Durward’s Glen reflects the romantic idealism of the mid-nineteenth century when many Americans looked to nature for spiritual and aesthetic inspiration. Its creator, Bernard Isaac Durward, was a poet and portrait painter. He had recently converted to Catholicism when, in 1862, he chose this picturesque glen with its meandering stream as the location for his studio. He and his family lived here as artistic monks, referring to themselves by such names as “Poet Father” and “Artistic Brother.”
The complex at Durward’s Glen was constructed incrementally over two decades in the Gothic Revival and Italianate manner, the favored styles of the picturesque movement in rural America. Durward first erected a cottage beside a stream in 1866 (destroyed by fire in 1951), then a chapel named St. Mary’s of the Pines. Standing on a hill above the glen, the simple Gothic Revival building of rough-cut local stone features a round window above the altar, two lancet windows, and a pointed-arch entrance. The Madison Council of the Knights of Columbus installed the present interior and roof after fire gutted the chapel in 1923. Durward’s son Charles painted the Madonna above the altar.
A few years after the chapel was built, Charles erected a small board-and-batten studio and cottage for himself southwest of the pond (now adjacent to a parking lot). Paired arched windows, surmounted by a circular window, pierce each of the side-gabled elevations to evoke the Gothic, as do entrances, the steeply pitched roof, and the quatrefoils on the gables. The full-length porch, however, is atypical, and the rear addition is relatively new. In 1887, a second son, John, constructed a two-story stone studio for his father. Though this building, too, has paired arched windows crowned with a round light, this time the style is less evocative of a medieval hermitage, having a low-pitched hipped roof, wide roof overhang, and arched windows crowned by prominent lintels.
In the early 1930s, the Order of Saint Camillus, dedicated to the care of the sick, acquired the property and established a novitiate. Their building—a Rustic resort-style log structure—was built in 1934. Today, Durward’s Glen houses a retreat for holistic healing.