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 Charles E. Mills  (1856 - 1956)

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Lived/Active: Massachusetts/Pennsylvania / Europe      Known for: stained-glass design, landscape, portrait, mural and still-life painting

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Charles E Mills
An example of work by Charles E. Mills
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
Biography from Butler Institute of American Art:
From an unsigned biographical sketch of Charles Mills :

Charles E. Mills was born in Pittsburgh, Pa., January 29, 1856 and died December 2, 1956 in Dedham, Mass.  After one year in Allegheny College, he went to Europe in 1878.  There he joined the Duveneck School and studied in Germany and Italy.  He returned to the United States and set up a studio in Boston.  He later spent a year in Paris and again maintained a studio in Boston.  In 1888 with his sister and mother, he took up his residence at 63 School Street in Dedham and moved his studio to a block in Dedham Square.

Mr. Mills was a portrait painter, muralist and landscape artist as well as a designer and worker in stained glass.  His work can be found in the stained glass windows in Memorial Hall, Harvard College and in Trinity Church.  His bibliographical murals of Benjamin Franklin in the Franklin Institute are well known.

The following concerns Mills' life aside from his work as an artist :

In 1920 I bought the duplex house in which Mr. Mills and his sister, Ellen, lived at 63 School Street.  We moved into #61 - 5 children, mother-in-law, father and mother. The Mills had lived there since 1888, the year I was born.  It was not long before we adopted the Mills and they adopted our family.  They often said that they regarded our children as their own relatives.  As the years went by and they became more feeble, my wife assumed the responsibiltiy for their welfare.  Mr. Mills' eyesight failed, and he gave up his studio in 1946.  He was able to get around but could not paint or read.  He loved flowers and kept a flower garden until he was 98.  His sister fell and fractured her hip in 1952, and was obliged to enter a nursing home.  Mr. Mills had his meals with us until 1954 when he could no longer live alone.  He entered the same nursing home as his sister and died December 2, 1956.  His sister lived three years more and died in 1959, aged 101.


Mr. Mills kept his mind until death. He went to sleep one night and never awakened.

Mr. Mills was long a familiar and colorful figure in Dedham and was held in affectionate regard by all who recognized his Van Dyke beard and formal dress.

The Mills are buried in Allegheny Cemetery, Pittsburgh. The cemetery was once part of the farm of his grandfather, who was was in business in Pitttsburgh about 1804.


Biography from Dedham Historical Society:

CHARLES E. MILLS, born in Pittsburg, PA, January 23, 1856, died in Dedham, Massachusetts, November 2, 1956, was a nationally noted artist and muralist, and achieved fame as the designer of the stained glass windows in Memorial Hall, Harvard College, and in Trinity Church, Copley Square, Boston.   He maintained a studio in Boston as well as Dedham, and lived at 63 School Street in Dedham with his sister, Ellen Mills. 

He was a noted portrait painter, muralist and landscape painter, and a skilled designer in stained glass.  A number of Boston buildings are decorated with his work, especially noted are the biographical murals of Benjamin Franklin in the Franklin Technical Institute.  His paintings hang in local Dedham buildings, including the Dedham Public Library and the Dedham First Unitarian Church, with the most extensive collection at the Dedham Historical Society, with which he was involved.  He painted many portraits of doctors, judges and educators as well as many local Dedham landscapes.  He designed bookplates and created and redesigned patterns for the Dedham Pottery.

Mills was graduated from Alleghany College, Meadville, PA.  He traveled extensively in Europe after his graduation in 1878, and studied for 10 years on the continent, including Germany and France and at the Duvaneck School in Italy.


He was a resident of Dedham for 48 years, and is buried in the Forest Hills Cemetery


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