Josef Breitenbach, Molly Gregory woodworking class, n.d. Archival pigment print from a digital scan. Western Regional Archives, Black Mountain College Research Project Collection.
Molly Gregory (Apprentice Teacher 1940-1941, Faculty in Woodworking 1941-Summer 1947) (b.1914-d.2006)
Mary Gregory, known commonly as Molly, was raised on a farm in Framingham, Massachusetts. In 1932, she began studies at Bennington College where she majored in sculpture, and in 1936 she was a member of the first graduating class. She came to Black Mountain College in 1940 as an Apprentice Teacher, hoping to learn foundational skills from Josef Albers, which she could then apply to her practice in woodworking. She quickly proved herself indispensable, particularly during the war years when she led the work program and oversaw those aspects of campus life crucial to its survival. She took over the woodworking shop begun by Robert Bliss and oversaw the completion of the Studies Building. Nearly all of the furnishings and designs for the student studies, dormitories, and academic and agricultural buildings were created in the woodworking shop with instruction by Gregory.
As a Quaker Friend, Gregory’s influence can perhaps be found most readily in The Quiet House, a building designed and built with student Alex Reed in memory of Mark Dreier, the young son of BMC founders Ted and Bobbie Dreier, who died in a vehicle accident on campus. The benches of The Quiet House resonate with the Quaker influence and invite contemplation. Gregory left BMC in 1947, establishing her own woodworking business first in Lexington and then in Lincoln, MA. The workshop did custom work for interiors, and designed and built furniture. During this time, Gregory continued her work as a home designer, builder, and renovator. She taught woodworking and carving at the Concord Academy, the Belmont Day School, and Shady Hill School.