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October 2010

Don't Miss "The Initiated Eye"! Closing January 9, 2011

2007_057_1a-cDI1 Doric column The Museum’s exhibition, "The Initiated Eye: Secrets, Symbols, Freemasonry, and the Architecture of Washington, D.C.," will be coming to a close on January 9, 2011.  We hope you will make plans now to fit in a visit before it is gone.

"The Initiated Eye" presents 21 paintings by artist Peter Waddell, based on the architecture of Washington, D.C., and the role that our founding fathers and prominent citizens--many of whom were Freemasons--played in establishing the city.  The depictions of historical events, activities, and ceremonies carefully explain and demystify Freemasonry for the public.

Approximately 40 objects from the National Heritage Museum collection enrich the exhibition.  One of these objects is a recently acquired Doric column pedestal that was previously used in a lodge in Keene, New Hampshire.  Part of a set of three (the other two show the Ionic and Corinthian styles), the pedestal was probably made in Boston around 1890.

In the exhibition, the pedestal is shown in connection with the painting, Centerpiece of the New Republic (seen at right), which depicts the crypt underneath the U.S. Capitol.  The crypt is located at the dividing point of Washington, D.C.’s quadrants and was built to hold the body of George Washington (1732-1799).  The founding fathers also envisioned an even greater role for the structure.  Inset in the middle of the crypt floor is a brass compass rose, the location for the New Republic’s prime meridian, to replace the one in Greenwich, England.  Planners envisioned that all distances would be measured from this point and that all boundaries for future states would be surveyed from it.  Delicate elliptical vaults transfer the weight of the Capitol’s rotunda onto unfluted Doric columns.07

The paintings in the exhibition were commissioned by, and are the property of, the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Washington, D.C., with all rights reserved.  This exhibition is supported by the Scottish Rite Masons of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, U.S.A.

Doric column pedestal, ca. 1890, American, National Heritage Museum collection, Museum purchase, 2007.057.1a-c. 

Centerpiece of the New Republic, 2005, Peter Waddell, Washington, D.C., Courtesy of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Washington, D.C.


The Talented Charles Buckles Falls

76_59_2DI1 Falls painting For many years, I have wanted to know more about a group of graphically charged and boldly colored paintings in the museum’s collection by the artist Charles Buckles Falls (1874-1960). In making selections for “Curators' Choice: Favorites from the Collection,” I had the perfect opportunity to explore them further.

The talented Falls illustrated books and designed posters, advertisements, invitations, book bindings, stage sets, fabric and furniture in a career that spanned from the late 1890s through 1960. He produced some of his best-known work for the Division of Pictorial Publicity during World War I. You can see several examples here. Falls executed much of his work for paying clients, including Masonic publications such as The Shrine Magazine and The New York Masonic Outlook. In 1927 editors at The New York Masonic Outlook described Falls as “one of the distinguished artists of the day.”

Based on the topic, size, style and information from the donor, we believe Falls made nine paintings in76_59_10DP1 Falls Feb 1927   the museum’s collection (7 oils and 2 watercolors) for The Shrine Magazine. At least five of the paintings eventually graced the cover of the publication, all in 1927. This February cover and Falls’ related painting offer an opportunity to compare the artist’s original artwork against the magazine that arrived in subscribers’ mailboxes.

Editors shaped “The Shrine Magazine,” published from May 1926 to December 1928, to appeal to not only to male Shrine members, but also to their families with attractive covers, short fiction, a women’s department and general interest articles. To capture readers' attention, editors hired several popular illustrators, such as Falls, to create artistic covers for the magazine. Their cover art did not often relate to stories or articles in the magazine, nor were these artists necessarily associated with Freemasonry. Falls, for example, does not appear to have been a member.

Commercial artwork is ephemeral--sold to a client, who may use it as he likes, for a fee. The end product, a magazine or advertisement, might be read once and then thrown away. However, in this case, as suggested by information from the donor, Falls’ wife, Bedelia, preserved these examples of her husband's work.  Eventually, they came to the museum for visitors to enjoy.

If you have any questions or information about Falls and his association with “The Shrine Magazine,” please get in touch or leave a comment, we'd love to hear from you. 

Photo credits:

Rider on a White Horse, ca. 1927. Charles Buckles Falls (1874-1960). New York, New York. Gift of Dorothy H. Trower, in memory of Ralph E. Trower, 76.59.2.

Cover, The Shrine Magazine, February 1927. Charles Buckles Falls (1874-1960). New York, New York. Gift of Dorothy H. Trower, in memory of Ralph E. Trower, 76.59.10.  Photograph by David Bohl.

References:

Wayne G. Hammond, The Graphic Art of C. B. Falls: An Introduction, Chapin Library, Williams College, 1982.

Norman Kent, “C. B. Falls, 1874- 1960: A Career in Retrospect,” American Artist, Februrary, 1962.

Thanks to Wayne Hammond, Assistant Librarian, Chapin Library, Williams College and Thomas M. Savini, Director, Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library of Grand Lodge for their help in providing information about C. B. Falls to the museum.


All Around the United States: A Traveling Book of Autographs

A2010_41_1a_DI_from_existing_photographIn 1914, in order to promote the fraternity's patriotic goals, the East End Council No. 101, Jr. Order of United American Mechanics, Brooklyn, New York, conceived of circulating an album around the United States to collect autographs of the president and the governors of all the states. 

The Junior Order of United American Mechanics is a fraternal organization, which was founded in 1853 in Philadelphia. The major objectives of the order are stated in their bylaws of 1959.  These are:

  •  "To maintain and promote the interest of Americans and shield them from the depressing effects of unrestricted immigration, to assist them in obtaining employments, and to encourage them in business."
  •  "To provide for the creation of a fund or funds for the payment of donations incase of Sickness, Disability or Death of its members, to members, their legal dependents or representatives."
  •  "To uphold the American Public School System, prevent interference therewith, and to encourage the reading of the Holy Bible in the Schools thereof."
  • "To promote and maintain a National Orphans Home."

In 1900, there were over 200,000 members. However, by the 1960s and 1970s its popularity had declined to about 8,500 members. It still exists today with its national headquarters in Knoxville, Tennessee.

The story of the journey of this book is particularly American one.  The first person to sign the album was President Woodrow Wilson on June 15, 1915 (as seen in photograph above).  After leaving Wilson's hands, the leather album was sent to each state's governor, who was asked via correspondence by the album's author and editor, Joseph Wright Wootton (b. 1870), to sign his designated page.  The album was sent to states in the order in which they were admitted to the union.  Because of this, the album began its journey in Delaware in 1915 and ended in Arizona in 1916 and was then sent back to Brooklyn, New York.   

During the album's journey around the United States, a committee of the Junior Order of United American Mechanics decided to circulate an American flag with the album.  The wife of each governor was asked to sew on one star onto the blue square of the flag and send Wootton her calling card, signed with her name.  Before the book was circulated to collect all of the autographs, artist, Albert Heinmuller (b. 1862), made watercolor drawings of each state seal and decorated each title page with gold letters. Both Wootton and Heinmuller lived in Brooklyn, New York and were members of the East End Council No. 101, Jr. Order of United American Mechanics.

The traveling album had several mishaps during its journey. The album and flag were lost several times. Often the governor of a state kept the album longer than was intended, but, by way of showing how the book struck a chord, some governors showed the album off at various state events.  When the album was sent to the Governor of Massachusetts, Samuel Walker McCall, in 1916, he mistook it for a bomb and almost destroyed it!  The last person to sign the album was President Warren G. Harding on May 11, 1921, quite a while after its journey around the United States.

Both the album of autographs and the flag were carefully kept by the East End Council, No. 101 (which merged with Franklin Council No. 16). In  2010, the album of autographs, the flag, and associated correspondence were donated to the National Heritage Museum.

Image:

Autograph Album, Joseph Wright Wootton and Albert Heinmuller, 1915-1916.  Gift of Dr. & Mrs. John F. Ladik, Mr & Mrs. John d'Agostino, Alfred Thomson, Mr. & Mrs. Ronald Thomson, Jr., A2010/41/1.


Is the wind blowing from the East?

2010_004DP1 The National Heritage Museum is excited to share its recent acquisition of a Masonic weathervane, pictured here.  Purchased at auction earlier this year, the weathervane unfortunately does not have a detailed history.  But we love the flower that extends at the top, as well as the heart-shaped decorations at the corners.  The vane has a prominent square and compasses symbol on its body, leaving us to wonder if it originally adorned a lodge building or the private home of a lodge member.79_13T1

This weathervane takes its place in our collection alongside three other Masonic ones – each distinctly different.  Two of these objects are also pictured here.  The one at right has a sunburst, or glory rays, encircling the letter G, which stands for God or Geometry (or both) in Freemasonry.  This weathervane probably dates to the early 1900s and may have originally been used on Maryland’s Eastern Shore; the Museum acquired it in 1979.

The third weathervane seen here may have been the base for a larger piece, since it would not turn in the wind as is.  The well-known Masonic square and compasses symbol gives it a shape.  We only wish we knew what the “MT” on the end of the arrow stood for.

2001_016T1 Do you have a Masonic weathervane?  We would love to hear about it in a comment below.

Masonic weathervane, 1900-1940, American, National Heritage Museum collection, Museum purchase through the generosity of Helen G. Deffenbaugh in memory of George S. Deffenbaugh, 2010.004.  Photograph by David Bohl.

Masonic weathervane, 1900-1910, American, National Heritage Museum collection, Special Acquisitions Fund, 79.13.  Photograph by David Bohl.

Masonic weathervane, 1900-1940, American, National Heritage Museum collection, Museum purchase, 2001.016.  Photograph by David Bohl.


Henry Karunach’s Painting

Native American drawing, 79_51_7DS1 I have long been intrigued by this little painting (only 8 inches by 6 inches) of a Plains Indian artifact.   We know the name of the artist, Henry Karunach (d. 1888), because he signed his work.  He would be a mystery to us if we did not have two accompanyng photographs.  They both tell us more about Karunach and provide context about his life.  This painting is one of the staff picks featured in "Curators' Choice:  Favorites from the Collection."

Karunach, a member of the Arickara tribe from Fort Berthold, North Dakota, was among the first Native American students who studied at the Hampton Institute (now Hampton University), in Virginia.  Founders established the school in 1868 with the goal of educating recently freed African Americans.  A decade later, the school began teaching young Native American men and women  in trades, English language and other subjects with the now-dubiously regarded goal of “civilizing” them. From 1878 to 1923, over 1,300 Native American students attended the Hampton Institute. 79_51_5 Indian Boys 1878  

Hampton Institute administrators commissioned portraits of students when they arrived at the school and again several months later.  The school used these images to illustrate how students’ studies and experiences at the school changed them.  Administrators employed the photographs in seeking political support and funding for their work.  In the first photo shown here, taken in 1878, Karunach, wearing a long shirt (far right), stands in the back row of a group of ten students.  Fifteen months later, the photographer captured him and seven other students with whom Karunach had entered school.  In this image, they are wearing suits, ties and short haircuts. 

At the Institute, Karunach, whose name meant “Sioux Boy,” honed his English skills and learned how to make shoes.  He also created this colorful painting of an object, perhaps a garment, decorated with feathers, fringe and bright colors.  On the back of it, someone noted, “The work of an Indian at 79_51_6 Indian Boys from the Dakota Territory 1880-1881 Hampton School.”  The caption on the later of the two photos says Karunach was “doing well” working as a shoemaker at Fort Berthold in North Dakota.  I hope that description matched Karunach’s own assessment of his work and life after school.  He died in 1888, ten years after he started school at the Hampton Institute.










Credits:

Painting, 1878-1884. Henry Karunach (d. 1888), Hampton, Virginia. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. George D. Payne, 79.51.7

“Group of Indian Boys,” 1878. Hampton, Virginia. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. George D. Payne, 79.51.5

“Group of Indian Boys, from Dakota Territory,” 1880-1881. Hampton, Virginia. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. George D. Payne, 79.51.6


References:

Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institutes American Indian Students, 1878-1923, compiled and edited from American Indian student files held in the archives of Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia.
Jon L. Brudvig, Ph.D.,  1994 and 1996.


The Warren Family of Doctors, Freemasonry, and Bunker Hill

Warren_Statue_engraving_web On Wednesday, June 17, 1857, the Bunker Hill Memorial Association unveiled a statue of Joseph Warren (1741-1775), who died at the Battle of Bunker Hill exactly 82 years earlier. To commemorate the occasion, the Bunker Hill Memorial Association printed Celebrations by the Bunker Hill Monument Association, of the Anniversary of the Battle of Bunker Hill, in 1850 and 1857 (below, right). Our copy of these proceedings is particularly special because it was a presentation copy given to Dr. J. Mason Warren (1811-1867), who was Joseph Warren's grand-nephew, and served on the Bunker Hill Memorial Association's board of directors.

Joseph Warren is often remembered for his pivotal role in two aspects of the American Revolution: as the man who sent Paul Revere and William Dawes on their midnight ride on the night before the Battles of Lexington and Concord, and as a General who died at the Battle of Bunker Hill. By profession, however, Joseph Warren was a doctor, and this played no small role in his life, or in the lives of many others in the Warren family.

In fact, Dr. Joseph Warren stands at the head of a long line of the Warren family of doctors. His brother John Warren (1753-1815) was the principal founder of Harvard Medical School, and, in turn, John Warren's son - John Collins Warren (1778-1856) - was a leading figure in establishing Massachusetts General Hospital and was the first to perform surgery using ether (see this painting and this daguerreotype). The Warren that we are concerned with here today - J. Mason Warren - was a leading surgeon and, while at Massachusetts General Hospital, performed pioneering work in plastic surgery. J. Mason Warren performed the first rhinoplasty procedure in America in 1837. But this line of doctors didn't end there - J. Mason Warren's son, J. Collins Warren (1842-1927) also went on to become a doctor.

Warren_Statue_cover_web Freemasonry, naturally, played a large role in the celebrations surrounding the unveiling of the Warren statue on June 17, 1857. General Joseph Warren was a Mason himself, having been raised in the Lodge of St. Andrew and was Grand Master of the Massachusetts Provincial Grand Lodge from 1769 until his death in 1775. It was Massachusetts Freemasons who gave Joseph Warren a proper and honorable burial a year after the Battle of Bunker Hill. Warren had been buried on the battlefield and his remains were dug up a year later; he was identified by the dental work Paul Revere had done on him. Masons also played a large role in the ceremony surrounding the laying of the cornerstone of the Bunker Hill Memorial. The proceedings of the 1857 unveiling of the statue of Warren enumerate the many dignitaries who processed to Breed's Hill. It was stated that "the Masonic display was large and brilliant; the grand lodges of Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts, twenty-four subordinate lodges, and members of two or three encampments taking part in the procession." You can read more about the Masonic ceremonies surrounding the 1857 dedication of the Warren statue here.

You can read a biography of J. Mason Warren, the grand-nephew of Dr. Joseph Warren here.

Images above are from:

Celebrations by the Bunker Hill Monument Association, of the Anniversary of the Battle of Bunker Hill, in 1850 and 1857. [Boston: Bunker Hill Monument Association, 1858]
Gift of Wilbur Devens Raymond
Call number: RARE E241 .B9 1858