The Hormels greet visitors to the HHH

Now that all the Christmas decorations are put away, I am rediscovering many items that are on display year round.

Lillian Hormel.

Lillian Hormel.

I will be looking into the history of many of these items in order to build on the stories that we already share with our guests.

If you have entered the Hormel Historic Home through the Fourth Avenue entrance there are many features that might draw your attention instantly, such as the width of the front door, the rich woodwork, or the marble fireplace. But you might have also noticed the large 39 by 29 inches portrait prints of our two most famous inhabitants: George and Lillian Hormel.

We are fortunate that the Mower County Historical Society has graciously loaned these pieces to the HHH as this seems an appropriate home for them. Sue Doocy, research and archives manager, recently provided me with some information on the history of these artworks.

The original paintings were created by artist and portrait painter S. (Stephen) Seymour Thomas, likely in February, 1933. The original oil portraits were later photographed by Judd Photography Studio which was a longtime photography studio in Austin, Minnesota. At least two prints were made from these photographs and these prints are what sit atop the bookshelves in the HHH library.

Thomas was born Aug. 20, 1868, in San Augustine, Texas, the son of James and Mary Thomas. He attended Art Students League in New York from 1886 to 1888 and studied under William M. Chase and Carroll Beckwith. From there, he traveled to Paris where he attended Julian Academy and Ecole des Beaux Arts from 1888 to 1890, the student of Jules Lefebre and Benjamin Constant.

He married Helen H. Haskell in London on Oct. 11, 1892 and the couple lived in Paris, often spending their winters in New York.  In 1915 they moved to La Crescenta, California, which is in the Los Angeles area.  The Hormels probably came into contact with the artist during their retirement years in Bel Aire.

Other notable figures painted by Thomas include Cardinal William H. O’Connell; chemists Dr. Arthur Noyes and Dr. Fredrick Moores, both from Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Hon. James (Lord) Bryce of the National Life Club of London; President Woodrow Wilson and astronomer Dr. George Ellery Hall of the National Academy of Science in Washington, D. C.

 Social Concerns

10 a.m., Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015

Austin Aspires is a spin-off of Vision 2020, formed to meet the goals of Educational Leaders’ vision. Jennifer Lawhead, executive director, will discuss the full cradle-to-career education system in our community.

This is a free event. Free childcare will be provided for this event but we must know in advance.

Please call 507-433-4243 to register.

Austin Wedding Showcase

Noon to 3 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015

$4 per person

 Midwinter Musical

3 p.m. Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Featuring Sam Stacy on guitar and MarySue Hormel Harris on piano. Come hear these Hormel family members share their musical talent at a free concert in the Historic Home living room. Enjoy coffee and cookies following the performance. Please call 507-433-4243 to reserve a seat.

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