49 State Street, Brockport, NY
Mount Hope Cemetery Rochester, Monroe County, New York, USA
Helen Mary or Merwin Hastings (December 25, 1871 – June 3, 1953) was an American painter, a student of Cecilia Beaux. She was best known in Brockport as one of the active participants in the founding of the community's Seymour Library in the home of her uncle, James Seymour.
She was born on Phelps Avenue, Rochester, Monroe Co, NY on December 25, 1871 to Albert Merwin Hastings (1829-1885), head of the Rochester Paper Mill, and Eveline Seymour (1832-1917). Eveline Seymour's father, James Seymour (1791–1864), helped found the village of Brockport. Hastings and her mother moved to Brockport around the turn of the XX century, after the death of her father, and lived with the Seymours. Hastings studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art from 1898 to1904 under some of the leading artists of the day, including portraitist Cecilia Beaux and impressionist William Merritt Chase. She also studied at Drexel Institute of Art, Science and Industry with illustrator Howard Pyle.
Helen Hastings lived in the Seymour mansion at 49 State Street, Brockport, until her uncle's death. He bequeathed the home to the village and Hastings helped plan the conversion of the building into a library. She was in charge of collecting historical documents and exhibit material for the musuem room in part of the library. The library is now the Emily L. Knapp Museum of Local History.
Helen Mary Hastings passed away on June 3, 1953, in Rochester, Monroe, New York, United States.
In 2016 a dust-covered trunk in a storage room of the village of Brockport’s Emily L. Knapp Museum of Local History was discovered containing 105 oil paintings and 135 illustrations by Helen Hastings. The woman who made the discovery, Sue Savard, published a book called “Helen Hastings’s Art In A Trunk.” The works are now available for viewing permanently in the Helen Hastings’ Gallery within the museum.
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