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Eliot Deming Pratt was born into a family


committed to experiential learning, social change and philanthropy. His grandfather, Charles Pratt, was a self-made success who always regretted his limited education. He founded the Pratt Institute in New York City which was dedicated to students learning useful trades and is now known for its’ prestigious art, architecture, engineering and industrial design programs. Eliot Pratt carried on that tradition by his enthusiasm for causes such as civil liberties, a free press, sharecropper’s rights, and much more. His many interests included mechanical invention, ceramics, publishing, farming, and rural life. The latter manifested in his donation of 125 acres of land near his home in New Milford, Connecticut, as the Pratt Outdoor Education Center.


Eliot Pratt’s involvement with Goddard College


began in 1942 when President Pitkin asked him to to join the board of trustees. His prior obligations


Eliot D. Pratt, c. 1950. courtesy of Chris Pratt.


kept him from accepting until 1949, but from then until his death he gave his support generously. He


served as chairman for fifteen of his eighteen years on the board and was named Chairman Emeritus at his retirement. Forest Davis wrote, ‚It is only the bare truth to say that Eliot Deming Pratt<probably saved Goddard between five and fifteen times a year for nearly eighteen years in the 1950s and 1960s<It is an instance of a creative socio-educational thrust being expressed through the medium of philanthropic contributions.‛


The Eliot Pratt Center and Eliot D. Library are named in honor of the man who was central to the


College’s commitment to build a central learning location between Greatwood and Northwood during the Multi-Campus Experiment. This incomplete inventory does not come close to recording the magnate of Eliot Pratt’s contributions, most of which were given anonymously.


In 1968, he retired from the board when disability due to Parkinson’s disease forced him to give up


many of his interests. That year six of his friends and relatives paid tribute via a large donation to the Library-Learning Aids Center Fund. TimPitkin said of him, ‚His belief in the nature of experimental education has been demonstrated over and over by the time, energy, and support he has given to Goddard and other schools<his modesty, his integrity, and his gentleness have been manifested in abundance.‛


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