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 Alice Leczinska Lowe Ferguson  (1880 - 1951)

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Lived/Active: District Of Columbia/Maryland      Known for: western subject, landscape painting

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Ad Code: 4
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
"THE CLARK FARM NEW HOPE"
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Alice Lescinska Lowe Ferguson, wife of Henry Gardiner Ferguson, was a dynamic, creative artist who trained as a painter at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C. When Alice and Henry Ferguson bought Hard Bargain Farm in 1922, little did they imagine that it would become a place where children from the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area would come to learn about the environment, agriculture and history. The purchase of Hard Bargain Farm changed the course of Alice's life as she transformed it into a unique, remarkable center that is still alive with the mark of her creative touch.

Hard Bargain Farm, initially a 130-acre plot of land along the eastern banks of the Potomac across from historic Mount Vernon, included an old farm house, farm structures, rolling hills, fields, woods and streams in relatively untouched, undeveloped condition. The Farm became Alice’s passion. While it became a place where the couple would bring their friends and entertain them, it also became the place where Alice developed her creative forces as a painter, architect, garden planner, writer, amateur archaeologist, environmental conservationist and philanthropist.

In the 1930s, Alice Ferguson initiated archaeological investigations along the farm's shoreline. Her discoveries, together with those made later by archaeologists from the Smithsonian Institution and the University of Michigan, provided evidence that this area had been occupied by Native Americans for more than 10,000 years. In 1966, these findings resulted in the designation of the Accokeek Creek Site as a National Historic Landmark.

Alice was responsible for taking the first step toward protecting the area’s natural landscape and preserving the beauty of the land and the open space across from Mount Vernon. With foresight and wisdom, she purchased hundreds of acres of neighboring land and sold it to conservation-minded individuals who began building homes in the area. Later, this community was formally established as the Moyaone Reserve, and its residents fought to protect the Potomac shoreline from industrialization in the 1960s by accepting deed covenants through the U.S. Department of Interior, which limited tree cutting and road building and prohibited commercial development. In support of the community, the Alice Ferguson Foundation donated all of its riverfront land to help establish Piscataway Park in 1968.

Upon Alice’s death, Henry Ferguson established the Alice Ferguson Foundation in her memory in collaboration with the Moyaone Association. It was officially chartered in Autumn of 1954, with bylaws created by three local community members: Louise North, Mary Thornhill and Nancy Wagner. The charter members imagined creating a foundation that fostered and supported the local education system. This vision has led the organization to become a vibrant education center that thousands of citizens enjoy annually.

Source:
Alice Ferguson Foundation
http://www.potomaccleanup.org/aff_history.shtml

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The daughter of a Navy Admiral, John Lowe, and mother, Josephine Lowe, Alice Leczinska as a young woman took advantage of her father's retirement and settlement in Washington DC to study art and music at the Corcoran School of Art. 

Subsequently she met Henry Gardiner Ferguson, a Harvard educated geologist for the U.S. Geological Survey, and they married in 1914.  From that time until the mid 1930s, she was active as a painter and recorded images from their many trips, which usually were his field assignments into the western United States.  Destinations included Arizona, New Mexico, California and Colorado, and among her painting titles were Santa Barbara, Long's Peak, Tucson and A New Mexico Sky.

In 1922, the couple bought property called "Hard Bargain Farm" in Accokeek, directly across from Mount Vernon and overlooking the Potomac River.  At first it was a vacation retreat, but when a prehistoric village was discovered on the property, it became a big time commitment and their permanent home.

Abandoning her efforts as a serious fine art painter, Alice gave major time between 1935 and 1939 to overseeing the excavation, which was thought to be the site of the Moyaone (or Moyoane) Indian Village in Accokeek visited by Captain John Smith, during his early explorations of North America.  Alice wrote papers and books on the native Piscataway Indians, and she and her husband had a museum built on the property to preserve the unearthed skeletons and artifacts.

A recent source states that while the site is probably not the one described by Captain John Smith, it is nonetheless still important. In 1966, the Accokeek Creek Site was made a National Historic Landmark.

Sources:

Phil Kovinick and Marian Yoshiki Kovinick, An Encyclopedia of Women Artists of the American West

Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accokeek,_Maryland

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