Crocker Portrait to Hang in Selectmen's Room
The town's Historical Commission has decided to hang a recently-donated Uriel Crocker portrait in the Selectmen's Meeting Room of Abbot Hall.
Although the Historical Commission originally decided to hang the portrait in the building's second-floor auditorium, it was announced at a Selectmen's meeting Wednesday night that it would end up across the room from The Spirit of '76.
Crocker's great-great grandson, Tuck Crocker, of Westport, Conn., donated the portrait as a gift to the town in November.
"It is with great pleasure that my family and I donate a portrait of Uriel Crocker, my great-great grandfather, who was born here in Marblehead in 1796," Crocker said at the meeting.
Crocker was born on Franklin Street in what later became known as the "The Old Picket House" and is famous for being a co-partner in the Crocker & Brewster printing business. The company's runaway best seller was a version of the Scott's Family Bible, the first large book ever printed in stereotype.
Later in life, Crocker became active in the railroad industry, eventually playing a part in the formation of the Trans-Continental Railroad. He is also well-known for donating Crocker Park and raising $40,000 to build the Bunker Hill Monument in Boston.
"We think this is the right place for him, here in Marblehead, where he was born," Crocker said, adding, "He looks like he will be in good company here and we look forward to visiting him regularly."
The portrait was done by world-famous European artist Hubert Von Herkomer in 1886. Unfortunately, Uriel Crocker never got the chance to see it completed. Crocker said his great-great grandfather posed for the painting at the age of 90 in 1886, died in 1887 and it arrived back to the United States in 1888.
The portrait has been maintained by the family ever since - and although Crocker said the Peabody Essex Museum was interested in the piece, they ultimately decided the town should have it.
"If you look at him in the painting, you'll notice he has a little twinkle in his eye, and I'm convinced the twinkle is because he gets to live here tax free," Crocker said when he donated the painting, drawing a laugh from the Selectmen and those in attendance.