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Mildred Barnes ca. 1905 – Photographed at her Home in Sharon, Connecticut

Posted On March 12, 2018 | 14:40 pm | by jamesc | Permalink
James N. Carder (January 2018)

Page of Photographs of Mildred Barnes Gardening at her Home in Sharon, Connecticut. Martha Blow Wadsworth Photograph Collection, Milne Library, SUNY Geneseo.

Recently, the Dumbarton Oaks Archives learned of the existence of early photographs of Mildred Barnes. These photographs were taken by Martha Blow Wadsworth (1864–1934) at the beginning of the twentieth century during her visit to Mildred Barnes’s home in Sharon, Connecticut. The photographs are mounted in an album now housed in the Milne Library at the State University of New York, Geneseo. The Milne Library generously provided the Archives with high-resolution images of the relevant photographs.

Mildred Barnes's House in Sharon, Connecticut, where she lived between 1898 and 1908. Dumbarton Oaks Archives (AR.DP.BL.046).

Mildred Barnes had purchased the house and farm in Sharon, Connecticut, in 1898. When she advertised a long-term lease for the tenant house on the property in 1908, at the time of her marriage to Robert Woods Bliss, she described the property as having approximately sixty-five acres of tillable land, acres of woodland for pasturing purposes, vegetable gardens, orchards, flower gardens, lawns, and a tennis court. In addition to the main house, there was a greenhouse, cold frames, guesthouse, garage, doghouse and kennels, stable, tenant house, cow barn and silo, ice house, barn, machine and tool barn, hen house, and pig sty. She sold the property in 1909.

Page of Photographs of Mildred Barnes and her Property in Sharon, Connecticut. Martha Blow Wadsworth Photograph Collection, Milne Library, SUNY Geneseo.

Martha Blow Wadsworth was a friend of Mildred Barnes, who affectionately called her Duenna (“chaperone”). Martha Wadsworth came from a distinguished St. Louis, Missouri, family, as did Mildred Barnes’s mother and stepfather, Anna and William Henry Bliss. In 1888, Martha married Herbert Wadsworth (1851–1927), and they lived on the Wadsworth estate in Avon, New York. Martha Wadsworth shared many characteristics with Mildred Barnes: she was described as "diminutive with striking red hair, determined and adventurous, and an exceptional horsewoman, talented pianist, and prolific watercolorist and photographer." In 1902, the Wadsworths built a large residence in Washington, D.C., at 1801 Massachusetts Avenue (now the Sulgrave Club). Martha Wadsworth was reportedly intimately involved in the design, execution, and furnishing of the house and listed herself as the architect on the building plans, although the actual architect was George Cary (1859–1945).

For more information on the Martha Blow Wadsworth Photograph Collection at SUNY Geneseo, go here.