Thursday, September 06, 2007

Tiffany Postage Stamp Recalls Friendship with Ellsworth

This summer the U.S. Postal Service issued a first class stamp honoring the noted artist of the early 20th century, Louis Comfort Tiffany. The new postage stamp features a stained glass window, not unlike the magnificent windows in the Wade Chapel at Cleveland's Lakeview Cemetery, where Tiffany's splendid work can be experienced.

WRA benefactor James W. Ellsworth (1849-1925), was himself a noted collector and connoisseur, and his wide circle of artist friends included Louis Comfort Tiffany who published a limited edition volume in 1914, called The Art of Louis Comfort Tiffany. Only 492 copies of this beautiful book were printed, and one of them (copy 91) was acquired by Mr. Ellsworth. On the fly-leaf of the book is inscribed: "To James W. Ellsworth, Esquire, with the best wishes of Louis C. Tiffany, June, 1916." This book is housed in the Archives and will be featured as part of a Treasures of Western Reserve Academy walking tour on Sunday, October 21, 2007.

Pictured above: An image of the Tiffany stamp and a portrait of "Tiffany among the Flowers" painted by the Spanish artist Sorolla in 1911 which appears in The Art of Louis Comfort Tiffany. Tiffany is portrayed at his summer home on Long Island, surrounded by masses of his favorite flowers and in the company of his dog.

Greek School Had Its Origin with 1863 WRA Alumnus

It was a pleasure meeting Nancy Birk of Kent, my first visitor of the new academic year. She is the retired university archivist of Kent State University, now serving as archivist at the American Farm School in Salonika, Greece. She had wondered whether WRA Archives had anything about the Rev. John Henry House, the missionary/educator who founded the American Farm School in 1904. Our records held several clippings and articles including some from a 1935 Reserve Record where he was saluted at 90 as the school's oldest living graduate.

John Henry House '63, born in 1845 and raised in Painesville, came to our campus in 1862 as a student in the Preparatory School (now WRA). He excelled as a baseball player and Latin scholar. Rev. House went on to the old college, graduated in 1868, and was ordained a few years later. He spent most of his career as a missionary and teacher working in what are now Turkey, Bulgaria, and Greece.

Settling in Salonika in 1894 while it was still part of Turkey, he founded the Agricultural and Industrial Institute, a secondary school with a large farming component, and served as its principal and president. The campus was largely modeled on WRA's campus and remains today a private, independent school with a board of American trustees.

Rev. House was awarded the Golden Cross of the Saviour, Greece's highest honor for his contributions to education and agriculture. One article hailed him as "an Olympian farmer," appropriate since his school is only a few miles from the place where Philip of Macedon engaged Aristotle to be the teacher of his son, Alexander the Great.