatal blow, despite Andersen’s enlisting the help of Eleanor Roosevelt, and the property was acquired by followers of the charismatic Black leader Father Divine, becoming one of his most popular “heavens.” Andersen, always the colony’s central figure but one who did not seek personal recognition, died in obscurity in 1944. Many of the book’s more than 160 illustrations stem from an archive kept by Andersen that has only recently come to light. Published by Black Dome Press and distributed by RIT Press.
Viking ship prows and Scandinavian wildlife were among the favorite motifs of a short-lived artisans’ collaborative called Elverhoj (pronounced el-ver-hoy), founded in 1912 on the Hudson River’s western shores just north of Newburgh, N.Y. “Elverhoj: The Arts and Crafts Colony at Milton-on-Hudson” (Black Dome Press, $35, 218 pp.), by the scholars William B. Rhoads and Leslie Melvin, is the first in-depth study of this ambitious, long-forgotten venture. Led by Anders H. Andersen, a Danish immigrant, Elverhoj’s residents built themselves ramshackle cottages and offered copper work, silver cutlery, opal-studded jewelry, leather book bindings and textiles, among other products. They ornamented chandeliers with dragons’ heads, molded oak leaves and plump petals on metal teapots and inkwells, and wove portraits of polar bears into tapestries. Ruins of the colony’s buildings can be found in the forests, and among the poignant surviving archival material is Mr. Andersen’s sketch from the 1930s, as bankruptcy loomed, of a trio of creditor trolls wielding daggers. ~Eve M. Kahn, The New York Times