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An eye on public art and place

In 1927 Horace A. Moses, Ticonderoga’s most prolific early twentieth century benefactor, gifted to the people of this town its Community Building.  The structure was designed to meet a community need, as well as, to be a very public and visual presence in recognition of Ticonderoga’s historical, industrial and cultural heritage.  To further the building’s position of place a lighted cupola crowns the roof line – a beacon to guide one to the then village’s center of industrial and commercial activity.  It was the eastern entrance “gateway” anchor building  along the village’s east-west main street corridor (Montcalm).

As the Liberty Monument and the Hancock House represented the western “gateway” each building have some similar features.  Both were designed by the same architect in the style of historical colonial and colonial revival.  Each have Weymouth granite exteriors to present a very imposing and solid visual connection between the two entrance buildings.

Community Building – Ticonderoga, NY

In 1921 Mr. Moses’ commissioned Charles Keck to design an outdoor sculpture to represent the history that was made here in Ticonderoga.  Mr. Keck’s  “The Birth of Liberty,” was the product of that commission.  An inspirational bronze monument with a concept that our liberty grew from our wilderness.  Using life sized caricatures represented by the four combatants that fought in this region during the 1600s through to the end of the American Revolution and the formation of the nation:  Native American, French, English and American stand underneath an oversized female “Liberty.”  Since its installation the “Liberty Monument” has been recognized as a magnificent piece of outdoor sculpture. (Subject of a future article)

Liberty Monument by Charles Keck

In the Community Building’s lobby Mr. Moses choose to installed another piece art.  On the lobby’s eastern wall there is a three panel art installation of oil and bronze secured into in a shallow marble bordered niche.  The left and right panels, in oil, are scenes from his boyhood, while the center panel is a profile pose of him in bronze.  Two artists were commissioned to render this piece of work:   W. Granville Smith and Charles G. Keck.

Community Building Main Lobby

Community Building – Art Installation

Close up of (L) The Moses Homestead and (R) The Three Brothers

Pictured is the homestead nestled in the Trout Brook Valley* showing the house and barns surrounded by meadows.  In The Three Brothers  mountains’ panel one can slightly see the Hobart Richmond farm tucked at the mountain base on a knoll.  (* Rev. Joseph Cook‘s family farm – Cliff Seat – not shown, was the next farm over to the east from the homestead.  Mr. Moses also recognized Joseph Cook as the person who popularized naming this valley – Lord Howe Valley.)

W. Granville-Smith

W. Granville Smith (1870-1938) – was born at Granville, NY and early in life his family moved to Newark, NJ.  At this place he began his art career in magazine illustration later moving to Europe where he studied in the Netherlands, Belgium and France.  It was at this time in Mr. Smith’s career he began painting landscapes and marine themes in both oils and water colors.  In preparation of Mr. Moses’  commission he visited Ticonderoga in May  1927 sketching local points of interest depicting the historical, commercial and scenic character of the town.

Charles G. Keck

Charles Keck

Charles G. Keck  (1875-1951) – Was born and died in New York City.  His artistic education was at the schools of the Art Student League and National Academy of Design.  For five years in the 1890s Mr. Keck was a studio assistance to the well-known sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens.  His sculptures and architectural reliefs are numerous and diverse in subjects.  Mr. Moses’ first commissioned Keck to render the “Liberty Monument.” ( Mr. Keck also sculptured the Father Isaac Jogues statue, located in Battlefield Park, Lake George, NY.  It was dedicated in 1939.)

Moses Farm by Bruce Mitchell – THS Collection 1990

Bruce K. Mitchell (1933-2018) – Born in Salt Lake City, Utah and graduated from the University of Utah.  For over forty years he lived in Keene, NY and painted scenes throughout the Adirondacks.  He displayed and sold his work at the Hancock House.  The Society has several pieces of his work in our collection.

Hancock House & Liberty Monument

Historical Note:  Mr. Moses regional  building donations were built to provide a specific purpose:  Ticonderoga hospitals health and medical; Hancock House –  historical preservation and interpretation, and,  Valley View Memorial Chapel, non-denominal  religious services.   (Westport, NY, at the fair grounds, in 1924 the Junior Achievement Foundation building. – youth education and development.   Today the Cornell Cooperative Extension Building.)

1/21/19 – wgd

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