An Art Museum for Jerome AZ—Wouldn’t it Be Great?

Jerome, Arizona needs an art museum that would introduce its numerous visitors to the marvelous art created here by painters, sculptors, photographers, jewelers, potters, etc. during its four major eras: mining days 1876-1953; ghost town years (1950-1960); restoration (1970-2000); contemporary Jerome (2000-present). Many artists, such as Lew Davis and Roger Holt, are nationally acclaimed.

Oil painting by Roger Holt

Oil painting by Roger Holt depicting Jerome in its ‘ghost town’ era.

The town of Jerome owns some art created by Jerome artists and it hangs in some of the town offices, meeting rooms and libraries. The Jerome Mine Museum on Main Street has a small collection of very fine oil paintings depicting mining days. The Jerome Historical Society archives has a considerable photography collection, only a very small portion of which has been printed and is on display. The Jerome State Historic Park has a small collection of photos and paintings. Some of that art owned by these entities is museum quality and should be protected and displayed in one location.

Sadly, however, much of the great art created in Jerome AZ before 1990 is gone—to families of artists that have died, to museums, and to visitors and residents of Jerome and the Verde Valley who had the good sense to buy it.

Three shows that occurred in Jerome within the last fifty years gave residents and visitors glimpses of the greatness of artists that once lived in Jerome.

Lew Davis: The Dean Arizona Artists

During the nineteen seventies, the Verde Valley Art Association in Jerome AZ sponsored a show of the art of Lew Davis, dean of Arizona artists, who grew up in Jerome during its mining days. The show included one of his most famous pieces, “Morning at the Little Daisy.” VVAA Director and musician Pat Jacobson and Arts Coordinator and jeweler Susan Dowling went to Phoenix in Pat’s pickup truck and borrowed all of Davis’ paintings from museums and collectors.

"Morning at the Little Daisy" by Lew Davis

“Morning at the Little Daisy,” by Lew Davis, owned by the Phoenix Art Museum. Davis grew up in Jerome, not wanting to admit to wanting to be an artist in a community of miners. After he moved out of Jerome, Davis painted a series of paintings depicting life in Jerome.

Other VVAA art shows featured the work of Arcosanti visionary Paolo Soleri and nationally renowned Verde Valley sculptor John Waddell.

The VVAA shows of Arizona artists and Jerome artists’ studio tours helped place Jerome on the map as an art destination. Shows of Jerome resident artists introduced their art to visitors and gave many artists their first sales.

1999: Images of Jerome

The Jerome Historical Society sponsored an art show in 1999 called “Images of Jerome: A Centennial Retrospective: 1899–1999.” The show depicted the culture of the community during three distinct periods: mining era, ghost town years, and restoration. A collection of more than one hundred paintings, photographs, jewelry, stained glass, tiles, sculpture, and pottery were displayed that were created by artists and artisans that lived in Jerome. The art was of excellent quality.

“Miner Pushing Ore Cart” by William D. White.

“Miner Pushing Ore Cart” by William D. White. This painting was the poster cover for
“Images of Jerome” exhibition in 1999. The painting was part of a series commissioned by Phelps Dodge Corporation in the mid-1930’s depicting copper miners. After the society formed in 1953, The American Legion loaned six of White’s paintings to the Jerome Historical Society and they were eventually accessioned by them.

I produced that show on behalf of the society. It was a propitious time to remind those of us who helped rescue the town of our deep attachments here and our roots into every aspect of its culture. The art was gathered from about 150 homes, studios, and businesses in Jerome and from the society’s collection in the Mine Museum. Curators ML Lincoln and Karen Mackenzie put in more than four hundred volunteer hours. They were astonished to find homes so chock full of Jerome art that they looked like miniature art museums. “These were not wealthy people collecting art as an investment but art to treasure as you would a good friend,” ML said. “Artists traded among each other or bartered their work for carpentry or bookkeeping or another piece of art. It was all very personal.” Lincoln and Mackenzie photographed all the art that they saw in people’s homes and donated the slides to the Jerome Historical Society for their archival records.

Vincent Family Art Exhibit

In 2012, Henry Vincent, a well-known Cottonwood CPA and resident of Jerome AZ had a showing of the art his family had gathered, much of it from Jerome artists at the old Manheim Gallery in Old Town Cottonwood. It was called the Vincent Family Art Exhibit and comprised more than thirty art works that had never been on public display and were not for sale, the majority of it by Jerome artists. Henry’s father Tom and mother Frankie remodeled a home in Jerome and moved into it in 1962. He began collecting art from Jerome artists. Their three children, Ed, Maeve and Henry continued collecting it.

The show included a painting of the Vincent family home called “First Snow” by Jerome artist and resident Robert Knudson and four or five paintings by Roger Holt the celebrated American artist, Roger Holt, who had exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Corcoran Gallery, and Carnegie Institute. Holt and his wife, Shan, arrived in 1954 and lived in Jerome until the mid-1960s. They founded the Verde Valley Artists, which morphed into the Verde Valley Art Association in 1975.

Where Could a Jerome AZ Art Museum be Located?

But where could this museum be?” I was asked whenever I mentioned my idea to people in Jerome on a recent visit. No one disputed that it was a good idea; but they did become very dubious that a museum could find a home here.

At some point, Verde Ex could explore the possibility of donating/selling/granting some or all of the old Mingus High School buildings for an art museum. It’s a logical idea: it has the reputation already as an art studio center and has adequate parking. Verde Ex needn’t displace any of its renters, many of them artists, but it could stipulate that whenever the renter gave up the space, it would become part of the new museum.

Would Verde Ex by up for selling? That would have to be explored. Could money to buy some of all of the complex for a museum be raised from donations and grants: no doubt.

OR??????

But Wouldn’t It be Great

If an art museum did exist in Jerome AZ?

Wouldn’t it be great if special shows could be brought up to Jerome by artists that visited or lived here? Like Lew Davis. Or the great Edward Weston who photographed Jerome in the thirties.

An art museum could raise the funds and persuade the Corcoran Gallery in Washington D.C. to help mount an exhibit here in Jerome of some of the collection of William Andrews Clark, the man who started the first of Jerome ‘s great copper mines. Like his collection of rare laces. Or world-renowned collection of majolica pottery.

Wouldn’t it be great for Jerome artists, before they died or moved away, to donate one or two pieces to the museum, instead of it evaporating out of town, never to be seen again. I’m thinking of the great work by artist Paul Nonnast, who died a few years ago, and whose home and studio are on the market. Or stained glass artist Nancy Louden. Or the tiles and magnets of Jade and Rosie? Or some of the work of jeweler Shorty Powell, who lived here in the sixties. I’ve never seen any of his art.

Wouldn’t it be great if some of us who own some of the great art that has been created here in Jerome could leave it as a bequest to the new museum?

Wouldn’t it be great if there was one place our tourists could see the fantastic art that was created here in all eras of Jerome’s fantastic and colorful lives.

Fall in Jerome AZ

“Fall in Jerome” by Mark Hembleben, a plein air artist currently living and painting in Jerome. Hembleben has an art studio in the old Mingus Union High School. This painting would be one of my candidates for a new art museum in Jerome AZ. (www.markhemleben.com).

Wouldn’t it be great if there was one great art museum where visitors could recognize how deeply entwined art was in the history and collective identity of Jerome?

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Jerome, AZ 2014—America’s Loveliest Town

Jerome AZ is home when I come back to visit, as familiar and comfortable as my new home in Hines, Oregon. I was hugged back into its warmth and beauty by friends and family.

I strolled through streets that are full of magic and surprise. It’s not just the highly individual houses and gardens, but coming upon staircases that climb to nowhere, secret pathways, gussied up pink flamingos, an old dental chair planted in the grass, the body of a 1951 Chrysler New Yorker floating on a pedestal adjacent to the New State Motor Company.

Fantasy garden in Jerome AZ.

Karen calls this her Jerome AZ fantasy garden. I call it the garden of magic and surprise. lovely Lady Bank roses cascade up the large tree and the peace sign is lit at night. Photo by Karen Mackenzie

It was late spring. Thousands of trees in hundreds of varieties had greened up. Apricots and peaches were plumping out; it would be a bonanza year. Pink, red and yellow roses cascaded off porch trellises. It made me feel like I was walking through a terraced arboretum decorated with people-sized dollhouses.

It was difficult to imagine that in 1953 Jerome and the surrounding mountains were denuded of vegetation.

Unlike virtually any other American town, Jerome, AZ is framed in by a wild rocky landscape. The entire town is encompassed in about one square mile. There are no perimeter condos or trailer parks; no big box stores; no fast food franchises, no blighted neighborhoods. The land surrounding the town is owned by that is owned by mining and other large entities and the US Forest Service.

Jerome AZ illustration by Anne Bassett

The entire town of Jerome AZ is encompassed in about an aereal mile. Illustration by Anne Bassett (www.jeromeartistannebasset.com) for Diane Rapaport’s book, Home Sweet Jerome—Death and Rebirth of Arizona’s Richest Copper Mining City (homesweetjerome.net).

Every stroll shows me stupendous backdrops of craggy copper-colored canyons above Jerome or sweeps my eyes 1700 feet down and across the Verde Valley to the carmine and buff buttes, which form the ramparts known as the Mogollon Rim. The lighting effects produced by any kind of weather are entrancing.

Late afternoon in Jerome AZ

Views from Jerome AZ are stupendous, especially when their are storm clouds. “Heaven on earth” is what photographer Ron Chilston calls it.  (www.ron-chilston.artistwebsites.com)

The mining history of this once fabled city is everywhere present. Just up from the post office on Main Street, I can take in the elegance of fifteen lovingly restored Victorian houses, built by William Andrews Clark, the mining mogul reputed to be richer than Rockefeller. My eyes can look at the big buildings that dominate most every neighborhood and remember how derelict they looked when I moved to Jerome in 1980. Now they are architectural showcases, lovingly used and enjoyed.

DeCamp House

The DeCamp house on Company Hill in Jerome AZ. It sits on the edge of Paradise Lane. Illustration by Anne Bassett (www.jeromeartistannebassett.com/

The restoration efforts led to Jerome AZ being declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976. A decade before, the commercial district had been designated as a National Historic District.)

The white Douglas Mansion, the largest adobe brick structure in Arizona, once belonged to Jimmy Douglas, the second wealthiest mining mogul in Jerome, AZ. The mansion is now a meticulously cared for state park and museum. Nearby, the Daisy Hotel, once a miner’s hotel, and, after the fifties, an informal child’s skateboard and hide and seek playground, is now a handsomely restored home for its owners. The old hospital has become the Grand Hotel with its gracious maroon awnings. The Mingus Union High School complex is crammed full of remarkable art studios. The old elementary school houses town hall, offices and public library.

I always gawk at Jerome’s retaining walls, its immense, and somewhat unheralded, architectural treasure. The walls behind the new fire station and down by the basketball court near the sliding jail are built with rocks so large you’d think giants lifted them. Other walls are built with trestles from old railroad beds, steel sheets, or even bedsprings. Still others are huge concrete edifices. Some 1500 retaining walls have been built in Jerome AZ and they are as individual as the homes that people have restored. The walls keep the town from toppling down the mountain.

Wall on Highway 89A, Jerome AZ

One of the first Jerome AZ walls that drivers notice on their way up from the Verde Valley is right on Highway 89A. It was built by Mexicans and Italian stonemasons in the 1930’s as a WPA project. The limestone rocks are quarried from the Martin formation just outside of town. The rocks have settled and withstood a few rumbles, which accounts for some of their curved lines. Photo by Bob Swanson (SwansonImages.com)

The Jerome Historical Society (http://jeromehistoricalsociety.com/) has displayed many mining artifacts in its parks and streets: iron ore carts, the coal coker, the huge half steel spoke outside its mine museum on Main Street. They have transformed an old Audrey head frame below the Douglas State Park Museum into a museum mini park. I stand on top of the glass walkway and look down almost 1900 feet into the old elevator shaft, a view enhanced by dramatic xenon lighting and specially designed mirrors. I saw an old elevator ‘cage’ and wonder if it was the same one that once transported me almost 5000 feet down into the large mine caverns.

Audrey Headframe

The Audrey headframe was part of the elevator that took employees down into the United Verde Extension Copper Mine in Jerome AZ.

After more than sixty years of restoration, the ghost town derelict that Jerome became after 1953 is gone. It is arguably the most photographed and painted town in America. Visually, Jerome, AZ gets my vote for the loveliest town in America.

Fall in Jerome AZ

Fall in Jerome AZ by plein aire artist Mark Hemleben (markhemleben.com).

Book Review—Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune

I would love to have had a fairy godmother like the late Huguette Clark. She was the daughter of William Andrews Clark, owner of Jerome, Arizona’s legendary United Verde copper mine, and, in his lifetime, one of the richest men in the world. Huguette was the rich princess bestowing gifts of great worth with her magic wand throughout her 105-year life.

The book, written by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr., was published in 2013 by Ballatine Books.

Interestingly enough, the cover of the book does not show the mansions and apartments that Huguette abandoned, but the lavish home that her father, William Andrews Clark built on Millionaire’s Row in Manhattan.  Clark’s wife Anna and Huguette and Andree, daughters of that marriage, lived there until his death in 1925.

Interestingly enough, the cover of the book does not show the mansions and apartments that Huguette abandoned, but the lavish nine-story home that her father, William Andrews Clark built on Millionaire’s Row in Manhattan. Clark’s wife Anna and Huguette and Andree, daughters of that marriage, lived there until his death in 1925.

I loved the story of Gwendolyn Jenkins, an immigrant from Jamaica who became a nurse’s aide. Jenkins helped take care of Irving Gordon, a Madison Avenue stockbroker who helped handle Huguette’s investments and died of cancer. After his death, Huguette wrote her a lovely note, “a proper note” thanking her for his care.  “She included a ‘little gift,’ “a check for three hundred dollars.” Her daughter said, “You’d better sit down, Mother, and let me read this letter over to you. This check is for thirty thousand dollars!”

In another story, Huguette waved her magic wand to find the illustrator Felix Lourioux, who illustrated fairy tales in the French weekly, “La Semaine de Suzette,” a favorite in her youth, and commissioned several works by him. Lourioux was also the early illustrator of Mickey Mouse books. She lavishly supported him and his wife Lily throughout their lives.

Huguette spent a great deal of her considerable fortune on her very personal tastes in art and people. She supported as many as a hundred families in her lifetime—artists, craftspeople illustrators, and musicians; William Gower husband of less than a year and his new family; the Frenchman Etienne de Villermont, the love of her life whom she refused to marry and the wife he eventually married; relatives, friends, staff that helped take care of her many properties, and nurses.

The surprise of the book was that Huguette’s passion was dolls. She spent millions of dollars on buying and outfitting them with costumes. She meticulously researched the period in which each doll came from and directed the building of the ‘house’ or ‘castle’ some were to live in as well as furniture and accessories to go with them. She extravagantly paid the artisans, sent gifts to their wives, children and grandchildren and continued to support the families after they died. (The collection is valued at $1.7 million.)

Photos of two of the dolls from Huguette’s collection that are found in the book. To help publicize its publication, authors Dedman and Newell posted a three-minute plus video on NBC News displaying images of Huguette’s doll collection of French, Japanese, German dolls and some of their lavishly made homes. The background music is the tune “Salut d’Amour, played by pianist Eduard Laurel and violinist James Ehness on the the famous Strativarious violin, “La Pucelle.” http://www.nbcnews.com/video/nbc-news/52916662#52916662

Photos of two of the dolls from Huguette’s collection that are found in the book. To help publicize its publication, authors Dedman and Newell posted a three-minute plus video on NBC News displaying images of Huguette’s doll collection of French, Japanese, German dolls and some of their lavishly made homes. The background music is the tune “Salut d’Amour, played by pianist Eduard Laurel and violinist James Ehness on the the famous Strativarious violin, “La Pucelle.” http://www.nbcnews.com/video/nbc-news/52916662#52916662

I loved the story of the Japanese artist Saburo Kawakami who was hired to build a replica the lavish Hirosaki Castle, which included cutting shingles from a rare Japanese cedar for its roof. Huguette loved Japanese culture and history and collected rare Japanese Hina and other period dolls.

As portrayed in the book, Huguette was exceptionally private, well-mannered, introverted, shy, generous, and kind, absorbed daily in private passions that gave her a great deal of pleasure. Not much more about her personality can be gleaned from the book. To his credit, Dedman tried hard—plugging through archives, bank drafts and written documents and interviewing anyone alive who knew her. Co-author Newell’s scant five sidebars of conversations with Huguette on the telephone don’t add much by way of illumination and left me wondering why the book included them.

If I have a quarrel with the book it is that the book is very much a prize-winning journalist’s approach to writing about someone whose life was so carefully guarded. Perhaps only a third of the book is about what can be gleaned about Huguette from descriptions of her art and doll collection, descriptions of the lavish homes she lived in and abandoned, and the people that received some of her generous gifts.

Even the major love of Huguette’s life (“Love of Half a Life”) with the Marquis Etienne de Villermont gets a scant five pages, taken up in part with a few short affectionate notes between them: “It’s Valentine’s Day and I am thinking of you with great affection. I send you this bouquet but the mimosas are under the snow. We will take the boat in the middle of March, the United States. It will be a joy to see you. I can’t wait, I hope you are well, will try to call you. Much love, always, Etienne.” Another page or so of this segment describes the friendship that continued after he became married to someone else, which included Huguette’s gifts to help them adopt a child and a description of some of the gifts she sent to that child.

You have to admire a woman who was able to guard her privacy to that extent and live quite a full life absorbed by the pleasures and people she was drawn to. Up until her twenty-year stay at Beth Israel Medical Center, she stayed clear from fortune hunters, gossip, media attention, and family or friends that might only have cozied up because of that fortune.

What is interesting is that the book documents the sadness of those aspects of a very wealthy person’s life—attempts by Beth Israel to get her to sign over much of what remained of her fortune (politely called ‘cultivating the donor’). Equally sad is the lawsuit instigated by remnants of her family, most of whom had never met her, who wanted a piece of her fortune. Sad too the controversy surrounding Hadassah Peri, the nurse that devoted her life to taking care of Huguette while she was in the hospital and became perhaps her only friend and confidante. Huguette supported her with huge donations to her and her family ($31 million!) and left a considerable portion more to her in the will,

The settlement of Huguette’s estate came after the book was published. Those who would like to know about it can read Dedman’s article, “Huguette Clark’s $300 million copper fortune is divided up: Here’s the deal” at http://investigations.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/09/24/20675759-huguette-clarks-300-million-copper-fortune-is-divided-up-heres-the-deal

There’s a lot of captivating detail to interest the reader who can’t get enough of the lives of the rich and famous.

The most interesting and valuable segment  of Empty Mansions is the 125 pages or so (almost a third of the book) devoted to William Andrews Clark, Huguette’s father. For me, It is single best biography yet written about W.A. Clark, from his birth to a not so poor family, to his education, growth of his business empire, the building of his mansion in New York, and the dissolution the mansion and sale of the United Verde mine. The book offers a much more complex and interesting portrait of him than the one of Huguette.

William Andrews Clark in Jerome, Arizona.  Courtesy of the Herbert V. Young Collection of the Jerome Historical Society.

William Andrews Clark in Jerome, Arizona. Courtesy of the Herbert V. Young Collection of the Jerome Historical Society.

Perhaps this is where Newell added a great deal of value to Empty Mansions. Newell’s father was Clark’s uncle and Clark often visited him when he was in Los Angeles. Newell was writing a biography about Clark but “his health was failing, so only fragments of that work were completed.”  Newell took up that his father’s work by organizing the archives, visiting museums and historical societies and developing friendships with some of the relatives that had known Clark. It was a visit to the Corcoran Gallery that revealed that Huguette was still alive (by this time she was already ensconced in Beth Israel Medical Center). Newell  was quick to say that even his father had never met the very shy and reclusive Huguette.

The segment on Clark included 18 pages of rich new information about the battles between Marcus Daly (owner of the Anaconda Copper Mining Company) and Clark for control of political power in Butte.  These include debunking some of the allegations of Clark’s bribery for the United States Senate and its aftermath, which included the Daly camp’s bribery of some of the Montana legislators that had initially voted for Clark to recant their testimony. Clark eventually resigned in the swirl of controversy, then was reappointed to fill the vacancy.

The book also debunks the veracity of Mark Twain’s now famous and oft-quoted excoriation of Clark.  “He is as rotten a human being as can be found anywhere under the flag.” (It goes to show that negative accusations always stay more firmly in the mind that positive ones, especially when they are well-written.) Turns out Twain had been saved from bankruptcy and was a close friend of Henry Huttleston Rogers, CEO of Rockefeller’s Standard Oil, the company which took over Daly’s Anaconda Copper, a fabulous stock swindle story all on its own.

Empty Mansions contains twenty-four pages of wonderful (and rare) color photographs and many black and white ones. My favorites were the black and white photo of Anna Clark’s bedroom with her harp at Bellosguardo taken in 1940 by Karl Obert and the full page photo of the very lovely Huguette taken in 1943.

In summary: Empty Mansions is a good read—especially for those of us who love the history of Jerome and all the byways it can take us on.

A Legacy of Art: The Family of William Andrews Clark

In 1988, I made a visit to the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C. to see the fabulous art collection bequeathed by the late William Andrews Clark. He was the owner of Jerome, Arizona’s United Verde Copper Company, the legendary mine that was once the nation’s largest copper producer.

There I saw some of his fabulous collection of 16th century Italian majolica pottery, rare Gobelins tapestry, the lovely ballerinas painted by Degas (I have a small black and white Degas sketch that my mother left me), and the Salon Dore, which was in the middle of half a million dollar renovation.

Degas_26_74-w300

I watched French artisans meticulously restoring the extensive gold leaf in the Louis XIV Salon Dore, which was in the midst of renovation. The room used to be in Clark’s New York mansion. The ceiling of the salon was a large canvas that was painted by the great French artist Jean-Honore Fragonard. Clark’s daughter Huguette contributed $50,000 to the restoration.

The Corcoran Gallery of Art's Salon Dore used to be in the New York mansion of William Andrews Clark.

The Corcoran Gallery of Art’s Salon Dore used to be in the New York mansion of William Andrews Clark. Prior to that it was part of a French Palace.

Although William Andrews Clark was the owner of the United Verde Copper Company, the largest mine in Jerome, few people in Jerome recognize his name. The historical society’s Mine Museum gives him a photo and a few scant paragraphs. In 2012, the chief sales person could not tell me anything about him. “I’m just learning about Jerome,” she told me.

Perhaps his name will become more familiar because of the book, Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newall, Jr. which became a New York Times best seller after it was published in 2013. Huguette was one of America’s great heiresses and the only remaining child of both W.A Clark’s first and second marriages.

Until her death in 2011, few people in America had heard of her either. It took a few weeks, and a phone call from local geologist Paul Handverger, for The Verde Independent newspaper in Cottonwood, Arizona to figure out that the death of W.A. Clark’s daughter merited an obituary.[1]

During the mining heydays, people in Jerome talked about the billions Clark made in the Jerome mine and other business ventures and the scandal he caused when he bribed his way into being elected as a United States senator.

Only a few people knew that Clark’s private passion was art.

William Andrews Clark in Jerome, Arizona.  Courtesy of the Herbert V. Young Collection of the Jerome Historical Society.

William Andrews Clark in Jerome, Arizona. Courtesy of the Herbert V. Young Collection of the Jerome Historical Society.

Jerome, Arizona, early nineteen hundreds. Courtesy collection of Herbert V. Young, Jerome HIstorical Society

Jerome, Arizona, early nineteen hundreds. Courtesy collection of Herbert V. Young, Jerome HIstorical Society

View of Jerome and Cleopatra Hill from the old cemetary. Photograph by Bob Swanson (Swanson Images.com)

View of Jerome and Cleopatra Hill in 1985  from the old cemetary. Photograph by Bob Swanson (Swanson Images.com)

Today, few people in Jerome recognize the name of William Andrews Clark. The Jerome Historical Society’s Mine Museum gives him a photo and a few scant paragraphs. The museum’s gift shop manager that I talked with in January 2013 did not recognize his name. “I’m just learning about Jerome,” she told me.

During the mining heydays, people in Jerome talked about Clark’s billions and the scandals caused when he bribed his way into the United States Senate (he resigned rather than become impeached.)

Few people in Jerome know that Clark’s private passion was art.

The New York Mansion that Became Clark’s Private Art Museum

In 1908, Clark completed construction of his fifteen million dollar, 137-room, nine-story mansion on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 77th in New York, known popularly as ‘Millionaires Row.’ A huge copper dome that glittered in the sun topped the mansion. One popular writer of New York society called the mansion a “rusticated and encrusted folly spewing an anthology of over-blown detail taken from every county courthouse and Victorian city hall, plus a ridiculous steeple.”[2]

The mansion contained four large art galleries, lined with red velvet, which were filled with hundreds of French paintings by Corot, Degas, Renoir, Monet, Van Dyck and Rembrandt, rare laces from Belgium and Venice, a large collection of Italian Majolica pottery, Persian rugs and rare Gobelins tapestries. Clark shopped for much of the art himself. He loved his treasures.

The mansion that William Andrews Clark built on Millionaire's Row in Manhattan in 1912.

The mansion that William Andrews Clark built on Millionaire’s Row in Manhattan that was completed in 1912.

The crusty New York Society shunned Clark, his very young second wife Anna, and their daughters Huguette and Andree.

Huguette Clark (left), her father William Andrews Clark, and daughter Andree (right).

Huguette Clark (left), her father William Andrews Clark, and daughter Andree (right) taken in Butte, Montana.

They called Clark a quick boy, a slur that referred to his being born in a poor family and making his money too quickly. {2}

When Clark offered his art collection to the governing board of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, made up of many of the snobbish robber barons and their wives, they turned it down. According to newspaper accounts, the public reasons were that the collection was too ‘spotty,’ and came with too many strings attached.  Clark bequeathed his collection to the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. After his death, his wife and daughters contributed the equivalent of nine million dollars to build a wing to house the collection.

The mansion was willed to Huguette and four children by his former marriage. Huguette moved out. The other siblings had no will to live in it or maintain it. The building sold for 3 million and was torn down by its new owner to make way for an apartment building. Many of the furnishings were sold at auction. [3]

A Passion for Art

Clark’s passion for art extended to his family.

Anna, Clark’s second wife, loved chamber music, and was a musician dedicated to learning to play the harp. She not founded the famed Paganini Quartet, and purchased four Stradivarious instruments for the musicians to play on.  (Andree, her other daughter, died when she was seventeen.)

William Andrews Clark, Jr., a son by his first wife, and a violinist, founded the Los Angeles Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra. An avid collector of English history and literature resulted in his bequeathing 13,000 volumes to UCLA and the building that housed them, along with an endowment of $1.5 million.  It is now known as the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library. The library has grown to contain 980,000 volumes. The only restriction in Clark’s will was that the books could only leave the library for repairs.

Huguette was a fine arts painter and a collector of art, including paintings by Monet and Renoir. She played the violin and in the fifties purchased one of Antonio Stradivari’s very finest violins called “La Pucelle,” or “The Virgin.” The tailpiece depicts Joan of Arc, the virgin warrior, a story much loved by Huguette.

Huguette’s major passion was the collecting, outfitting and housing of French, Japanese, German and American dolls. She meticulously researched homes to fit their lifestyles and their furnishings and spent millions in commissioning artisans to build them.

In a settlement of Huguette’s will, her  eighty-five million dollar seaside mansion known as Bellosguardo, in Santa Barbara, California become an arts foundation and would receive fifteen percent of her fortune (4.5 million in cash) and the doll collection that was valued at 1.7 million.[5]

It is a sadness to me that the William Andrews Clark family whose legacy includes the twin pillars of both history and art on which Jerome has become famous should be so forgotten, ghosts that inhabit the ethers of Jerome but not many memories.


[1] Ayers, Steve, “Poor Little Rich Girl,” The Verde Independent, June 8, 2011. http://www.verdenews.com/main.asp?SectionID=74&SubSectionID=114&ArticleID=42352  (Huguette died on May 24, 2011).
[2] Simon, Kate. Fifth Avenue: A Very Social History. Harcourt Brace Jovanovish, New York and London: 1978, page 219[3]  David Montgomery, staff writer for The Washington Post, wrote this blog on January 31, 2013.
[3} Dedman, Bill and Paul Clark Newell, Jr. Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune. Ballantine Books, New York, 2013, page 119.
[4] Dedman, op cit., pp.  274-276.
[5]. Dedman, op cit., pp 294-300.