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Introduction to the Fundraising Letter

Hiram Woodward Place
Hiram Woodward Place

In a shocking discovery, this letter written by RSW's close friend Lawrence Lunt was found in the G.W.V. Smith Collection of the Springfield Museum System. 3 years after his tragic Redgate studio fire and the loss of nearly 50 paintings, Woodward was apparently in dire straights financially. It was sent after the death of Mr. Smith and was addressed to Mrs. Smith, who took over running the museum after her husband passed. Here at the website, we often asked how Woodward afforded the luxury of buying the 9 acre Hiram Woodward Farm just five months after the fire. We never found any evidence he was insured at Redgate. There is some testimony that friends and family helped him purchase the place but we do not know to what extent.


It was also well documented that Woodward took on a major restoration of the old farm which continued throughout the entire time he lived in the home. Furthermore, he barely exhibited any paintings from 1923 until the last month of 1926. What's more is we have very few records of any paintings being painted at this time.


Dr. Lawrence Lunt and his wife
Dr. Lawrence Lunt and his wife

We asked ourselves, "How did he support himself... how did he afford to live?" As we learn from the letter, Woodward suffered an illness during that time but it does not say how long or how serious an illness. It does state he has recovered fully. He was making only half his monthly bills at the time. The fundraising effort was looking to raise enough money to cover his expenses for two years so that he could get back on his feet. It was pitched as an investment in a proven artist.


A committee of go-to RSW friends was formed to oversee the administration of these funds. A number of them had helped bring him to Boston in 1910 to study art at the Museum of Fine Arts School, such as Minnie Eliot, Joseph Cowell and Lunt himself.


Mrs. William Henry Ada Moore
Mrs. William Henry "Ada" Moore

The letter is important for more than the information it provides us. We believe it may be the link to the entrance of Ada Moore as Woodward's patron. Shortly after the receipt of this letter by Mrs. Smith, Moore would establish a trust to cover Woodward's expenses for his nurse and attendant. She would also buy him a car and supply him with cars for the remainder of his life. Upon her death, Moore had a trust in place to continue the care of Woodward who would die two years after her.


The Smiths were world-renoun art collectors as was Mrs. Moore and what's more is they shared many similar interest, particularly in the work and antiquities from the Far & Middle East and Asia. In fact, Mrs. Moore would exhibit a portion of her collection at the Smith museum in 1940 and we have a letter from Woodward expressing to the museum's director his intent to come to the museum to see it. It is also worth noting that Mrs. Moore had an "invalid" brother who, Moore expressed in a letter to Woodward in 1931 after his passing that he, "suffered for a long time," giving Moore, perhaps, an added incentive to help Woodward.




So please go on to the NEXT PAGE to read and view the letter that probably changed Woodward's life as a professional artist...


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