The Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire (BHTNH) announced today further expansion of the Trail into Andover, sparked by a gift of a sculpture of legendary contralto Marian Anderson (1897-1993). Created by the renowned Andover sculptor Winslow Eaves (1922-2003), the sculpture will now become part of BHTNH’s permanent collection and will be on display at its statewide headquarters in Portsmouth when it reopens to the public in the summer.
JerriAnne Boggis, BHTNH’s executive director, explained the background of the gift: “Marian Anderson was such an important figure in the struggle for civil rights. She may be most well known for her 1939 concert at the Lincoln Memorial, arranged after the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) refused to allow her to sing at its Constitution Hall. DAR member Eleanor Roosevelt publicly resigned, NAACP leader Walter White suggested the idea of an outdoor concert, and Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes led Anderson to the stage on April 9, 1939.”
It was this concert that was the muse for Winslow Eaves’ 30-inch ceramic sculpture of Marian Anderson. In 2000, the sculpture was purchased from Eaves by Dana Dakin, who made the gift recently to the Trail. Dakin said, “This sculpture has been in my home for the last two decades. The imminent presidential inauguration was the catalyst for my decision to make this gift to the Black Heritage Trail. The sculpture reminds me how deeply Art can make us feel injustice and learn to act. Clearly, Art leads the way in expressing injustice. I felt strongly that the sculpture belonged at the Trail headquarters for all to see, and to have my neighboring town of Andover be part of the Trail is a dream come true.”
Dakin noted that Eaves was the subject of a retrospective of his work presented in 2018 by the Andover Historical Society. The Society is located in the village of Potter Place in the town of Andover. This village is named for, and contains the homestead and gravesite of, Richard Potter (1783-1835), the well-known black magician and ventriloquist of the early 19th century who traveled and performed successfully throughout America.
The convergence of two noted Andover residents — Richard Potter and Winslow Eaves — would allow the Society and the Trail to put a spotlight on the rich African American history of its newest location on the Trail. It is expected that a plaque will be unveiled in the fall of 2021.
Again, JerriAnne Boggis: “It’s our hope that organizations and other municipalities like Andover will come forward and participate in our Statewide Historical Markers Program. They’ve done the research, they are the custodians of Richard Potter’s legacy, they’ve raised the funds for their contribution to the plaque. I’m thrilled that the donation by Dana Dakin of the Winslow Eaves sculpture of Marian Anderson has sparked our next expansion of the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire.”
About Winslow Eaves
Renowned American sculptor Winslow Eaves (1922-2003) committed his life to sculpture — from childhood until just weeks before his death. He studied at the Cranbrook Art Academy in Michigan and the Arts Student League in New York before leaving for Paris to train at L’Ecole des Beaux Arts on a Fulbright grant.
His work has been exhibited at the Metropolitan and Whitney Museums in New York, and in galleries in Manchester, Paris, Boston, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, and Syracuse. Many of his sculptures are on display in public spaces across New Hampshire, his long time home.
Upon taking a teaching position at Dartmouth, he and his wife Faye moved their family to Andover in 1952, where they became beloved members of the community. Known for their warm household, they often hosted parties and social events for other artists and built lifelong friendships with other New Hampshire luminaries. US Poet Laureate Donald Hall (a subject) described Eaves’ cheerful nature as “irresistible,” while noted potter Gerry Williams remarked, “He was one of the strongest members of the artistic community here in the ’50s and ’60s. And Faye’s support was vital to Eaves’ success, connecting him to students and clients.”
It was in that old farmhouse that Eaves built a reputation as one of the finest and most independent-minded artists in New England. Eaves was active in many local art associations, such as the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen and the New Hampshire Council on the Arts.
“In my work I try to create or discover new and interesting relations and a wholeness of form, material, and concept. My aim in life is my aim in art. It is a continual search for a new order; a search for meaningful, artistic, and humanistic relation.” – Winslow Eaves
Statewide Historical Marker Program
The program, which began with the iconic bronze site markers at 24 locations in Portsmouth, is one of the most visible and recognizable Trail programs and is seen as a foundational approach to expanding the nonprofit’s educational work across the state. Organizations and municipalities interested in the program can request an application to begin the process.
Upon completion of the application and its approval by the Trail, BHTNH would cover half the cost of the marker with the applying organization covering the balance. For more information about the Statewide Black Heritage Trail Historical Marker Program and how you can be a part of it, please send an email to Info@nullBlackHeritageTrailNH.org.
Praise for BHTNH
“Sobering and eye-opening, the Black Heritage Trail forces us to question those we have traditionally considered heroes and to elevate those who have been marginalized instead. It squarely centers Black life in early America, at a time when we as Americans need to be rewriting our history to do so.” — Jodi Picoult, New York Times best-selling author, Frommers’ Best Places 2021: Great Authors on Our America.
New Hampshire has an African heritage that dates back almost to the arrival of Europeans. Much of that history centers on the state’s only port at Portsmouth, where the first known (enslaved) black person was brought from Guinea, West Africa in 1645. As many as 700 blacks were here by the Revolution; many were caught up in an active Northern slave market, while others were part of a little-known free society.
Against the odds of early enslavement and subsequent marginalization, Africans and their descendants built communities and families, founded institutions, and served their town, state, and nation in many capacities.
The Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit founded in 2016 to promote awareness and appreciation of African American history and life to build more inclusive communities today. It presents signature events timed to the seasons – Spring Symposium, Sankofa Summer Walking Tours, Juneteenth Celebration, Frederick Douglass Community Readings, Fall Black New England Conference, and Winter Tea Talks.
With recent events, this mission is more important now than ever. For more information, please call 570-8469 or visit BlackHeritageTrailNH.org.