Dard Hunter's "Mountain House"
The Mountain House was built in the early 1850s as a winery. Artist Dard Hunter, born in Ohio in 1883, bought the property in 1919 and renovated it to meet his needs for a home and printing studio. Dard was a part of the Arts and Crafts movement of the early twentieth century that promoted traditional craft making. After working for the Roycrofters and studying in Vienna, Dard moved to London where he learned about the old ways of papermaking. He then returned to the United States, constructed a paper mill, and produced the first book made entirely by the hand of one man in 1916. Dard continued his work, such as printing twenty books on the history of paper, here in Chillicothe until his death in 1966.
Backstory and Context
William Joseph “Dard” Hunter was born in Steubenville, Ohio in 1883 to newspaper owner and woodcarver William Henry Hunter and his wife. Dard’s father imparted an interest in the crafts and in printing upon his son. In 1900, when the family moved to Chillicothe, the elder Hunter hired Dard to work as the staff artist at his newspaper. Three years later, Dard traveled to Riverside, California where he was inspired by the Mission Style. In July of 1904, a month after being refused employment, Dard simply showed up to artist Elbert Hubbard’s colony. His initiative led to a job with the Roycrofters and Hubbard. He designed stained glass for windows for the Roycroft Inn and title pages for Hubbard's press. Around this same time, Dard developed an interest in Viennese fashion.
A few years later, in 1908, Dard married Roycroft pianist Edith Cornell, and they spent their honeymoon in scenic Vienna. His career was steadily successful as well. His designs for everything from books to glass helped unify the Roycroft product line and give it its own distinct look. He also experimented with pottery, furniture, and jewelry and released the brochure Things You Can Make about jewelry-related crafts. In 1910, Dard left the Roycrofters and returned to Vienna where he took classes in lithography, book decoration, and letter design. Afterward, he moved to London to design books and advertisements for Norfolk Studios.
In the spring of 1911, Dard wandered into the London Science Museum where his life would change forever. He saw an exhibit about the old art of papermaking. Soon after, he was challenged to make paper by hand in the U.S., something that was not common practice there. By 1913, he had built a paper mill in the 17th-century style, completed with a water wheel to supply power. His papermaking venture became so successful, he had trouble keeping up with orders. During the winter, when there wasn’t enough water to turn the wheel, Dard worked on a font of type that was reminiscent of early typefaces. While working at the Marlborough Mill (as it was called), Dard produced the world’s first one-man book, for which he created the paper, typeface, and content and printed himself.
Dard moved his family back to Chillicothe in 1919. They purchased a home built in the early 1850s that is now known as the Mountain House. The structure had originally been built for German winemakers, but Dard transformed it to meet his printing needs. Dard lived in the house until his death at age 82 in 1966. The home is now the center for Dard Hunter Studios, described by its owners as “a business venture dedicated to raising the awareness of the contributions made by Dard Hunter throughout his lifetime.” Their goal is to preserve the Mountain House and turn it into a museum.
The Life of Dard Hunter. Dard Hunter. Accessed July 23, 2018. http://www.dardhunter.com/About.htm. Information and photo source.