Frederick Warren Allen

AMERICAN SCULPTOR, BOSTON SCHOOL

Search: st francis and the wolf of gubbio

The Kershaw estate has a tantalizing history with a murder involved. For that story, read online or in print the story of Stone Pond, A Personal History by William D. Eddy, The Plain White Press, 1988. Included are the stories of the opulent and mysterious George Bigelow Chase, a Boston and Dedham Episcopalian. Next the bon-vivant and diminutive-figured author Paul Leicester Ford who was the murder victim. Then Edward H. Kidder, whose wife was in the house when Ford was murdered. He was at the top of the high society lists. His tenure boasts rides for his wealthy fun-loving friends in hupmobiles, jaunts on dirt roads into the surrounding country of his Marlborough, NH home. Last came the privileged Kershaws, steeped in religion and the arts, they too had their share of scandal in prohibition days.

The Kershaws purchased Meerwood on Stone Pond, Marlborough, N.H. in 1916 from Forrest L. Hart and renamed it Merrywood. The Kershaws lived on Bond St in Boston and were members of Christ Church, Cambridge. The St. Francis Chapel was built in 1926 on the shores of Stone Pond. The book notes that many things from the chapel were stolen and vandalized, “statues of Francis and other chapel treasures.”

Ivah and Rosamond Hackler supplied information about the Chapel. They were living there in 1985 on the Dublin side of the Public Landing. Ivah cleaned the chapel from 1924-1928 and stayed with Mrs. Kershaw in Boston in his time off from college studies. Ivah became headmaster of Pinkerton Academy in Derry for 32 years. He married Rosamund, an R.N., in Maine in 1936.

The St. Francis statue pictured in the book on p.70 with its millstone base from Lyndeborough, was put in place by Ivah Hakler and Morris Carter, a secretary to Mrs. Kershaw and later in charge of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

Adio diBiccari, a favorite student of Frederick Warren Allen, was a regular at Merrywood. He was first invited there in the early 1930’s by his friend and fellow student at the Museum School, Peter Hawes who had been “adopted” by Justine Kershaw after the death of her husband Francis. Peter had aspired at one point to the priesthood so he and his friends would put on little religious plays in the St. Francis Chapel. Adio became entranced by Stone Pond and Merrywood, was married there and lived for a while in one of the estate houses. “It was there that his sculpture career began to take root.” (p.117) He was a student at the Museum School during the 1930’s, receiving a coveted traveling scholarship for the 1936-37 year. It was after his year in Europe that Merrywood became his home.

Frederick Warren Allen sculpted four pieces for the Kershaws. A lunette fresco relief for the door of the chapel, a crucifix in oak for the exterior apse wall, the St.Francis statue in granite and a marble bust of Francis Kershaw.

Miscellaneous notes of interest are that 1) Allen’s daughter remembered the Crucifix as having been made for the private chapel of Mrs. Prince in Dedham. There is no one of that name listed in Dedham, but Mrs. Prince was Allen’s student between 1919-1922 and rented a studio from him. 2) Chase was very involved in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Dedham at the time of his death about 1893. Perhaps the family stayed involved into the early 1900’s. 4) Father Whitney Hale, the Priest starting around 1960 was a descendant of the Frosts who had been in Marlborough since before Chase. He had also been Rector at Church of the Advent in Boston for which Allen sculpted a very large relief for the West Portal. So many connections in this high society network. Those are the patrons who support the fine arts.

For more information on diBiccari and his experiences at Merrywood, refer to Adio diBiccari, A Life in Sculpture, by Elizabeth Lutyens, privately published in a limited edition.
For more on the Kershaws and their gracious summer estate, see the following articles on this site.
St. Francis Birdbath Garden Statue
Chapel of St. Francis and the Wolf of Gubbio
Crucifix, St. Francis Chapel
Francis Stewart Kershaw

John Wingate Weeks (1860-1926), Bronze portrait bust by Frederick Warren Allen, Sculptor. Secretary of War, Mayor of Newton, Congressman and U.S.Senator. Co-founder of Hornblower and Weeks. Creator of the Weeks Act that saved our National Forests.

Without John Wingate Weeks (1860-1926) we would not have the White Mountain National Forest. The Weeks Act was signed into law in 1911. Since that date nearly 20 million acres of forestland have been protected. “No single law has been more important in the return of the forests to the eastern United States” than the Weeks Act. http://www.foresthistory.org/ASPNET/Policy/WeeksAct/index.aspx

Born near Lancaster, NH in the Northern White Mountains, the land was dear to him. He was seeing it destroyed all around him with the slash and burn practices of loggers. After military service in the Navy and making a fortune in the financial firm of Hornblower and Weeks (co-founder in 1888), he moved to Newton, MA in 1893. There he began his political climb, moving up through the local politics to Mayor of that city in 1903 to US Congressman to US Senator to Secretary of War under President Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge. His was an exemplary life of service to America in more than just his military and political careers. The Weeks Act changed forestry practices. http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=w000246

His ashes were buried in grand style at Arlington National Cemetery and a road there was named in his honor. Also named after him were a U.S. Navy destroyer, a footbridge over the Charles River in Cambridge, Weeks State Park, Mount Weeks, and Hornblower & Weeks. He cared about New England and conservation of its land. It was a focus in his life. He died in his beloved mountains at his home in Lancaster.

In his memory the Weeks Junior High School was built in  1930 when John’s son, Sinclair Weeks, was mayor of Newton. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weeks_Junior_High_School

It was a grand building in the Neo-Gothic style with a central tower flanked by lower wings that wrapped around the circle of road that passes it. In the entry was a grand split stairway with a balcony overhanging a wall where a niche was built to accommodate the bust of JWW as a memorial. The black wrought iron on the stairs and balcony were dramatic against the white walls and a large black iron lamp hung in the two-story entry between the stairways.

A photograph of the bust in that niche shows that Frederick Allen originally designed the portrait with a natural bronze head and neck above a clothed body colored a dignified black. Sculptors were aware of architectural styles and those who were allied with architects, as Allen was, would coordinate their work with the stylistic elements of the building they were decorating. The black coloration on the clothing of Week’s bust would have been dramatic punctuation to the wrought iron details of the entryway. Notice in the accompanying portrait photograph that Weeks was wearing a black jacket and tie.

The bust now resides at the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, but the black color on the jacket, shirt and tie have been removed, perhaps by some well-meaning person who believed that the portrait had been defaced by the color. There are traces remaining on the bronze. The evidence is there also in the difference in metal color, the underlying bronze being lighter than the untouched metal of the head and neck, a chemical change that happens in the aging process.

Polychromy in sculpture is an art form that was controversial at the time the bust was created. The argument was with the traditionalists who wanted to protect the purity of form from being sullied by “cheapening” it with color to make it more realistic. The purists sought to keep the lines between painting and sculpture clear. Crossing that line somehow blurred the intentions of each. Not many American sculptors dared to cross that line. Allen was one of them.

(For more information, refer to The Color of Life: Polychromy in Sculpture from Antiquity to the Present, J.Paul Getty Trust, 2008.) See also St. Francis Chapet Lunette)

Looking at the bust next to a painted portrait and to several photos, the likeness is captured perfectly. He was a broad-shouldered man with a stocky neck so the bust is tapered from the width of the shoulders to just below the sternum, accentuating his strength. Clothing communicates a message. He is dressed in a dignified three-piece suit of someone in a position of responsibility, a necktie with a long knot between the rounded points of the narrow-spread shirt collar he seemed to favor. Most of his photographs show him with a small round pin in his left lapel, which is reproduced in this portrait bust.

Allen was interested first in the shape of the skull, and Weeks had a distinctive tall, egg-shaped head with the narrower end at the top of a high forehead.

Anyone who knew him would recognize that head from a distance. Allen made it smooth and polished. In contrast, texture is used in the details of his face. There are frontal eminences above straight brows over large knowing eyes. His average nose and full lips are separated by a large bushy mustache and his chin is round and dimpled. It is a realistic portrayal so Allen hasn’t left out the sagging under-eye skin. He looks straight ahead with a peaceful yet confident and intelligent expression. Here was a man who cared with his heart about New England and knew how to get things done!

Bronze portrait bust
Original work polychromed
Life size
Commissioned for Weeks Junior High School, Newton, MA
Moved to the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, Concord, NH

Lunette at the St. Francis Chapel at Merrywood, Marlborough, NH, F.W.Allen, Sculptor, abt 1930

The entry door to the St.Francis Chapel at the Kershaw Estate in Marlborough, New Hampshire takes you into a tiny sanctuary, still active for summer Episcopal services. Guests at the frequent weddings here approach the chapel under a bell attached to a stone arch onto a low-walled stone terrace overlooking Stone Pond. It has been under a canopy of trees in a grove of laurel with a mountain reflected in the mirror of the water just beside it since it was built in 1926. The whitewashed stucco walls are punctuated with a bright blue wooden door and woodwork trimming the windows. Above the entry in a lunette is a bas-relief of St. Francis kneeling and blessing a wolf. A child following him bears gifts accompanied by a lamb and birds fly and perch nearby. A peaceful scene in a serene place.

The colors of the plaster carving have faded with time and the wood and paint often need repair. In Stone Pond, A Personal History, William D. Eddy remembers that this gift of Frederick W. Allen in memory of Francis Kershaw, who had died the summer of 1930, had rich “Della Robia-like” colors. The low thick walls were thought to be built by Portugese fishermen from a mix containing plaster and seaweed. That memory was corrected to note another combination which also could have produced serious moisture problems.

The chapel has been well-maintained in spite of the moisture. Stone Pond describes the setting by saying, “If there was ever a place for feeling Franciscan about brother sun, sister moon and fruit, herb and flower, I have never encountered one comparable to this …” So St. Francis and his animals greet you as you enter this chapel door over which he kneels to welcome you.

St. Francis Chapel at Merrywood on Stone Pond, Marborough, NH