February 27, 2010

John Reece

John Reece (1854-1896) was the president of the Reece Buttonhole Machine Company in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1881 Reece invented and received a patent for a “Button Hole Sewing Machine” that revolutionized hand sewing with a machine that increased production and standardized the size of the buttonholes. Reece lost his life when he was killed trying to save an employee in his factory, who was in danger of being crushed by a moving elevator. Reece lunged for the elevator rope, hoping to stop the elevator, but missed the cord, falling to his death.

The Reece Family Monument on Spruce Avenue was sculpted by William Ordway Partridge (1861-1930) a prominent sculptor who had studied under Pio Welenski in Rome. In his studio on Milton Hill, a town just south of Boston, he was to model a heroic seated statue of Shakespeare that was erected in Chicago, and busts of famous Americans. Lee Lawrie was to work as a studio assistant to Partridge in the late nineteenth century.

The Reece memorial is in the form of an exedra, an elliptical bench with a high back, decorated with a bronze wreath and a seated bronze of John Reece that is set on an attractively landscaped corner lot.

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