Home Away from Home
After the American Civil War, industry began to wane in Cornwall. The introduction of railroad service enabled families to move away to secure their futures while returning to Cornwall regularly to visit family and friends.
Lydia Maria Brewster Hubbard is a perfect embodiment of this trend. Hubbard, taught at the Cream Hill Agricultural School during the American Civil War and afterward married Rollins Hubbard. After their marriage Hubbard went with her husband, in 1877, to Toledo, Ohio. There Hubbard began taking art lessons from a young Canadian artist James Henry Moser. When Hubbard’s cousin Martha Ingersoll Scoville traveled to Toledo from Cornwall Hubbard encouraged her to take lessons with Moser as well.
One afternoon during her art lesson Moser proposed to Scoville. Scoville, did not then answer Moser but kept on painting. When Scoville left Toledo to return to Cornwall, she left Moser, with his question still unanswered. Moser took this as a sign of hope and took it upon himself to travel throughout the United States making a name for himself and becoming an accomplished artist. Moser and Scoville were married in Cornwall, in 1883. They would on and off live in Cornwall, and regularly visit for the remainder of their lives, during which Moser would paint many Cornwall landscapes.
Moser is not the only artist that Lydia Maria Brewster Hubbard brought into the Cornwall community. Hubbard met Ben Foster while at the National Academy of Design in New York City. Foster became on the many friends that Hubbard would invite to Cornwall during the summers. During Foster’s visits, he and Hubbard often traveled around Cornwall painting en plein air. After several summers Foster purchased a home on Fox Road and, following Hubbard’s lead, began inviting artist friends to Cornwall to pain the countryside.
In 1917 Foster invited George Gardner Symons to his home in Cornwall to paint. The result was “The Further Hills Seen Through a Veil of Evening Light.”
Like Moser, Besozzi, and Beecher found Cornwall as a home and an inspiration in adulthood. Charles Besozzi, who grew up in Torrington, met his future wife, Mabel Locke of Cornwall, while working at the Warren McArthur Group in Bantam during World War II. After the war they were married and moved to Cornwall to be near Locke’s hometown of Cornwall. Besozzi didn’t start painting until he was in his forties, and was self-taught. He was intrigued by topics of American history, which comprise the subject matter of most of his major pieces.
Also self-taught was William Ward Beecher, who after winning an art contest while stationed in England during World War II, felt confident enough in his artwork to maintain art as a career. Though Beecher came to Cornwall as an adult, he was descended from the same Beecher line that had lived in other towns of Litchfield County. Beecher is best known for his trompe l’oeil paintings and his paintings of light. After the July 10th tornado, in 1989, that destroyed Cornwall’s Cathedral Pines, Beecher memorialized the famous Tree on the Rock, in his painting July 9, 1989.
The Scoville, Gold, and Calhoun families started what we know today as the Cream Hill Lake Association in 1891. In the beginning, the founding families granted swimming access to the lake to their friends and neighbors through informal agreements. Cornwall writer Samuel Scoville, Jr., an avid swimmer, was known to swim across the lake and back at least once a summer from the age of twelve into his sixties. Lydia Maria Brewster Hubbard also frequented the lake with her visitors, as did the Mosers. By 1910, the original boathouse required extensive repairs, and a formal association was formed. As the years went on, in addition to the Cream Hill Lake Association, a Yelping Hill Association beach and a Cornwall Beach were added along the perimeter of Cream Hill Lake.