×

Column: Preserving the legacy of sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens

  • Saint-Gaudens' sculpture "Standing Lincoln" is on display at Chicago's Lincoln Park. (Andrew Horne photograph)



To the Valley News
Friday, April 05, 2019

In 1885, the world-renowned sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens sought to escape the brutal heat of New York summers while he completed a commissioned sculpture of President Abraham Lincoln for the city of Chicago. Promised by a friend living in New Hampshire that the Granite State has many “Lincoln-shaped” men he could use as models, Saint-Gaudens chose the small town of Cornish as his place of refuge.

Today, his estate — with its historic architecture, American art, landscapes and trails — stands as one of the Granite State’s most treasured landmarks. It is for this reason that in 1964, Congress designated the home of Augustus Saint-Gaudens as the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site. The estate offers a remarkable pairing of the natural beauty of the Granite State and the incredible art that resides on its grounds. Through activities including hikes and sculpture classes, the site provides a unique cultural experience to the thousands of tourists who visit the Upper Valley each year.

In turn, the tourists who visit the site help to spur business in the area and contribute to the overall Upper Valley economy. There are plenty of activities around the estate for families to take part in, from visiting a historic covered bridge, to strolling down Pleasant Street in Claremont, exploring Lebanon, Hanover and more.

The Upper Valley has a great deal to offer visitors, and many have found Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site to be a truly satisfying day activity that is both educational and beautiful.

In an effort to grant this special site the recognition and distinction it deserves, we introduced legislation to re-designate Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site as a National Historical Park to better distinguish Saint-Gaudens’ contributions to art and history and to reflect the expansion and updated use of the grounds. And we are pleased to say that as part of a larger bill to promote conservation across the country, our bill was signed into law.

In the past decade, the scope of the site has expanded to include multiple historic buildings, a vast collection of American art, and a variety of arts programs and activities. The efforts made by the staff and caretakers of this historic landmark to improve visitors’ experiences and promote the art and culture that define the site were crucial in awarding the estate this updated title.

More than 100 unique pieces of art by Saint-Gaudens reside on the premise, but one of the most recognizable is a replica of the Shaw Memorial, a sculpture Saint-Gaudens created for the city of Boston. The sculpture honors Robert Gould Shaw, a celebrated Army colonel and leader of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, the first African American regiment in the North during the Civil War.

This impressive sculpture is one of many that Saint-Gaudens crafted during his career and exemplifies how his work serves as a poignant and physical reminder of America’s history. We as a delegation are honored to have played a small role in immortalizing the legacy of this brilliant artist as well as in protecting the physical environment that aided in his craft, helping to preserve it for future generations of visitors.

To learn more about Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park, visit nps.gov/saga/index.htm.

Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan represent New Hampshire in the U.S. Senate. Annie Kuster represents New Hampshire’s 2nd Congressional District in the U.S. House