Archive for Chelsea
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Hermon A. MacNeil
2016 marks the anniversary of two events:
Hermon MacNeil’s Birth: (click here)
He was born in Chelsea (Plattsville, Everett, Malden), Massachusetts. The area went through many changes of names, annexation, and incorporation from 1860-1900. [ CLICK HERE FOR MORE on MacNeil’s Birth ]
The Minting of the Standing Liberty Quarter: (click here)
Issued from 1916-1930 the Standing Liberty Quarter (SLQ) sculpted by Hermon A. MacNeil. [ CLICK HERE FOR MORE on SLQ ]
Hermon Atkins MacNeil (1866-1947) and Thomas Henry McNeil (1860-1932) were cousins. They shared a common grandfather, Peter McNeil (1786-1847).
Hermon is the sculptor celebrated on this website.Thomas (Tom Henry) was my grandfather. My mother, Ollie Francis McNeil, always referred to Hermon as “Uncle Hermon”. Their parents wanted her (and her sisters and brother) to do that out of respect.
Hermon was more correctly their “first cousin, once removed”. But “Uncle” seems both easier and more respectful. Hermon would be my “first cousin, twice removed” [ see ancestry chart below ].
Tom Henry was born in Missouri, near Burdette in Bates County. He graduated from the University of Michigan. He played football there as the first starting quarterback in consecutive seasons. He practiced as a lawyer for Kansas City Railways Company, and in later years, he was responsible for making accident reports to the Interstate Commerce Commission and the Public Service Commission of Missouri. He died in 1932.
Hermon was born in Everett (Chelsea, Malden) Mass. In 1886 he graduated from Normal Art School in Boston (now Mass Art). He moved to Cornell University, New York, until 1889, leaving to study in Paris as a pupil of Henri M. Chapu and Alexandre Falguière. He sculpted in Chicago from 1891-1895, at the Columbian World Exposition (1893 Chicago World’s Fair) meeting Carol Brooks (also a sculptor). They married on Christmas Day 1895 and sailed days later for Rome (1895-99). Following another year in Paris (1899-1900), they settled in New York City building a home and studio in College Point, Long Island. He worked and lived there until his death in 1947.
FOR MORE read:
Daniel Neil Leininger, webmaster, HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com
- Today is the 145th Anniversary of Hermon MacNeil’s birth.
- The above celebrates his life from the Everett, Massachusetts city website.
In his 1924 interview, McSpadden suggests that an artistic strain ran through MacNeil’s family. “His uncle, Henry Mitchell, was a steel-engraver and gem-cutter, and was versed in heraldry.”
He quotes Hermon,
“My mother painted … but it was the usual copy work of the good old days, when every girl was expected to have an accomplishment, and most of them did samplers. She evidently liked her painting, as I still have one of her pictures.” (p. 309)
MacNeil’s own skills and art interests seemed to have developed early on. He explained to McSpadden:
“How did I come to take up art? I fell into it naturally. I remember that as a boy in my teens, attending the public schools, I looked forward eagerly to Friday afternoon; for then it was that we had our one art class each week. It wasn’t much to boast of — just some cubes and such like inanimate objects for pencil drawings on paper, but I thought it was great.” (p. 309)
He told of a “trivial little incident” when the teacher left the room. Upon his return, most of the class was “skylarking” (frolicking, playing, boisterously). Displeased, the teacher admonished the class. Then he walked the aisle looking at drawings. Singling out several students, including Hermon, he said,
‘Now if you would turn out good work like this and this‘ — and yes, yours too’ (to Hermon). As MacNeil shared this account some 40 years after the incident, he told McSpadden, “I had only been included in a general commendation, but that little remark has stuck with me to this day.” (p. 309-10)
At Hermon’s urgent request, his parents sent him to State Normal Arts School in 1886. In that year, the new Massachusetts Normal Art School building was constructed at the corner of Newbury and Exeter Streets (See map in Jan 27th posting below).
“I told my parents it was what I wanted to do above everything else.” It was a stiff four-years’ course, where everything was taught in the line of art — painting draftsmanship, drawing for mathematical and engineering subjects, architecture and sculpture, — and MacNeil took them all. it was not until the last year that he reached sculpture, and by that time he had determined that this was what he wanted to make his life-work. “I went through the whole gamut, and the further I went the more it laid hold of me,” he avers. (p. 310)
Source: Joseph Walker, Famous Sculptors of America, pp. 307-326.
One month from today, February 27, 2011 will mark the 145th Anniversary of the birth of Hermon Atkins MacNeil. We here at HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com will be celebrating February as MacNeil Month.
We will be with posting information about the sculptor’s early life history (such as is available).BIRTH: Hermon was born in 1866. Most sources say in Chelsea, Massachusetts, now an inner urban suburb of Boston, the capital city. Chelsea borders Boston Harbor only about three miles from what is now Logan International Airport. The Chelsea area is much like the little peninsula of College Point in Queens, New York where Mac Neil would later set up his New York studio home in about 1904.)
In a 1924 interview with Hermon at the College Point studio, J. Walker McSpadden stated that the sculptor was born “at Plattville near Chelsea.” Plattville is 40 miles south of Chelsea and 35 miles south of Boston. Even more sources associate “Hermon MacNeil” with ‘Everett’ Massachuesetts. Just Googling those 3 words gave me 6 hits for Everett MA as his birthplace. Whether he was born in Plattville and moved shortly after is unclear. There are MANY MacNeil’s in this area of Massachusetts and surrounding New England (or should I say ‘New Scotland?’). Perhaps Hermon was born at the home of grandparents or other relatives. What is clear is that for the next 26 years he would live, grow, and study in immediate area of Chelsea/ Boston .
At the age of 20, he received his first formal training in the arts at the Normal Art School in Boston in 1886. According to the timeline for MassArt on Wikipedia this was the same year that the new art school building was opened:
- 1886: The new Massachusetts Normal Art School building is constructed at the corner of Newbury and Exeter Streets ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massachusetts_Normal_Art_School )
A current Google Streetview of this corner shows a quaint old city neighborhood. The old stone building on the northeast corner of the intersection says “First Spiritual Temple,” a Spiritualist church. According to wikipedia:
On the corner of Exeter and Newbury Street—the address is given both as 181 Newbury Street and as 26 Exeter Street—is a striking building designed by Boston architects Hartwell and Richardson in the Romanesque Revival style. It was originally built in 1885 as the First Spiritual Temple, a Spiritualist church. In 1914 it became a movie theater, the Exeter Street Theatre.
NEXT WEEK: MORE ABOUT MacNeil”s EARLY YEARS AT HOME AND BOSTON.
In the meanwhile find more about MacNeil on our website at:
Here is a Google Map of the corner of Newbury and Exeter Streets in Boston. Enjoy lookin’ around!