When the walls tells us the past

Published 7:01 am Sunday, July 26, 2015

There are many days I walk through the Hormel Historic Home and say “I wish these walls could talk …”

As I look at some of the artwork and the story boards, I realize that in a way they do speak. Our story panels share the history of the Hormel family members who lived here and some who did not. They tell a little about the Hormel Company and they show a glimpse of the family life led by the Hormels.

Much of our artwork also reveals a little of the past. A painting that hangs at the top of the stairwell has an identification plate that reads “Presented by The Art and Travel Club.” I do not know much about the painting itself as there is no artist signature, but the Art and Travel Club is significant in that it was started by George Hormel’s sister, Lizzie.

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Lizzie, having moved to Austin around 1895 with her parents, taught art classes. She and a group of art lovers started meeting monthly in each other’s homes to discuss various art topics. In 1940, she wrote to Gertrude Skinner and described how the original group of art enthusiasts added travel to their discussions in 1903.

“…having exhausted this subject [art] and all being fond of travel, we thought it would add great interest to include travel also, and thus was born the ‘Art and Travel Club.’ I can only recall the names of three ladies who, with myself, were present at that first meeting, Mrs. Lyman Baird, Mrs. H.A. Avery, and Mrs. F.O. Hall.

When we added travel to our course of study, we decided on the large cities of our own country, beginning with New York City with its wonderful Metropolitan Museum of Art and other objects of interest. At about this time we decided to write papers and so took up our work in earnest as a club. Then we crossed the ocean. I recall vividly the splendid papers on the cathedrals of England, the great art galleries of Rome, Florence and Paris. Some of my treasured memories are of those days.”

Lizzie was 82 when she wrote this and she concluded the letter to Skinner with praise for the group who continued the organization forward. Among the collections of the HHH are club yearbooks through the year 1989. I do not know if the organization continued meeting after that year, nor do I know when the painting was presented to the HHH. If anyone can help me continue the story of the Art and Travel club I would love to hear from you.

 Free Garden Concert, Matra Percussion

6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 4

A unique percussion quartet performing original compositions, arrangements, percussion ensemble repertoire and more. Matra at its core consists of vibraphone, marimba, table and drumset.

 Choo Choo Bob, free program

2 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 5