Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Wheelock Succession in Chairs

In addition to the presidential portrait that each member of the Wheelock Succession sits for during his presidency, the College has another tradition for honoring its former presidents: a mahogany Chippendale-style chair with a seat cover worked in needlepoint, showcasing a variety of symbols representing the president and his administration. No two seat covers are alike nor are the stories and accomplishments behind the symbols. The Ticknor Room in Rauner Library has recently become the new home of fourteen of these chairs after they spent many years serving as the dining room chairs in the President’s House.

The idea for the chairs began with Mrs. John Sloan Dickey in 1958. Using designs created by John Scotford '38 for the first twelve presidents (with the help of the College Archives), Christina Dickey worked the needlepoint covers over a period of twelve years. She completed the twelfth chair, honoring her husband, in 1970, the year of his retirement from the presidency.

The tradition has been carried on with the newest addition of a chair honoring the 16th president of the College, James Wright. The needlepoint for the Wright chair was worked by President and Mrs. Dickey's daughter and granddaughter. That chair, coupled with the chair of Dartmouth's 15th president, James Freedman, is currently on display in the Treasure Room in Baker Library.

To see the chairs of the first fourteen members of the Wheelock Succession and to study the key to the symbols on all sixteen chairs, come to Rauner Library and ask to be directed to the Ticknor Room and to see Rauner Iconography 1282.

Photos: James Wright Chair by Joe Mehling '69; Ernest Martin Hopkins Chair by Jon Gilbert Fox

No comments :

Post a Comment