The colony was founded in 1907 by composer Edward MacDowell, who also helped create the American Academy of Rome. The MacDowell Colony has given hundreds of writers, visual artists, musicians, and others free space to work, including composers Aaron Copland, Virgil Thomson, and Leonard Bernstein.
According to the colony, Copland worked on Appalachian Spring, Thomson worked on the opera Mother of Us All, and Bernstein finished Mass there.
The members of Peterborough's board of selectmen recently determined that the colony's mission does not "advance the...well-being of the general public," the definition of a charity under New Hampshire law.
"From what we understand, their primary purpose is nurturing artists of the highest merit," Peterborough town lawyer Bob Derosier told the AP. "That doesn't strike us as being the general public."
According to the news agency, the town initially asked the colony for $17,000 to pay for town services. When the colony refused, the town boosted the request to $50,000 and took the organization to court.