November 18, 2009

“If I ever do take up charity, I intend to do it, and not half do it”

Amelia Peabody (1890-1984) was a noted sculptor having studied under Charles Grafly at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and with such important artists as Bela Pratt and Edmund Tarbell, as well as in New York City and Paris. She commissioned a solar studio in her home and would sculpt her whole adult life. Her impressive work was exhibited widely, including at the New York World’s Fair (1939 and 1940), the Whitney Museum of Art, and locally at the Boston Athenaeum.
Amelia Peabody was the daughter of Gertrude Bayley Peabody (1859-1937) and Frank Everett Peabody (1856-1918,) who was graduated in 1877 from Massachusetts Insitute of Technology. Her grandfather Francis Peabody was associated with the banking house John E. Thayer & Brother with his brother Oliver White Peabody, and in 1865, Francis Peabody, Henry Purkitt Kidder, and Oliver White Peabody formed Kidder, Peabody & Co., and later her father was to become a partner. She was said to have “created a life-long reputation in her own right, not only for her artistry, but also for her philanthropy, patronage of the arts, civic leadership, love of animals, and equestrian pursuits.” She created two charitable foundations that after her death continue her benevolence to a wide spectrum of worthy charities.
Following World War I, Amelia Peabody began buying farmland in Dover, Massachusetts, where she was to devote herself to horse riding and animal husbandry. Over the next six decades, she acquired adjoining parcels of land, eventually forming an eight hundred acre estate that she called "Mill Farm" where she generously invited the public to share her many agricultural and conservation interests. Miss Peabody developed bridle paths throughout the lands she acquired for both herself and the Norfolk Hunt Club. By the end of World War II, she had acquired a herd of Hereford cattle and a number of Yorkshire pigs, the best specimens of which she entered in livestock shows throughout the region. Her immensely popular “Field days” for pig farmers and cattle breeders were frequently held at her farm. For many years, she was the Chairman of the Arts and Skills Service of the American Red Cross, which promoted art therapy for wounded servicemen during World War II, and continued to promote art therapy for hospital patients of all kinds after the War.
The Peabody Lot is set in a dense grove of evergreen trees at the junction of Lime and Chestnut Avenues, and is marked by a huge Roxbury puddingstone boulder with the family name unobtrusively carved on the front.

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