Pat Swierstra

Courtesy of Western Regional Archives


Art/ Design/ Craft


Student, Staff


1948 - 1949



Piet Swierstra came to the United States in 1946 from Leeuwarden in the Netherlands to visit her siblings who already had emigrated. In the Netherlands she had been a close friend of Trude Guermonprez (Elsesser), and in the fall of 1948, Guermonprez encouraged her to come to Black Mountain College as dietician.

Swierstra was dietician from the fall of 1948 through the summer of 1949. She also took classes including dance with Elizabeth “Betty” Jennerjahn and music with Charlotte “Bimbus” Schlensinger. She helped Guermonprez set up looms and maintain the weaving room. In the summer of 1949, she provided Buckminster Fuller with ample coffee and was the only person willing to spend a night on a platform suspended from the dome.

When Swierstra left Black Mountain, she worked as dietician at Pond Farm in Guerneville, California, where Guermonprez was teaching. She then took care of the Dreier family including young Eddie and Barbara Beate in Schenectady, New York, when Barbara Dreier was recovering from hip surgery which required several months’ recuperation in a full body cast.

On her return to Leeuwarden, she married a cousin who worked in the agricultural industry. She was homemaker for the family including her son and daughter. She was active in the AWCC (Association for Women and Children Concerns and community organizations in the Netherlands.

Photograph of author


Mary Emma Harris

Mary Harris has long been regarded as one of the most prominent scholars on Black Mountain College. Her book, "The Arts at Black Mountain College" (1987), is one of the most influential publications on the history of BMC.

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