Wonderwell: The Next Hundred Years

Help us Raise 2.5 Million Dollars for Needed Renovations


Architecture view of Wonderwell from the back lawn

 Visit our benefit auction page here, and our auction information page here.

Vision and Background

September 2015 marked Wonderwell Mountain Refuge’s fourth year as a Buddhist retreat center dedicated to the transmission of the Budddhadharma to the West.

Founded on values of environmental sustainability and gender equality, Wonderwell is unusual in the world of Tibetan Buddhist centers. While we support authentic lineage transmission and the cultivation of meditation in deep retreat, we remain committed to a non-sectarian perspective, hosting programs and teachers trained in varied traditions.

Wonderwell also offers programs exploring the intersection of meditation practice with daily life and work. This is reflected in our ongoing support of meditation retreats for writers, educators, artists, caregivers, activists, couples and families.

At present, Wonderwell hosts

  • Silent group retreats to deepen in meditation practice
  • Lineage retreats that transmit ancient wisdom for modern times
  • Meditation retreats for activists, educators, caregivers, artists, writers, couples and families
  • Gatherings dedicated to exploring the intersection of dharma with ecological sustainability
  • Wilderness retreats that connect participants to the natural world as inspiration for the cultivation of inner peace
  • Yoga and mindful movement retreats
  • Events and teachings for the local community
  • and more

An affiliate of Natural Dharma Fellowship, Wonderwell is a non-profit 501C3 organization.

Environment and History

Named for the fertile well that produced water even during times of severe drought, Wonderwell Mountain Refuge is located on 25 acres on a quiet country road, flanked by large farms, nestled in the lovely Lake Sunapee Region, a two hour drive from Boston.

2014-05-29 16.08.12The main house was built in 1911 by the Stoddard Family of Washington DC, and was originally used as a musician’s summer retreat by Mrs. Stoddard, a pianist with the Washington DC Philharmonic Orchestra.

The house sits high on a hillside with sweeping views of sky and mountains. Its lodge-like main hall, with solid oak beams, fieldstone fireplaces, balcony and expansive view of Croyden Mountain is a central historic feature of the building. This room currently serves as Wonderwell’s Meditation Hall, where groups of up to 150 people can gather.

Other features of this historic building include a large covered porch for outdoor practice, a kitchen with industrial appliances, dining facilities, 13 bathrooms, and 15 bedrooms of varying capacities sleeping up to 36 people.

Renovating Wonderwell for the Next 100 Years

Stewarding Wonderwell Mountain Refuge for the last four years has been a great privilege. But, with that privilege comes a responsibility to the community we serve.

In order to meet NH state food, fire, and life safety regulations, Wonderwell must be brought into full food and fire safety code compliance. To ensure that this process take place in a timely manner, a Project Management Team (made up of professionals, staff and skilled volunteers) our Project Manager, Mike Bruss, and the team of architects at Coldham&Hartman, have been working tirelessly over the last six months to development and implement the changes we need to make.

barnIn addition to safety compliance, we are acting to fulfill Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires wheelchair accessibility, ADA bathrooms and beds. In keeping with our commitment to environmental sustainability, we are committing to making these changes in a way that substantially improves the energy use in the building.

The specific changes we will make include:

  • Constructing a kitchen addition that meets commercial kitchen food and fire safety standards
  • Building an enclosed stairwell from the third floor, accessible from the second and first floors, for safe egress in case of fire
  • Creating wheelchair-accessible entrances
  • Creating a wheelchair-accessible bedroom and bathroom on the ground floor
  • Installing an updated alarm system and sprinkler system
  • Building a designated parking area capable of handling our current retreat capacity

The most dramatic and visual result of these changes will be a 1200 square foot addition to the existing building that will house a new commercial kitchen and a safe fire egress from the third floor, as well as additional staff housing, and perhaps—if we are able to raise enough funding—some new single guest rooms.

Scope of the Project

To make these changes while preserving the historic character of Wonderwell’s unique building and staying true to our goals of energy efficiency requires funding. The assembled Project Management Team, in consultation with the Board of Directors and leadership of Natural Dharma Fellowship, have learned that our fundraising goal is 2.5 million dollars.

We are confident that given enough time, this is an achievable goal. In our initial fundraising campaign over the past six months, we raised over a million dollars. The generosity of many people has allowed us to begin a phased construction plan whereby we will implement those changes most necessary to keep Wonderwell operational over a span of 1-3 years while we continue to fundraise. The first phase of this construction officially began March 14, 2016. Wonderwell will reopen its first and second floors on May 1 and remain open through January 2017, when we will again close temporarily to implement the next phase of construction.

bedroomDue to the growing number of people who love Wonderwell and appreciate the gift it brings to the world, we feel certain that our mission to embody and environmentally sustainable and humanistic dharma is one shared by many outside of our immediate community.

Help Keep Wonderwell Alive

Wonderwell Mountain Refuge is a product of loving kindness and collective vision. It does not have one large donor at its back, but came into being through the generosity of many hearts, minds and hands working together. While the challenges ahead are considerable, we are excited. These improvements to Wonderwell’s building embody our values as a community. The building will be safer, more accessible, more energy-efficient, more comfortable and more beautiful than ever.

Please donate and help to bring Wonderwell into the 21st Century so that it can continue to offer a place of peace and refuge for generations to come.

Here are some ways you can give:

  1. Make a one-time donation here.
  2. Make a re-occuring monthly donation.
  3. Extend a loan. Contact Phil Malloy at philmalloy.55@gmail.com for details
  4. Bid in our NDF 2016 Online Auction. More information can be found on our Wonderwell Benefit Silent Auction page.
  5. You can help 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

In addition, you can help out by 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 updates monthly on the progress of the renovations. Even if you cannot give, you can help us spread the word.
  3. Keep your eye on the schedule for upcoming Wonderwell Benefit Events. We will have hosting some events to raise money for the Wonderwell: The Next Hundred Years.
  4. Participate in our online benefit auction here. For more information about the auction you can visit our auction information page here.

Won’t you join us in supporting Wonderwell’s mission to help the flourishing of an egalitarian, ecologically conscious and engaged spirituality in the West?

View from back right lawn