The Founder: Clark Lawrence
Clark Anthony Lawrence is the founder of the association, he was born in Manassas, Virginia and grew up in Paxinos, a rural town in central Pennsylvania. He studied architecture in Philadelphia for one year, and then transferred to College of the Atlantic. In 1989 Lawrence went to Greece to study art history, and spent the next five years between Maine and the Mediterranean, visiting archaeological sites and monuments throughout the region. In the winter of 1991, he conducted an independent study of the Pre-Columbian art of Mesoamerica and in 1992 did an internship at America’s oldest public art museum, the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut. His senior project examined correlations between how the Greeks viewed themselves and how they represented themselves on pottery and in sculptures. These experiences and studies helped to solidify what might have been a squishy, “what do I do now?” liberal arts education.
After graduating from college in June 1992, Lawrence decided to stay in Bar Harbor, Maine another year to inaugurate the college’s new theatre with his production of Euripides’ The Bacchae. In the spring of 1994, Lawrence returned to Europe, and by summer 1995, he had dreamed up a rather vague, commercially impossible venture: Buy a little house on a Greek island, fix it up, and open a kind of bed and breakfast for bibliophiles. In December 1995 Lawrence returned to Italy (this time Bologna) and presented his idea for a reading retreat to the local government of Budrio. Carlo Pagani, a town council member, was interested, and put Lawrence in touch with the owner of an impressive 17th century villa, Palazzo Montefano, that she was willing to rent. Reading Retreats began in December of 1996.
The rest is history.