Alice Faith Willard, daughter of Mason and Aurelia Coomes Willard, was born in 1866 and was a lifelong resident of Longmeadow. When she died in 1946 at nearly 80 years old, her estate was worth more than $600,000. Her passport is among the items donated to the Historical Society, and it shows her to be a world traveler well into her 60s.
She lived at 260 Longmeadow Street and sold part of the family property in 1941 for what later became Warren Terrace. She was a graduate of several art schools, and taught art in Longmeadow and Hampden schools. A newspaper article from the Springfield Republican on May 22, 1894 describes a "Public Day" celebrating the schools on "Old Longmeadow Street." It mentions "notable among the exhibits of school work was that of the pupils in free-hand drawing under the direction of Miss Alice Willard. This is the first year that drawing has been systematically taught in the Longmeadow schools, and the results are of a very promising character."
She never married, and in 1999, a family member donated dozens of pieces of her artwork, among them pencil or charcoal sketches, watercolors and oils. Her subject matter was mostly what was in her immediate surroundings: people she knew, local landscapes and flora. She drew scenes in Forest Park, Longmeadow and Mount Holyoke. She painted flowers, trees, landscapes and still lifes. Her skill drawing people was quite amazing--she drew children, the elderly, women in fancy hats, marble statues and nudes. What would Victorian Longmeadow have thought of that?
Contributed by Betsy McKee, Board Member, Longmeadow Historical Society
Originally published August 20, 2020