You may have read that there is a new occupant of CSU's Office of Research: a 19th century portrait of George Howe, the original owner of the Millionaire's Row mansion that is now Parker Hannifin Hall. The oil painting, by Chester Harding, a prominent 19th century portrait artist known for his paintings of several U.S. presidents, was donated to the University by Innis Howe Shoemaker in memory of her grandmother, a descendant of Mr. Howe.
This all seems entirely fitting and reasonable, but it actually took several years of work to bring George home, and the Library's Bill Barrow was instrumental in making it happen. Bill, our Head of Special Collections, was approached several years ago by Mrs. Shoemaker, a curator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. When Mrs. Schoemaker told him she was interested in donating the oil painting, he was of course immediately interested.
But how best to use it? The portrait could not be considered part of the University Archives, since it had never belonged to the University. Bill felt that it somehow didn't quite belong in Special Collections, either, if a more fitting and public location could be found. He reached out to the current occupants of George Howe's old home, and found them to be enthusiastic about the idea. Reassured that George wouldn't end up in some basement storage facility, Bill accepted the donation on behalf of the University.
It took some time to find the ideal location in the old Howe mansion: somewhere prominent yet reasonably secure. Dr. Jerzy Sawicki, Vice President for Research, provided just the spot in the Office of Research. When it turned out that the painting needed cleaning, restoration, mounting, and labeling, funding was secured and our neighbors at the Bonfoey Gallery brought the painting back to life. George Howe's likeness is now beautifully displayed in the Office of Research, PH 205, and there are plans to install a reproduction above the fireplace on the first floor in the near future.
Welcome home, George.