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In Search of Clarence - Part 1

NOVEMBER 5, 2009
Clarence's House
   A few years ago when I was getting one of my old clunkers fixed at the Bearsville garage I saw a photo on the wall. I had never noticed it before. It was of a crazy house with tons of windows. I had to ask - it struck a chord in me…  like discovering something special that had been lost. I was told it was Clarence Schmidt’s house. A local artist. It had over a hundred rooms. I was in awe. I searched online and found very little. Visiting a friend I noticed a burnt baby doll head in his garden and commented how it looked like it belonged in Clarence’s house. He told me that was where it came from. The place had burned down and was now gone. But hiking around he’d found lot’s of relics left on the mountainside. I ran into another friend and one thing led to another and it turns out he has one of the only copies of a book about Clarence Schmidt.
I got to borrow it!

"Journey's End"
Clarence Schmidt was an "outsider" artist living and working on Ohayo mountain in Woodstock, New York.
Clarence came to Woodstock in 1928 at the age of 31. By 1967, Schmidt had erected a seven-story, multi-roomed architectural complex that encompassed a large tree as its central feature.The interior was an environmental labyrinth. The original cabin completely enclosed and transformed was Clarence's principal living space. He called it his "Inner Sanctum".
Clarence Schmidt
In January 1968 it burned down creating an aurora borealis that could be seen for miles and miles. It burned for days and days. Clarence moved downhill and began working on a new structure, three rooms built on a platform on top of a station wagon. On top was a viewing deck. In 1971 it caught fire and Schmidt barely got out alive. After that Clarence moved off the mountain. Homeless, he was sent, through town agency to an institution in Kingston, NY. where he died.

Here are some photos that David Johnson took when he lived with Clarence 1970-71'.