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 Margaret Sarah Lewis  (1907 - 1979)

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Lived/Active: Pennsylvania      Known for: Teaching, painting, graphic and decorative arts

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Margaret Sarah Lewis
An example of work by Margaret Sarah Lewis
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Following is an introduction by Jim McClure, Editor of the York Daily Record, Sunday News, York, PA March 24, 2011 followed by text in a blog by Terrence Downs. The comments pertain to a Margaret Sarah Lewis painting, First Moravian Church of York, Pennsylvania.

This Margaret Sarah Lewis painting shows York, Pa.'s, First Moravian Church. This is another in a series on the church and its J. Horace Rudy stained glass windows.

York County City Schools' educator Margaret Sarah Lewis (1907-1979), who painted this scene, was profiled in AAUW's Legacies, Remembrances of York County Women. "Her work was exhibited in various local, state and national shows including New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh, Baltimore and in other major cities when traveling abroad in the U.S.," "Legacies" stated in 1984 ? .
Terry wrote:
"..upon this rock I will build my church.. Matthew 16:18.? First Moravian is recognized when seen in the frontal aspect. This painting shows it has evolved through 143 years - the portrait created by York artist Margaret Sarah Lewis shows First Church's appearance of the 1940's. This painting kept in a vault is now visible; Miss Lewis' detail of emulating the glass patterns of the large West windows are shown as crafted by the Rudy Studios of this City.?

Aspects of this lost art now found show the progress of the building and church, for the large 1910 windows are in place that replaced the original frosted glass panes with wood muntins (1 unit yet survives on the building's North side). Designed in1868 by Edward Havilland, the structure was painted since its erection, moving from a sand-color to a grey scheme with brownstone appointing in 1910, giving the building a less Italianate - more English appearance, as many of York's downtown churches kept like character.? The two large trees were part of the 1868 site, being removed as was the painted brick to expose natural brick - a look reminiscent to York's Colonial period in a renaissance of the 1950's.  Large electric iron lanterns from Variety Iron Works adorned the portico, replaced in 1973 with Colonial-period gas-styled lamps.

What deviates from Miss Lewis' painting is the absence of the intricate iron fence & gate along Duke Street, shown as a privet hedge. Also of interest is a rock pile at the left side - the rocks removed from the original 1755 Gemeinhaus which was the first Moravian Church west of the Susquehanna River - and also the first stone Church building in York Town. Only one of these rocks remains at the Church. The home at left was the Parsonage to the church, now is Church offices and ancillary operations. The residence turned offices at right was demolished in 1980 when the current structure for a local Attorney office was built - and larger in size diffusing light to the south side of the church sanctuary.?

Margaret Sarah Lewis (1907 - 1979), as shown in her signature, is the artist of the oil paining on canvas stretched over masonite, and local lore has it that she painted it from location of the bay window in the McClellan home at 36 North Duke which also served to house the York Chapter American Red Cross, and today is part of C. S. Davidson Engineering. Who may have commissioned Miss Lewis to produce this work is unclear, or any affiliation to First Moravian Church.?

Miss Lewis, well respected regionally in medium of a water color artist was employed by the York City School District as a Supervisor of Art and elementary art teacher; she resided at the stately Frysinger Building at 42 West Market Street in the 1940's, where her apartment also accommodated an art studio. It is not certain the dating of the painting but may be from the 1930's or '40's. She was the niece of Samuel S. Lewis, who started an illustrious career as Postmaster of York, led various State Departments in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, including State Auditor General, the Secretary of Highways, Secretary of the Department of Forests and Waters, and voted Lieutenant Governor from 1939-1943, with Republican Governor Arthur James.

Miss Lewis remained in teaching capacity to the City School System well into the 1960's.

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Margaret Sarah Lewis was a prominent York, PA artist and educator. She was born in York PA in 1907 and died in 1979 and is buried in Prospect Hill Cemetery in York. The daughter of Melchinger Oliver and Sarah Jane Lewis, she began her art studies at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and graduated in 1929. 

Upon graduation she received the European Traveling Scholarship. She also received a B.S. and M/A. degrees from Columbia University in 1941 and 1942, respectively. She attended a summer session at Claremont College in California to study watercolor and portrait painting under Millard Sheets. She also studied with Charles H. Martin, James Chapin and Charles Walthers.

Starting in 1929 Miss Lewis taught art and was art supervisor for the York City School District and retired in 1963.  After school hours she taught at the York YWCA, the York Junior College,  the Adult Education and her alma mater MICA.

Upon retirement Miss Lewis became chairman or co-chairman (1963-1972) of the Art Teacher Education Department at MICA.

From 1931 to 1958 Miss Lewis exhibited at many local, state and national venues including the Martin Library in York PA, Pennsylvania Academy of FA, Penn. State University, York Art Club (prize, 1956), American Federation of the Arts and MICA. Her works can be found in the York County Historical Society, Ferguson School at York City School District, and the First Moravian Church in York PA.

Submitted by Robert Constant from information received from the Martin Library in York, PA and from other general art references.

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