Housing at Heathcote

Heathcote Center is in a secluded forest-environment with on-grid full utilities and wood stove or pellet stove heating. Radiators can provide back-up heating when residents are not present. Heathcote promotes creating a supportive, family-friendly and enjoyable residential community, as well as an accessible public space for visitors and participants. The land features a small public farm of about 1-acre producing bio/organic food and flowers. The center has are two high tunnel greenhouses, a lined catch-basin that stores rainwater for irrigation, and a number of out-buildings and small shop spaces. There’s plenty of resident parking. Heathcote Road is snow-plowed in the winter.

There are three residential buildings at Heathcote Center. Polaris is a multi-residence with apartment flats, usually housing families. The FarmHouse is an A-frame residential house with separate rooms in a common house. The Heathcote Mill is a restored mill building with a residential quarter. It contains bunk housing for overnight event groups, as well as a dormatory style apartment section. The mill’s zoning is mixed, for residential occupancy in a separate wing from the public conference building. Residential houses have a shared kitchen and living room space, and mill residents use the public kitchen, which they have private use of when there are no groups present.

Typically, individual adults or couples have their own bedrooms in the FarmHouse and Mill. Families occupy a private apartment in Polaris or several bedrooms in a shared house. Like all buildings and improvements on Heathcote’s 44-acres, School of Living owns the land under these buildings. Heathcote owns the Mill and FarmHouse built on the property but not the land itself, which is under SOL’s 99-year lease. Polaris is owned by community members, though the land still belongs to SOL.

Heathcote is approximately a 25-minute drive to York, PA and a 45-minute drive from downtown Baltimore. See directions for further details.


Space is currently available in some units.

Heathcote encourages applications from those with skills in a variety of trades and professions. The community and the center does not discriminate based on age, gender, race, sexual orientation, or disability status; However, those with physical challenges are encouraged to inform us of limitations and talk with us about reasonable accommodations.


Polaris: the Strawbale House

There are currently an apartment and a bedroom available in Polaris.

Designed by architect, Sigi Koko, and constructed by natural building interns, workshop participants, community member labor (significantly Charles, Michael, Christopher, Dominic, Peggy, Thia, Bob, John, Karen, Greg, and Juji), and with much outside assistance, Polaris is the center’s most recent addition. First residents moved in in 2008, and it remains a pleasant, healthy, and well-maintained primary residence unit.


Special Features of Polaris:

  • Passive solar – south facing orientation with lots of glass on the south side to capture the energy and light of the sun
  • Strawbales from farms in the mid-Atlantic region as insulation for the walls yielding around an R-40 insulation value
  • Structural insulated panels (10 inches of Styrofoam) for the roof – petroleum based, but high insulation value saving lots of energy over the lifetime of the building; also do not require trusses so all space under the roof can be efficiently utilized
  • Masonry stove heater – highly efficient wood burning stove, burned once or twice a day, which holds the heat and slowly releases it throughout the day
  • Earthen plaster walls – interior side of the exterior walls – 2 inches of a mixture of sand and high clay content soil excavated from the site on top of the strawbales; provides thermal mass to store and slowly release heat captured from the sun and masonry stove
  • Lime plaster walls – exterior side of the exterior walls – 2 inches of of a mixture of lime putty and sand providing thermal mass; covered with a natural lime wash
  • Rubble trench foundation – using crushed stone and requiring significantly less concrete
  • Flooring – Homasote subfloors – a recycled newspaper product instead of plywood, some marmoleum – a natural linoleum made of linseed oil instead of petroleum, bamboo – a fast growing, readily renewable plant
  • Eco friendly paints and stains – on second and third floors some interior walls were finished with a natural milk paint made by Juji (using skim milk, lemon juice, lime putty, and natural pigments); other finishes were purchased for their low VOC/natural/non-toxic qualities
  • Tankless/On-demand water heaters – heat hot water instantly without storing hot water and keeping it hot 24 hours a day
  • HC craftsmanship – The first floor entry door and the second floor round window were made by HC member Bob.  A number of other details were made by others.



The Heathcote Mill building

There is currently two bedrooms available in the mill’s three-bedroom residential wing for short-term and long-term stays.

Heathcote mill picture
Heathcote’s historic 19th century mill building

The Heathcote mill was built in the 1842. It was converted into a mixed-use residential/ public building in the late 1960s. It has a large public-accessible kitchen, 2 public bathrooms with showers, and an additional public handicapped accessible half-bathroom slatted for construction in 2023. A handicapped ramp will also be installed, alongside improve out-door building lighting. The entire residential space is 740 sq. ft, including a residential bathroom and common area with a wood stove.



The FarmHouse

There are currently no rooms available in the FarmHouse.

Sited in a forested-space near the creek and riparian buffer, this 100 year-old A-Frame was purchased by Heathcote in 1997 and added to the School of Living land trust. It has 5 bedrooms, a living room, a dining room, a full kitchen, and upstairs it has a full-bathroom.


If you have questions about housing, let us know: