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Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Judge's Corner: Mary Gertrude Mead and Her Gift to Vassar (Excerpt, 1931)

Source: The Greenwich Press. Thursday, January 29, 1931.

Sixty years ago a beautiful young lady lived in the Frederick Mead homestead, then standing on the corner of Putnam Avenue and Milbank Avenue. The streets then had other names. They were Main Street and the "road to Davis Landing," sometimes called "Love Lane." The house built in 1856 has been moved farther down Milbank Avenue and is unchanged except that by the change of location it has surrendered its former Sound view.

Merry Gertrude Mead was the only daughter of Frederick Mead, a wholesale tea merchant and of the son of Dr. Darius Mead of Putnam Hill, who so long and so faithfully served the people of Greenwich as their much beloved family physician. Fred Mead, Jr., whom so many other readers remember, was her eldest brother graduated from Yale in 1869. His sister's graduation at Vassar took place the following year. She was much devoted to astronomy as taught by Maria Mitchell of Vassar. And she installed an expensive telescope in the upper story of the homestead.

After her graduation we saw less of her. She wrote a story published by Charles Scribner in which were depicted many of the local rural scenes of the period. She traveled abroad and made lengthy stops in London, England, which, by the way, happened to be her native country. And finally she married the famous artist, Edward A. Abbey, who created with his brush in the Boston public library, the much admired "Search for the Holy Grail."

Now she comes into notice again as the giver of a memorial fund to Vassar College. The interest on this fund which is not new has been devoted to the botany department of the college and has made possible the establishment of the Dutchess County Botanical Laboratory, in which plants are arranged according to societies rather than families and where more than 600 plants and trees, out of a possible 2,000 varieties in this country, have already been procured. These facts appeared at a dinner last month at the Alumnae House, which was the scene of a gay assembly.

Thus it is that the money and the generosity of the original Greenwich stock have their share in the establishment and maintenance of many worthy public objects.

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