Jerome Connor: America

The Connor family emigrated to Holyoke, Massachusetts, USA in 1888.  Jerome’s life in America was to go through a number of distinctive phases before his return to Ireland in 1925.

Massachusetts and New York City

The Civil War Memorial at South Hadley, Massachusetts, believed to be Connor’s earliest public work: photograph by Bob Lee

In about 1890 Connor’s father died, and Jerome left Holyoke for Springfield, Massachusetts, where he began training as a sculptor.

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Terracotta bust of Elbert Hubbard, 1899, made by Connor at Roycroft

Roycroft In 1899 he moved to Elbert Hubbard’s Arts and crafts colony, “Roycroft”, in Aurora, New York. Using the name Saint Gerome he produced pottery, metalwork and sculpture. He was eventually recognised as the colony’s sculptor in residence. While living at Roycroft he married Anne Donohue, a bookbinder at the colony She was the daughter of a fellow Kerryman. They had one daughter. Syracuse In 1902 the Connors moved to Syracuse, New York, where Jerome became head of the metal shop at Gustav Stickley’s United Crafts factory, manufacturing Arts & Crafts furniture.

Connor working on the Kirkpatrick figures, from "The Craftsman", January 1905, p.469
Connor working on the Kirkpatrick figures, from “The Craftsman”, January 1905, p.469

In 1903 the Kirkpatrick Memorial Fountain in Washington Square Park in Syracuse was commissioned. The general design was decreed in the will of William Kirkpatrick Jr. as:

…a memorial fountain the general design of such fountain to represent or symbolize the Onondaga Indians discovering to the white men the salt springs as related in the historical narrative of the relations of the Jesuits and later by the historian Parkman – I do this to perpetuate the memory of my father the late Doctor William Kirkpatrick and his long relations with the early history of the Onondaga Salt Springs.(2)

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Onondaga Bowman (fragment) 1904

Connor produced two figures, based on models in the local Onondaga Iroquois reservation. He completed them in 1904, and was to continue his association with the Onondaga tribe for many years. The memorials have since been vandalised and removed from the park, but the maquette for the torso of one figure was cast for the Jerome Connor Trust in 1991. At about this time Connor was commissioned by the U.S. Congress to make a memorial to General James Shields.  The bust was erected in St Mary’s Cemetery, Carrollton, Missouri. Shields was an Irish-born army officer who rose to the rank of Brigadier General, served in the Mexican and Civil Wars and was later a Senator for three different states: Illinois, Minnesota and Missouri. 

Bust of General James Shields, Carrollton, Missouri

Washington D.C. In 1910 the Connors moved to Washington D.C.  Much of Jerome’s major monumental work can still be seen in this area.

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Modern bronze cast from 1910 plaster maquette. Part of Jerome Connor Trust collection, on exhibition in Annascaul.

Soon after arriving in Washington, Connor was commissioned to create a statue of Archbishop John Carroll (1735-1815), founder of Georgetown University in the city. The bronze statue was unveiled in May 1912.

Statue of Archbishop John Carroll, erected 1912 at Georgetown University which he founded.
Statue of Archbishop John Carroll, erected 1912 at Georgetown University Campus.

Notes

(1) Jacqueline T Lynch Melzar Mosman – Soldier, Sculptor, and Craftsman (2) Welcome to Syracuse’s First Neighborhood Washington Square

The heart of the Dingle Peninsula: the village of Annascaul lies among mountains, lakes and streams and is surrounded by history and beauty.

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