The beloved painter, sculptor, and illustrator Frederic Remington was the progenitor of America’s famed school of cowboy art. Remington was not a westerner, however, but an upstate New Yorker, born and buried in the far north country near the U.S.-Canada border, where he gloried in the local hunting, fishing, swimming, camping, and horse riding. His widow Eva was from the same area, and when she returned to Ogdensburg, New York, after her husband’s death, she brought his personal collection of paintings, sketches, bronzes, western artifacts, and private memorabilia with her, along with Frederic’s papers and effects. She tried to offer the Indian-related items to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, but reversed course when she learned that the museum would break up the firearms, clothing, saddles, and other items into separate displays.
Thus did one of America’s great troves of Western art end up in the custody of the Ogdensburg Library in 1915, within a revolver shot of Canada. Local businessmen and philanthropists John Howard and George Hall offered the library $100,000 to erect a proper building to house the treasures, and these two patrons eventually provided the means to have the collection installed in the 1810 home where Eva lived out the end of her life, suitably renovated and opened to the public in 1923. In the years since, locals have continued to generously support the beloved museum, allowing it to add many additional items, and to expand into a second building.
Today, the “benefactors and supporters” page of the Remington Museum’s annual report lists ten full pages of area boosters—hundreds of individual donors plus regional businesses like the Heritage Clock Shop, the Busy Corner Café, and the North Country Savings Bank. Along with an active mix of teas, raffles, BBQs, and replica sales, these local angels sustain a top-flight art collection in a rural New York locale that remains nearly as wild today as it was during the formative years when Frederic Remington rambled its woods and streams.
- John Howard’s history of the Remington Art Memorial, fredericremington.org/photos/custom/history_of_ogdensburg.pdf
- About the museum, fredericremington.org/the-museums-c5.php