Heirloom paintings showcase Winona History

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016
 Assistant director Jennifer Weaver shares an explanation of her favorite piece in the Preserved in Paint gallery in the Historical Center Society on Friday. The piece is named Portrait of Clara Blair 1915, by Nicholas Brewer. Jennifer liked the lifelike qualities of colors and shadows in the portrait. She explained that it is nice to see a colored painting from the past to know that their world was just as colorful as ours. (Photo by Taylor Nyman)

Assistant director Jennifer Weaver shares an explanation of her favorite piece in the Preserved in Paint gallery in the Historical Center Society on Friday. The piece is named Portrait of Clara Blair 1915, by Nicholas Brewer. Weaver liked the lifelike qualities of colors and shadows in the portrait. She explained that it is nice to see a colored painting from the past to know that their world was just as colorful as ours. (Photo by Taylor Nyman)

Michaela Gaffke / Winonan

The Winona County Historical Society is showcasing “Preserved in Paint,” catching a glimpse into the history of Winona through paintings.

The oldest piece dates back to 1833 and the newest is from 20 years ago, creating a variety to see in the collection.

Some of the paintings in the collection have not been on display at the museum yet and the Historical Society wanted to highlight them. 

Many of the paintings are portraits of prominent figures such as Catherine Goddard Smith, who ran a boarding house and was revered by the citizens as “Aunt Catherine.”

William F. Phelps, an education pioneer and textbook author to prepare students for a career in education, has one of his paintings on display. Phelps served as President of Minnesota State Normal School, now known as Winona State University, in 1864, and ultimately had a building on campus, Phelps Hall, named in his honor. 

Charles Maybury’s portrait was also shown. Maybury was one of the architects that designed the Winona County Courthouse, all the public school buildings, St. Stanislaus Church and other churches and chapels.

It is art telling the history of Winona, Assistant Director of The Winona Country Historical Society, Jennifer Weaver said.

Weaver’s favorite painting is the one of Clara Blairs in 1915 because of the realism and colors of the painting.

“Each of these paintings tell their own stories as artifacts and art,” Weaver said.

Art is growing in popularity among visitors of Winona. They are able to learn about the history of Winona through the art pieces.

The paintings are from family donations in the area and the families are able to come visit the portrait if they would like. People donate them because they see the value in sharing them with the public and don’t often have a place for them in their homes, according to Weaver.

Paintings of the historic station where the Amtrak is now situated were included, also the Levee, the Stockton Roller Mill, Pickwick Mill and Sugar Loaf among others.

“People don’t realize what has gone by in the places around town and how much history is there,” Weaver said.

“Preserved in Paint” is on display until October 30 and available to view 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during weekdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. The collection is free to the public.

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