Suddenly everything changed! On January 15, 1963, a fire swept through the hotel at Allison’s Wells, and destroed the old resort. Mrs. Fontaine lost not only the hotel, but all its vauable contents. Fine antiques were gone. Paintings were lost, both the hotel’s collection and prize-winners from past workshops.
As personally distressing as the tragedy was for Hosford Fontaine, artists of the area were worried about the future of the organization itself. A group of members met soon afterwards, at the Stafford Springs Motor lodge and Dude Ranch, in Heidelberg, to see what could be done–and where–to keep the Art Colony alive. Mr. and Mrs. Johnnie Blanks were wonderfully cooperative, offering a chicken house studio, which was altered for the painters’ use. Translucent panels were placed in the roof for better lighting, and a bathroom (for non-chickens) was added. “The Chicken House” had come into existence.