A friend won a box lot containing a scrapbook and several nondescript three ring binders at an auction recently. He only wanted the scrapbook, but invited me over to go through the binders with him. To echo my teenager's comment, "cool!"
The binders were created in the early 1920s by Mary Hunter Bean, who took art classes at two separate Pennsylvania schools. Each binder contains a plethora of information recorded by Bean from lectures she attended. They also contain thoughtfully placed newspaper and magazine clippings which enhanced her studies.
Within the binders, Mary included information about various classical artists and their individual styles, as well as studies of architectural elements, furniture, and even costumes. The binders could simply be dismissed as any schoolgirl's efforts and truthfully, the significance of this find did not hit me until I was editing this article.
Later in her life, Mary Hunter Bean and her husband Richard Anders Rogers (1903-1967) inhabited one of Pennsylvania's historic homes--the Daniel Hiester house. In recognition of its historical authenticity, the home was purchased by the Montgomery County Lands Trust in 2012 to both preserve its heritage and share that heritage with the public for many generations. I like to believe that is due to the Rogers' family efforts, particularly those of Mary Hunter Rogers nee Bean, that the house retained its authentic features. The realization that these notebooks and her studies probably served as guides for keeping the house true to its origins only hit as I was editing this article. Thank you for bearing with me.
According to information found on Geni.com, Mary Hunter Bean was the daughter of Theodore Lane Bean (1878-1943) and Sarah Bean (1879-1908).1 Mary H. Bean was born on August 20, 1904 in Norristown, Pennsylvania where Theodore Bean practiced law and served as the town's burgess. Additionally, her father was the family genealogist.2 Mary Bean followed in her father's footsteps and became a family historian, one with an appreciation and understanding of history and art. In her adult life, she joined many organizations which furthered these interests, but even from an early age she received an education which strengthened her talents.
As a teenage girl, Mary attended the Shipley School in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. The notable school was founded in 1894 by three Quaker sisters, Hannah, Elizabeth, and Katharine Shipley whose intent was to create a preparatory school. During Mary's time the school was building a reputation for excellence which even continues today. Four of the binders kept and labeled by Mary indicate she attended Shipley from at 1920-21, although she probably attended the school for a longer term.
One of the notebooks contains a message from her teacher admonishing Mary for not completing her work (see left). Mary apparently overcame any difficulty for a simple note found at the beginning of the final binder for the 1921 school year indicates she graduated as student that would be missed. It reads, "Mary I like exceedingly the way these books are marked The printing is so nice and clean I am so sorry this is your last year". Written by an unknown hand, the note is transcribed verbatim.
An additional five binders also have labels written in Mary's hand. These labels indicate she attended the School of Industrial Art in Philadelphia. That esteemed school enjoyed its beginnings during the Centennial Exhibition in 1876 and is counted among America's oldest art schools. The School of Industrial Art was divided and has since become the University of the Arts and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Dated 1923-24, these binders intimate Mary attended then, but she had probably started school directly after graduation from Shipley. Two binders are not labeled or marked with dates, but were kept with the others and obviously belonged to Bean. The page numbering system used by Mary does not help to fit either binder into the Shipley or SIA years, so their date is unknown, but the subject matter is similar.
While attending the School of Industrial Art Mary met Richard Rogers. After marriage, the couple moved into the historic Daniel Hiester house in Sumneytown, Pennsylvania.3 Undoubtedly, Mary's studies suited her well and she made the home her own. The binders and the research might have originally served as senior class or graduation projects, but I like to think they became useful after she and her husband moved into the Rogers-Hiester house and Mary referred to them when necessary. Considering authenticity of the house was sound, it would appear the family held true to the structure's origins.
Although some of Bean's binders and studies suffered from water damage through the years, they were preserved together and relatively intact. Except for the water damage they only suffer the expected wear of binders and papers that are roughly 90 years old. This suggests Mary or her family viewed them with some importance. Until her death on January 10, 1997, Mary continued to be involved in her home, the surrounding community and cultural affairs.
As stated before, the home recently sold the home to the Montgomery County Lands Trust. Because of its historical significance and authenticity, the 1757 home and 78 acres, will be preserved. The house was built prior to the first official map of Pennsylvania commissioned in 1759 and due to efforts made by its owners, such as Mary, the home has retained many of its original features--including its hardware. (For information about the house and the project, I have included links below.) Due to copyright I cannot post the notebooks in their entirety (don't I wish?), but I have posted more pictures below as well as developments with the Rogers-Hiester home. Best, Pat
A video of the house, watch here: http://www.montgomerynews.com/video/?va_id=3329690&pl_id=22554&ref=synd
Lands Trust Needs Help to Secure Historic Rogers/Hiester Property by Brian Bingaman.
Updated: The Montgomery County Lands Trust has now joined forces with Natural Lands Trust. This is a link to the 2013 Spring/Summer issue of their magazine, The Magazine of Natural Lands Trust, Inc. which includes an article on the Rogers-Hiester property.
Rogers-Hiester Property: Colonial History and Natural Resources Conserved Keystone Fund. Note: I learned from this article that the Rogers family had owned the property since 1930.