Wonderwell: The Next 100 Years

Deep gratitude to all of our donors who contributed so generously to the recent Capital Campaign to keep Wonderwell open.
As of June 17, 2017, we have raised 99% of our goal!

You can still contribute to help raise that remaining 1%.

Because of you, we will indeed be able to offer a place of peace and refuge for generations to come.

Thank you.

This September marks Wonderwell Mountain Refuge’s fifth year as a beloved retreat center dedicated to the transmission of the Buddha’s teachings in the West. Never did we dream in September of 2011, that we would, in 2016, envision our beloved center into the next 100 years, as we embrace the exquisite challenge of bringing our historic 1911 retreat center into code compliance of the 21st century.

Mandala Garden with a white buddha in the foregroundThe Challenge

As a hundred-year-old building, Wonderwell’s current challenge is to come into full code compliance for fire and food safety as prescribed by the state of New Hampshire. Once the renovations these codes require are complete, Wonderwell will provide a durable and safe sanctuary for Natural Dharma Fellowship’s community and the greater public for the next hundred years.

The mandatory requirements for compliance entail accomplishing three principal goals:

  1. Adapting rooms to accord with the guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  2. Securing the building with major fire and safety improvements which include the installation of a building-wide sprinkler system, fire walls and doors, and new means of egress from all three floors.
  3. Meeting fire and food safety codes for a commercial kitchen.

View of Wonderwell from the birch groveBeyond a checklist

While reaching these goals constitutes the core of the challenge, responsible stewardship of Wonderwell for the long-term requires extending beyond a checklist. As the stewards of a historic treasure well worth preserving, we hope to include the vision of Wonderwell as a budding home for the Buddha’s teachings in the West as a motivating force for growth and development.
As Wonderwell grows, so too must its capacity, efficiency, and comfort.

As such, the challenge extends beyond complying with state law to include seeking to fulfill the highest standards of ecological responsibility while retaining the historic character of the building, improving the integrity of the space, and expanding capacity for staff and guests

unnamed-7Safer, more comfortable, more inclusive

As a result of this effort, Wonderwell will be safer, more comfortable, and more inclusive than ever, thereby better reflecting the ethical values that Natural Dharma Fellowship aspires to embody every day. With handicapped accessibility, everyone will have the opportunity to retreat with us. With fire and food safety measures in place, the building will better protect and honor life. With increased energy efficiency, Wonderwell will more completely embody care for the planet. With these as our goals, the challenge faced is not daunting: it is exciting.


An excellent teamunnamed-10

As the contours of this challenge came into view, Natural Dharma Fellowship formed a Project Management Committee (PMC), and hired Project Manager, Michael Bruss of Bruss Construction. In partnership with Coldham & Hartman Architects and Milestone Engineering & Construction, and in conversation with the Fire Marshal for the State of New Hampshire, the PMC settled on a multi-year construction plan to gradually bring Wonderwell into compliance with state code, while simultaneously meeting its needs as a retreat center.


Buddhists love to do things in threes

Wonderwell’s building project has likewise organically organized itself into a Three-Phased Plan. This plan mirrors our values of inclusion, safety and community.

Phase 1: Accessibility (Inclusion)

Cost: $966,000
Timeline: Completed!

Due to the generosity of our community, Phase 1 was completed in 2016.

  • Fire safety code compliance
  • Two new egresses
  • Temporary commercial kitchen upgrades
  • Insulation to attic and basement

Phase 2: Fire Safety (Safety)

Cost: $565,000
Timeline: Completed!
Phase 2 of the building project focused on:

  • Full-building sprinkler system
  • Temporary stair tower, restoring third floor usage
  • Upgrades to fire alarm system
  • Parking lot, footpath, lighting

Phase 3: New Kitchen (Community)

Cost: $1,030,000
Timeline: Spring 2018
Phase 3 of the building project will include:

  • Fully code-compliant kitchen
  • Stair tower leading to the third floor
  • First floor accessible suite and bathroom
  • Additional guest room
  • Staff offices and bookstore.

Overview of Project Cost

Current Goal: $1,286,000 (Phases 2 and 3)

Pre-Phase 1 (completed) 246,000
Phase 1 (completed) 720,000
Phase 2 (scheduled for 2017) 565,000
Phase 3 (scheduled for 2018) + 1,030,000
Total for Project 2,561,000
Previously Raised – 1,275,000
To Meet Our Goal $1,286,000

A complete description of what has been accomplished (Phase 1) and what is planned (Phases 2 and 3) can be viewed here.

Kitchen under constructionWinter construction outside


The first quality that a bodhisattva—a compassionate spiritual person—works to perfect is generosity. The practice of generosity (Dāna) not only produces merit, but can actually guide us to perfect peace, wisdom and freedom.

With Dāna as our guide, we enthusiastically enter into this next stage of fundraising and development. We need the help of Wonderwell’s extended network of friends and community. Joining in this practice of generosity is a powerful way of investing in the vision of a more peaceful and compassionate world for future generations.

Here are some ways you can give

  1. Make a one-time donation here.

  2. Make a reoccurring monthly donation.

  3. Make three to five-year pledge.
    Click here to download a donation form
  4. Make a one-time donation by check (helping us avoid PayPal transaction fees on large donations to make every penny count). Make checks out to:Natural Dharma Fellowship
    c/o Phil Malloy
    11 Blueberry Hill Rd.
    Andover, MA 01810
  5. Other kinds of giving including loans. For details, contact Phil Malloy at:

In addition, you can help out by assisting in other ways:

  1. Become a dues-paying member of Natural Dharma Fellowship (membership dues help support Wonderwell’s projects, and give you a discount on solo retreats at Wonderwell). Become a member here.
  2. Join our mailing list. We will send monthly updates on the progress of the renovations. Even if you cannot give, you can help us spread the word.

I share with you that the greatest joy and wonder of my life has been to witness the unfolding of Dharma and flourishing of friendships in this beautiful, sacred setting of our century-old mountain refuge. It is my heartfelt aspiration that Wonderwell will continue to provide space for transmitting the values of love, compassion, and wisdom for a better world. But as deeply as I might aspire, that potential future is not up to me ~ it is up to us. With the sangha’s deeply shared vision and generosity, Wonderwell: The Next 100 Years will become a reality.

Lama Willa Miller