Abolition Hall, the neighboring barn, and the Maulsby House together form a historical focal point in Plymouth Meeting. While the surnames at this property have varied – from Maulsby to Corson to Hovenden to Wilson – all are related through the generations by birth or marriage.
Pictured above is “The Last Moments of John Brown” painted by Mr. Thomas Hovenden at his studio in Abolition Hall in about 1884. Mr. Brown was hanged for his leadership in the attack on a military armory at Harpers Ferry, now a community in West Virginia. (In 1859, the counties now in West Virginia were still part of the Commonwealth of Virginia.) Among the goals of Mr. Brown was to arm area slaves and begin a war against slavery. The painting can be seen at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in the City of New York.
Activities at Abolition Hall were very much part of the efforts to end slavery and protect human beings as they sought freedom from bondage.
But Abolition Hall has also served as – and even today, serves as – a studio for artists that have helped enhance America through art.
Among works of art produced at Abolition Hall are ones on display at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in the City of New York, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Woodmere Art Museum, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum as well as the Washington Memorial Chapel at Valley Forge and an office building of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg.
The artwork includes oil paintings on canvas, limestone reliefs, and pieces of art in an open-air setting.
Today and for more than 30 years, Ann Hopkins Wilson and Roy Wilson have utilized Abolition Hall as their art studio. Their efforts have continued a tradition of creating art in this modest building since the years after the American Civil War. This husband and wife each have a work of art in the “Art of the State: Pennsylvania 2018”. According to a news release from The State Museum of Pennsylvania, this is “an annual juried exhibition that has been showcasing the work of Pennsylvania’s artists” at the museum since 1968.
“Hawk Circle” was created by Ms. Ann Hopkins Wilson, an artist living in Plymouth Meeting. This artwork is one of the finalists for the “Art of the State: Pennsylvania 2018”.
“Spirit Wind” was created by Mr. Roy Wilson, an artist that uses Abolition Hall as an art studio. This artwork is one of the finalists for the “Art of the State: Pennsylvania 2018”.
A large work of art – “Susquehanna Dawn” – created by Mr. Wilson can be seen in front of the Rachel Carson Office Building in Harrisburg.
This piece of art was painted from a copper plate by Ms. Martha Maulsby Hovenden in 1939. Ms. Hovenden was the daughter of Thomas Hovenden and Helen Corson Hovenden. The library that serves Whitemarsh Township is named after the man pictured in this artwork, Mr. William Jeanes. For years, the library was located on the grounds of the Plymouth Monthly Meeting and managed through the care of the Plymouth Friends.
This is the “Declaration of Independence Tablet” at the Washington Memorial Chapel in Valley Forge. Ms. Martha Maulsby Hovenden created this limestone panel in 1926. The Washington Memorial Chapel is the home of an Episcopal parish and is located inside the boundaries – but independent of – the Valley Forge National Historical Park.
This is the “Framers of the Constitution Tablet”, also located at the Washington Memorial Chapel in Valley Forge. Ms. Martha Maulsby Hovenden created this limestone panel in 1936.
“Martha Hovenden and Her Dog” was painted by Ms. Helen Corson Hovenden in 1888. Her daughter posed for the portrait. This painting is at the Woodmere Art Museum.
This painting, called “The Concert”, was created by Ms. Helen Corson Hovenden in about 1890. The painting is part of the art collection at the Woodmere Art Museum in the Chestnut Hill neighborhood of Philadelphia.
In 1890, Mr. Hovenden of Plymouth Meeting painted “Breaking Home Ties” at his studio at Abolition Hall. You can view the original painting today at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
The initial news column included the painting “Still Life with Fan and Roses”, pictured above. This painting was created by Mr. Hovenden in 1874. This was prior to him using Abolition Hall as an art studio. “Still Life with Fan and Roses” is at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, District of Columbia.
The initial news column also included the painting “Jerusalem the Golden”, pictured above. Mr. Wilson was able to confirm that this painting was created by Mr. Hovenden in 1893-94 while Mr. Hovenden maintained a temporary studio in Washington, District of Columbia. This painting can be seen at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in the City of New York.
The image of the painting at the Smithsonian American Art Museum is courtesy of that museum.
The photographs of “Hawk Circle” and “Spirit Wind” are courtesy of The State Museum of Pennsylvania, 2018.
The photograph of “Susquehanna Dawn” is courtesy of Mr. Roy Wilson, 2018.
The photograph of the William Jeanes piece of art is courtesy of the archives of the Friends of the William Jeanes Memorial Library, 1939.
The photographs of the two limestone reliefs at the Washington Memorial Chapel are courtesy of BoringHistoryGuy through Wikipedia, 2016.
The images of the two paintings at the Woodmere Art Museum are courtesy of that museum.
The image of the painting at The Metropolitan Museum of Art is courtesy of that museum.
The image of the painting at the Philadelphia Museum of Art is courtesy of that museum.
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© 2018 Richard McDonough