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In the early 20th century, the Library Trustees, convinced of the importance of forming a collection of contemporary American art, set a high standard for acquisition. The Trustees were patrons of the arts, philanthropic supporters, and collectors, but their primary contribution was the transmission of ideas. They identified the visual arts as a form of education, social reform, and civic improvement. Many works of art were purchased with funds from a legacy gift left to the Library in 1905 by Tewksbury lawyer John Davis. With support from the Davis Fund and with the generous contributions of many Lowell citizens, the Trustees build a collection that defined visual culture in the most democratic of settings.

The Pollard Memorial Library Foundation is grateful to the numerous donors who made this restoration, preservation, and documentation effort possible. We look forward to the permanent installation of the collection for the enjoyment of current and future generations of our patrons.

Ground Floor

Neal, David
“Venezia”, Venice, oil on canvas 34″ x 42″

David Neal (1838-1915) was born in Lowell at the corner of Branch and Middlesex Streets. He left Lowell when he was 15 years old to study painting in New Orleans and San Francisco. In the late 1860s, Neal toured Italy following four years at the Royal Academy in Munich. The Rialto is the oldest bridge that spans the Grand Canal in Venice. Like many of his contemporaries, Neal was inspired by the city’s brilliant light and transparent shadows. Neal’s portrait and study for the First Meeting of Mary Stuart and Rizzio, 1876, are in the collection of the Whistler House Museum.

Purchased by donations from Mr. Neal, Mr. Ogden Mills of N.Y., Mr. Warren Coburn of Lowell and the Library Trustees in 1911.

Before Restoration After Restoration

Located at the Grand Floor Landing of the Grand Staircase – Merrimack Street Sidewalk Entrance

“Edith Nourse Rogers
Proclamation”, 26″ x 19″

Edith Nourse Rogers was a dynamic daughter of Lowell dedicated to veterans’ affairs. In May 1942, the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) legislation was drafted and sponsored by MA Congresswoman Edith Nourse Rogers (R-Lowell). That groundbreaking legislation is significant because it allowed American women to serve in the US Army during WWII, albeit without official status and benefits. Later during the war, in July of 1943, at the request of the Department of the Army, Congress approved the WAAC to officially become the Women’s Army Corps (WAC). The creation of the WAC ensured American women serving in the US Army received official military status and benefits equal to those of their male US Army counterparts. The Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial VA Hospital in Bedford was named in her honor. In early 2012, Massachusetts Governor Duval Patrick signed the proclamation honoring her life and legacy as a Republican congresswoman.

Located on the Grand Staircase between the Ground and First Floors.

Marble and Bronze Memorial Plaques

At the Dedication of Memorial Hall in 1893, Major Charles A. Stott suggested that “tablets be placed on these walls bearing the names of our soldier dead, so that the names of Butler, Abbott, Roche, Crowley, Follansbee, Sawtelle, Lamson, Murkland, Mumford, Perkins, Farr, Hart, Shipley, Wright, Fiske, and the hosts of others who were killed in battle or died from disease, may be preserved, and that their devotion to country may stimulate the present and future generations to that loyalty which possessed the men of 1776 and 1861.” Originally located on the walls of Memorial Hall, these tablets were restored after the fire of 1915 and the names of those Lowell men sacrificed in the Spanish-American War were added.


Thomas O. Allen plaque C Henry Warren Howe plaque Albert Pinder plaque

Memorial Hall Tablet

Located on the Grand Staircase walls from the Ground to the Third Floors.
Due to the fact that the marble plaques are very reflective, it is difficult to capture them on photo. Please visit to see them in person when the library is open. 

Floor 1

George, Vesper Lincoln

The Art of Printing“, decorative lunette or painting on glass, 103″ x 60” represents Gutenberg in his printing office receiving a visit from a nobleman and his wife to whom he is explaining his invention of movable type.

The Textile Industry”, decorative lunette or painting on glass, 103″ x 60″. The four figures symbolize the most important divisions of the textile art – spinning, weaving, dyeing and designing. The costumes and accessories are of the 15th century.

Donated in 1899/1900 by Joseph Coram. Located in the front lobby on the Merrimack Street entrance.

Howes, Samuel P.

Washington at Dorchester Heights” , 1845 oil on canvas, 72″ x 96″
This painting is an excellent copy of Gilbert Stuart’s famous work (which is owned by the MFA, Boston).

On display in this location since 1911, the painting was a gift to the library from Dr. William G. Ward. It was severely damaged in the 1915 fire. Federal funds supported the first restoration in 1977. The 2020 restoration was made possible with a gift from Rosemary Noon and Paul Marion in memory of Mary Foley Noon and Richard E. Noon, Esq., as well as with funds provided by the Pollard Memorial Library Trustees and the Pollard Memorial Library Foundation.

On Grant Staircase leading to Floor 2.

Biography of Samuel P. Howes (1806-1881) – All biographical information was gathered by Catherine L. Goodwin and Paul D’Ambrosio.

Samuel P. Howes was born in 1806, likely in Plymouth, Massachusetts. As a young man, he began divinity studies but changed his career to painting and moved to Boston in 1829. He lists his occupation in the Boston city directory as “painter” and his residence at Lewis Wharf. He moved frequently from 1831 to 1834.

Howes arrived in Lowell in 1835 and started a portrait studio. At that time, Lowell was a growing industrial city and there was less competition for artists than in Boston. The first account of Howes’ arrival in Lowell appeared in the Journal and Weekly Bulletin dated September 23, 1835. In this ad, Howes states his intentions of “stopping in this town for a few days” to paint full-size likenesses for $10 to $30 each and miniatures ranging from $6 to $25. On October 21, 1835 he gave notice in the same newspapers that examples of his work could be seen “at his room #4 Central opposite the Washington Hotel.” Subsequent ads gave notice of his move to the Mansur building at the corner of Central and Lowell Streets. In 1845, the Lowell city directory indicates his studio is located at 112 Merrimack Street, a location Howes would occupy for the following 34 years.

Howes was extremely successful for a ten-year period, but after 1845 he began to paint a variety of non-portrait subjects to support his family. In the 1860s, Howes painted several famous American icons including Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant, and General William T. Sherman.

Howes died in Lowell of peritonitis on February 25, 1881. Information regarding his later life comes from several published obituaries, two of which cite his involvement in landscape painting, a scarcely documented aspect of his painting career. Howes most likely continued to paint portraits up until the time of his death. A notice in the September 3, 1879 issue of the Vox Populi announced that he had just completed a portrait of John A. Knowles, former President of Appleton Bank.

Howes’ works are represented in collections of several local New England institutions, such as the Whistler House Museum of Art in Lowell, the New Hampshire Antiquarian Society in Hopkinton, New Hampshire, and the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts.

Lawson, Thomas Bayley

Thomas Bayley Lawson (1807-1888) was the founder and first president of the Lowell Arts Association, establishing the first art association in the United States in 1878. Born in Newburyport, he moved to Lowell in 1832. His studio was located at the corner of High and Andover Streets. In 1844, he was commissioned by a group of Lowell “Whigs” to go to Washington and paint Daniel Webster, who was Acting Secretary of State at the time. Webster tried his early cases in Lowell. This portrait became his most famous and he copied it many times. In 1845, Lawson opened a studio on Shattuck Street, now the location of the New England Quilt Museum. He painted the portraits of most of Lowell’s influential residents and many of Lowell’s early politicians.

“Daniel Webster” (standing) oil on canvas, 17.5″ x 26.5″

Bequeathed by Elizabeth Lennon Lawson in 1959 in loving memory of his son, Walter Uhler Lawson.

Located on the Grand Staircase First Floor Hallway

Audubon Prints

The Lockwood Edition of Birds of America, reissued by J.W. Audubon, Roe Lockwood & Son, Publishers, NY. Chromolithography J. Bien NY 1858-1860. 97 Plates 26.5″ x 38.5″. Each plate was encapsulated in polyethylene plastic (Mylar) in 1976 by the New England Document Conservation Center and later individually framed and hung in the library.

This edition was reported acquired in the 1880 Annual Report of the Lowell City Library.

These prints are located in the Community Meeting Room, Ground Floor and First Floor patron spaces. They are on a rotating basis to guarantee their preservation. 

Dube, Helen F. 
Samuel S. Pollard“, Mayor 1956-1959, oil on canvas,

The name of the City Library was changed in 1981 in memory of Samuel S. Pollard whose political career spanned four decades beginning in 1941. “We might rightly refer to him in the future as Mr. Lowell” praised a solemn City Councilor Raymond F. Rourke, master of ceremonies at the dedication. The name of the library was changed to the Samuel S. Pollard Memorial Library.

There is a Lowell tradition to display the portraits of the city’s mayors in City Hall. In spite of a long history of civic engagement, Pollard was reluctant to sit for his portrait. The painting was commissioned posthumously by Pollard’s close friend Edward Sullivan, who spent nearly 50 years as clerk of the courts for Middlesex County. The artist, Helen Dube, was from Hamilton, MA.

Located in the First Floor Newspaper section.

Tarbell, Edward C. 
Elizabeth Stearns Davis”, oil on canvas 21″ x 27′
John Davis”, oil on canvas 21″ x 27″

The portraits of the Davises by Tarbell are in Foster Brothers frames, a firm in Boston whose designs are characterized by simplified, refined ornament. Recognizing the incongruity of presenting a freehand painting in a machine frame, Foster Brothers emphasized the explicit textural surface of their carved areas and employed water gliding to achieve long-lasting variations in color and tone.

John Davis was a lawyer from Tewksbury who died in Lowell on March 11, 1902. His will provided that after certain bequests were made “all the rest, residue, and remainder of my estate. I give, devise, and bequeath the same to the Trustees of the City Library of Lowell, located in Memorial Hall on Merrimack Street in said Lowell.” From 1905 through 1926, the Trustees used the Davis Fund to purchase paintings and prints.

Commissioned by the Library Trustees in 1905 to honor these two benefactors. Acquired in 1907.

Located in the First Floor Audio Visual Area.

Ipsen, Ernest L. 
Frederick W. Stickney“, Architect of Memorial Hall, oil on canvas 36″ x 60”

Frederick W. Stickney, architect of the Library, was a Lowell native who studied architecture at the Boston Institute of Technology. He designed public and private buildings in Chicago, Cincinnati, and New York City. He was the architect for the Moody School and an early building for Lowell High School, which was torn down. Ernest L. Ipsen (1869-1951) was a popular portrait painted in New York and exhibited his work with John Singer Sargent.

Donated by Mr. Stickney, 1918
Located outside the First Floor Circulation Office.

Kanzo (attributed to)
Imari Vase, Glazed porcelain with gold overlay, 63″ x 25″
Circa 19th century Japan, 25 Genroku Hanami Odori dancers perform the Flower Festival Dance, illustrating the different costumes of the Genroku Period (1588-1703). The Vase was exhibited at the 1893 Columbia Exposition and the 1901 Pan American Exposition, and, later at the Paris Exposition.

Imari Jar Image

Donated by Freeman Ballard Shedd, 1909
Located at the landing on the Grand Staircase between the First and Second Floors

Floor 2

Howes, Samuel P. (possibly, see note below)
Abraham Lincoln”, oil on canvas

“Shortly after the assassination of Lincoln in 1865 the Lowell City Council purchased two portraits of the late President to be hung in the Common Council room and over the mayor’s chair.” from Samuel P. Howes: Portrait Painter by Goodwin, Catherine L. Lowell, MA: Whistler House Museum, 1986.

Located on the Grand Staircase in the Second Floor hallway.

Lawson, Thomas Bayley

Daniel Webster” (bust) oil on canvas 27″ x 34″

Acquired in 1860 by the Middlesex Mechanics Association, donated by Dr. John C. Dalton

The donor of the three-quarter portrait, Dr. Dalton (1794-1864), was a well-respected physician who began his practice in Chelmsford and moved to Lowell in 1831. He lived and worked in Lowell for 28 years before moving to Boston. He is buried in the Lowell Cemetery.

Incorporated in 1825, the Middlesex Mechanics provided relief for “unfortunate mechanics and their families,” promoted inventions, offered lectures, and maintained a library reading room for its members until its dissolution in 1896. Their library formed the basis of the Lowell Public Library.

Located on the Grand Staircase Second Floor Hallway.

Spencer, Mark
Mary Johnson-Lally”, photograph, 24″ x 29″

Mary Johnson-Lally was Director of the Pollard Memorial Library from 1995-2003. It was under her leadership that the Library underwent major renovation to make it the “jewel” of the City of Lowell.

Commissioned by the Library Trustees 2005. Located in the hallway of the Director’s Office.

Norcross, Charles
Hugh Downey“, City Librarian, oil on canvas 21″ x 27”

The Board of Trustees commissioned in the artist in 1969. In 1970, the portrait was presented to the Library “in recognition of Hugh Downey’s lifetime of dedication to his work.” Hugh Downey was the City Library Director from 1943 to 1969.

Located in the hallway of the Director’s Office.

Hibbard, Aldro T.
Brook in the Snow“, oil on canvas, 25″ x 30”

Aldro Hibbard (1886-1973) is known for landscape paintings of his home in Rockport, Massachusetts, the New England coastline, and the Canadian Rockies. He studied at Boston’s Museum School, where he was a pupil of DeCamp and Tarbell. Hibbard drew inspiration from the winter landscape. The Whistler House Museum of Art has a wonderful collection of Hibbard’s snowscapes and coastal scenes. He produced a large body of work during a long career, much of it concerns with sensitivity to light and shadow.

Acquired by committee in memory of Clara Beard, Assistant Librarian for 42 years. Located in the Director’s Office Room 219.

Guttman, Marisha
Harriet Farley”, oil on canvas, 17″ x 20″

In 1838 at age 25, Harriet Farley left Atkinson, N.H. and became a “mill girl” in Lowell. She was soon contributing articles to the newly formed Lowell Offering, a literary magazine that grew out of a church “Improvement Circle.” In 1842, Harriet left the mills to co-edit the magazine. During the summer of 1845, she was criticized by her former friend Sarah G. Bagley for not taking a stronger position on labor reform and for acting as “the mouthpiece for the corporation.” Harriet’s defense was that the Lowell Offering was a literary magazine, created to show that working women were respectable and had dignity, and was not a labor reform publication. The Lowell Offering ceased publication shortly after this debate. It was revived in late 1847, as the New England Offering, with Harriet as both editor and publisher.

In 1854, she moved to New York City to marry John Intaglio Dunlevy, an engraver and inventor. It is interesting to note that the painting was purchased for the Library from a Miss Alice Dunlevy of New York City. Her relationship to John Dunlevy is unknown.

Purchased from Miss Alice Dunlevy of New York 1926. Located in the Director’s Office Room 219.

Memorial Hall

Philippoteaux, Paul
Battle of Shiloh“, oil on canvas, mounted on plaster 15′ x 25′
Lee’s Surrender at Appomattox“, oil on canvas, mounted on plaster 15′ x 25′
Seige of Fort Donelson“, oil on canvas, mounted on plaster 15′ x 25′

Purchased from the Griffin Amusement Company May 10, 1916, these 3 Civil War paintings depict important experiences in the career of General Ulysses S. Grant. Paul Philippoteaux, a French-born artist, is best known for his painting of the Cyclorama of Gettysburg displayed at the Gettysburg National Battlefield museum.

Siege of Fort Donelson Battle of Shiloh Lee’s Surrender at Appomattox

Located on the Second Floor in Memorial Hall.

The eight commemorative windows in Memorial Hall were destroyed in the 1915 fire. They were reproduced at a cost of $1,375 and restored in 1994. The large center window on the west wall is titled “Call to Arms.” The stained glass panes consist of opalescent glass and antique glass where hand painting with vitreous paint is present.

Large Stained Glass - Memorial Hall


E Pluribus Unum

Located on the Second Floor in Memorial Hall.

Unknown at this time.
Bunker Hill Roll Call

Bunker Hill Roll of Honor

Located on the Second Floor outside of Memorial Hall.

Plasschaert, Henry F. 
Terra Cotta Friezes

Three commemorative terra cotta panels depict four military men surrounding the City seal. Twice the City Hall Commission had ordered the panels changed, the first for military accuracy and the second time for “inappropriate” facial expressions. Tradition holds that Stickney, or a much angered craftsman, created in the granite face caricatures of the City Hall Commissioners. One of the cavalrymen also held a bronze bugle in his hand which has since been lost.

Located on the Merrimack Street side of the exterior of the building.