Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios Program Names Three New Sites to Membership

The National Trust for Historic Preservation announced today that three new members have been accepted into their Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios (HAHS) program. All three new members are the preserved homes and studios of significant American artists and are open to the public.

 The three new members of HAHS are:

  • The recently restored home of artist couple Thomas Moran (1837-1926) and Mary Nimmo Moran (1842-1899) on Long Island, New York;
  • The West Palm Beach home, studio and botanical garden of sculptor, children’s book author and arts educator Ann Weaver Norton (1905-1982); and
  • The recently restored and publicly opened home of self-taught and deaf artist James Castle (1899-1977) in Boise, Idaho, where the artist spent most of his life working in a wide variety of media.

The HAHS program is administered through Chesterwood, a site of the National Trust and the former summer home, studio and gardens of America’s foremost sculptor of public monuments, Daniel Chester French.

“These three sites preserve the stories of one of the preeminent painters of the Hudson River School, two formidable female artists, and a deaf artist whose career existed completely outside of the traditional and mainstream,” said HAHS Program Manager Valerie Balint. “Collectively they illustrate the National Trust’s strong commitment to bringing forward more diverse narratives about American cultural legacy.

“Adding these to our consortium continues to advance a broader conversation about how we define our collective art history, the power of place, and contemporary relevance through innovative programming – all seminal to the work of the HAHS network and the National Trust.”

Located in the heart of the bustling village of East Hampton, the Thomas and Mary Nimmo Moran Studio saw a nineteenth-century husband and wife duo pave the way for a future robust artistic community on Long Island. Thomas Moran is counted among the Hudson River School painters, recognized as the first home-grown art movement in the country, and is best known for his sweeping images of the American West, including Yosemite. His wife Mary Nimmo Moran was at the forefront of America’s etching-revival movement.  The home they designed and built was opened to the public last year after a painstaking restoration effort of close to a decade.

“Membership into the Historic Artists' Homes & Studios Program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation marks a pivotal moment for the site,” said East Hampton Historical Society Executive Director Maria Vann. “This National Historic Landmark, home to two significant American artists, was once just one storm away from ceasing to exist. Now, after years of fundraising and restoration efforts, it represents the epitome of the Trust’s desire to protect and celebrate America’s diverse history. We cannot wait to be a part of the noteworthy collection of America’s best artists’ studios and to further share the site with the public.” 

The Nimmo-Moran home will host an HAHS-generated photographic exhibition, which includes 50 images of artists in their studios, from April 20 through July 10.

The Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens in West Palm Beach celebrate the life and career of another pioneering female artist and educator. As her intact studio conveys, Norton worked in both figurative and abstract sculptural forms. She later expanded her creative impulses to include the landscape environs at her home. Near the end of her life, in collaboration with a longtime friend and noted horticulturalist, she designed a magnificent sanctuary garden and secured the long-term legacy of her property. The result is a harmonious blend of art and nature, featuring her large-scale works set amidst rare botanical species.

“We are honored that the home, studio, and gardens of Ann Weaver Norton are recognized among the prestigious organizations within the program,” said Cynthia Kanai, CEO at the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens. “We look forward to opportunities to collaborate with a select group of artist homes and studios throughout the country that commemorate and honor the legacy of the artist in their environment. With this recognition, we are proud to welcome guests to visit Ann Norton’s historic home, studio, and two-acre tropical garden and to celebrate her distinguished contributions to our shared American history and culture.”

Recently saved and restored by the City of Boise, the James Castle House breathes life back into the story of an intriguing and talented Idaho individual, born and raised in humble circumstances, who blazed his own artistic path despite numerous challenges. Castle created a dizzying variety of drawings, bound books, and sculptural constructions within this small family home, using household objects he found on hand as his artistic materials, including string, cardboard and soot.

“We at the Boise City Department of Arts & History are thrilled and honored with our acceptance into HAHS,” said Terri Schorzman, director of the Boise City Department of Arts and History. “To become part of a community that saves these important historic sites – along with the commitment to share them publicly – means so much to us. The intersection of art and history, in our case saving the homesite of Idaho’s best-known visual artist, is the very essence of what we do. And becoming a member of the HAHS solidifies our commitment to uphold high standards of integrity, authenticity, meaning, and interpretation.”

“These institutions, centered around the riveting stories of the ground-breaking individuals who lived at these sites, offer immersive experiences for their visitors and expand knowledge about diverse artistic perspectives,” said Donna Hassler, administrator for HAHS and executive director at Chesterwood. “We are delighted they have accepted our invitation to be part of the program and look forward to working with them.”   

For more information on the new HAHS member sites, see https://www.jamescastlehouse.org/,  https://www.ansg.org/, and https://easthamptonhistory.org/thomas-mary-nimmo-moran-studio-ca-1884/

Image: View from main lawn towards the Norton House and Ann Norton’s Untitled Horizontal Sculpture, 1979, Courtesy Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens