Heartwood School

About the Heartwood School


In December 2019, the Timber Framers Guild purchased the Heartwood School (established in 1978) from Will and Michele Beemer. Through their many long years of stewardship, the Beemers created an institution in the timber framing community. Dedicated to craft and to excellence in teaching the building arts, they brought their skill, intelligence, generosity of spirit, and a commitment to improving the quality of the built environment and people's lives, sharing it with Heartwood students young and old, men and women, from all walks of life. 

Over four decades, Heartwood has taught thousands of students about timber framing and other building arts, leaving an indelible mark not only on the students but on timber framing as well. Over the same years, the Beemers have played a seminal role in the establishment and success of the Timber Framers Guild and the revival of timber framing in North America, thereby touching the lives of thousands of people in our extended community. 

The Guild has been entrusted by the Beemers with the continuation of their life's work and legacy. The Guild is committed to robust, student-centered education and training in the inspiring, forested environment of the Heartwood School - a personality in its own right. Will continues to teach courses, along with interim educational director Neil Godden and instructors Dave Carlon, Brad Morse, Jack Sobon, and more. 

Heartwood's programs continue to be designed to be useful for the experienced builders who wish to expand their skills and deepen their understanding and design and construction as well as those just starting in their pursuit of these skills. Heartwood's appeal to teachers, truck drivers, architects, social workers, retirees, realtors, high school students, and others - many of whom have had little or no previous construction experience - will not change.

Our students and instructors share a common goal of connecting minds, eyes, and hands in seamless harmony to craft beautiful objects, large and small, with which to enrich their lives and communities. This commitment to becoming an active creator in the environment expresses care for the life that will happen within it, and is the same spirit referred to by poet Gary Snyder when he advised in his book Turtle Island, "find your place on the planet and dig in."

Heartwood continues to be the place for people to gather and discover the tools to do just that. 

Our School

The Heartwood Schoolhouse is located in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts. Built by the staff and students in 1978-79, the building houses our office, spacious classroom, greenhouse, well-equipped woodworking shop, library with over a thousand books and videos on building, and dining area where we serve delicious and bounteous home-cooked lunches.

The surrounding Berkshires provide an ideal environment for a learning vacation. Cultural and recreational activities abound. Nearby is Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony, Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, the Stockbridge Playhouse, Hancock Shaker Village, the Norman Rockwell Museum, the legendary Dreamaway Lodge, the Appalachian Trail, picturesque New England villages, lakes and streams, and miles of forests to explore. Our Schoolhouse is located on a beautifully wooded yet sunny hillside, providing relaxing and spacious surroundings for your Heartwood activities.

Our Instructors

Our instructors are contractors and tradespeople who take the time to share and communicate their love of their craft. They are people who are not only skilled at their trades but also good teachers, and we are lucky to have them.

Heartwood Director Mack Magee also serves as executive director of the Timber Framers Guild, and coordinates Heartwood's curriculum and projects in a way that complements the Guild's educational mission. Mack also manages the Guild's extraordinary slate of Community Building Workshops across North America, and not only discovers new, talented instructors through those workshops but also helps Heartwood students further their goals by helping them "plug in" to the Guild workshops. 

Heartwood Director Emeritus Will Beemer continues to teach courses and has been designing and building houses for over 40 years. He was a construction foreman at the Arcosanti project in Arizona, design instructor at Cornell, and served as co-Executive Director of the Timber Framers Guild for eleven years. He has organized and taught building workshops around the world, including timber framing courses at Palomar College in San Diego, North House Folk School, and Colorado State University's Mountain Campus. Will has presented seminars on roof framing and timber framing at "JLCLive," the annual conference sponsored by the Journal of Light Construction. He has written for Fine Homebuilding, Joiner’s Quarterly, Wood Design & Building, and Timber Framing. He is a major contributor to the best-selling Timber Framing Fundamentals and his latest book, Learn to Timber Frame, was published in 2016 through Storey Publishing. 

Dave Carlon, Dave Bowman, Neil Godden, and Jack Sobon, who teach much of the timber framing curriculum, have long been partners in creating many unique timber structures. Jack is an architect and author of Timber Frame Construction, Historic American Timber Joinery, Build a Classic Timber Framed House, and more, including his newest book Hand Hewn: The Traditions, Tools, and Enduring Beauty of Timber Framing. Other visiting instructors include some of the most experienced members of the Timber Framers Guild, including Brad Morse and Josh Jackson.

Mike Beganyi, who teaches our SketchUp courses, has wandered through the design, woodworking, and timber framing world for the past 17 years. He has played sculptor, carpenter, architecture student, instructor, barn restorer, timber framer, designer, project manager, and mover of heavy objects. He currently lives and works in Switzerland pushing pixels as an independent designer, and is a design consultant for New Energy Works.

Grigg Mullen, Jr., our Raising & Rigging instructor, hails from Virginia, where he taught engineering at the Virginia Military Institute. He has led numerous raisings for the Timber Framers Guild around the world where he has devised strategies for raising objects as diverse as trebuchets, obelisks, and wooden cranes. 

Mike Paulsen and Greg Bossie from Stone Soup Concrete teach the Concrete Countertops course. Jon Santiago of Hearth+Timber teaches our Earthen Bake Oven course and builds ovens and masonry heaters around the world, including in Patagonia, Argentina. He was a 2013 Heartwood timber framing apprentice.

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