When the name Hamilton is mentioned in the context of Fort Wayne history, we tend to think of the famous female cousins – Agnes, Edith, Alice, Norah, and sometimes Jesse, but most are less acquainted with their cousin, James Montgomery Hamilton. James (1876-1941) was the son of Allen and Cecilia (Frank) Hamilton. Though his name is not as familiar, and details of his life are less known, his generosity and devotion to his boyhood home left a lasting mark on Fort Wayne and on our Museum.
Surprising things often turn up in our archives, and the story of the first Director of the Fort Wayne Art School & Museum is one of those. When Theodore Thieme, president of the Wayne Knitting Mills, gave his home on Berry Street to the Fort Wayne Art School in 1921, he mandated some conditions before the transfer of his property could occur. One condition was that the Museum would become a formal part of the institution, others described the new board, constitution, and memberships, and, finally, it was agreed that the school would have a Director. Until then, the Board of Control had recruited an array of instructors, but had not appointed an executive. Now, with the added responsibilities of the Museum, a large endowment, and growing enrollment, it was necessary that the school and museum have a leader.
There are three small faded black and white photographs in the archives of the Walter E. Helmke Library at PFW that record a colorful bit of Fort Wayne history. So why include one of these obscure photographs in the FWMoA blog?