Today’s blog is meant to provide a context for understanding Juliette Gordon Low’s two best friends, Abby Lippitt Hunter and Mary Gale Carter Clarke. You will meet these good women in just less than one month, when Juliette Gordon Low: The Remarkable Founder of the Girl Scouts is published. One thing that is different about my book is the emphasis I place on women’s friendships in Juliette “Daisy” Low’s life, especially her life-long friendship with Abby and Mary. The bond of loving-kindness that held the three together despite distance, time, and radically dissimilar life paths served as a constant source of inspiration for Daisy. The closeness of their friendship and the fun times she shared with them when she was young surely played a role in her decision to commit to Girl Guiding.
I wrote a lot in the book about Abby and Mary, but not as much as I would have liked to. In future, I’ll fill in some of the background information on both women. For today, I thought it would be helpful to look at Abby’s childhood home and the house where Mary lived after her marriage. They are both historic sites, and, like Daisy’s own birthplace and the Low Home, you can go visit them.
These spaces matter because Daisy spent considerable time there. She created memories in those locales, and they drew her back all throughout her life. They shaped her in the way that geography does. Seeing them helps to visualize Daisy’s life and allows a better understanding of her. So, here’s a look at the Lippitt Mansion and Hyde Hall.
The Lippitt Mansion in Providence, Rhode Island, is where Abby Lippitt grew up. Daisy and Mary both visited the Lippitt family and enjoyed tobogganing and ice skating in the winter and clam bakes and boat races in the summer. Daisy loved excursions with Abby’s extensive network of Providence friends and the outings with Abby’s glamorous brother Charles on the campus of Brown University where he was a student.
If you click here, you can see more photos of this lovely home, which looks very much like it did when Daisy visited. If you live near or take a trip to Providence, you can go stand in these rooms and walk through the garden and try to view it through Daisy Low’s eyes. It is more difficult to recapture the sense of Providence at the turn of the twentieth century. It was a bustling, commercial town, proud of its history and still connected to the sea.
The three girls especially adored hiking and picnicking on nearby Mount Desert Island in Maine. They thought of Mt. Desert as their own special island.
Abby Lippitt was an athlete and sports enthusiast, and her happiest times were always outdoors. Meanwhile, Mary Carter was a more of a philosopher. Like Daisy, Mary’s religion was a primary source of strength and comfort. Mary loved reading and art, and unlike Abby, the city girl, Mary preferred more a more bucolic existence. Upon her marriage to George Hyde Clarke, she moved into his imposing family home, Hyde Hall.
Hyde Hall’s website contains more photos. Click here.
Hyde Hall sits on the shores of Lake Otsego by Cooperstown, New York. Cooperstown was and is a charming town surrounded by the extraordinary natural beauty of New York. It was the home of novelist James Fenimore Cooper, and today boasts the Baseball Hall of Fame and nearby Glimmerglass Opera.
Mary and George Clarke refurbished Hyde Hall and raised a family there. Daisy visited them often and knew Cooperstown well. When she was with them, Daisy worshiped at the church where the Clarkes were married, Christ Episcopal Church. Like Hyde Hall, Christ Church has a long and fascinating history connected to many relatives of Mary Clarke. The chapel, for instance, was a made into a memorial to her sister, Marcia. The loss of a younger sister is one very sad thing that Daisy and Mary had in common.
Next month, when you read Juliette Gordon Low: The Remarkable Founder of the Girl Scouts, you will be able to summon to your mind’s eye these photos of two very important places in Daisy’s life. I hope this will contribute to your reading pleasure.
Brown University photo from Rhode Island US GenWeb Project.
Hyde Hall photo from http://shermaniablog.blogspot.com. Interior shot from hydehall.org.
Map of Cooperstown from Katherine E. Chaison, “Plot Development, or E. F. Beadle’s Adventures in Building Suburban Homes in Late Nineteenth-Century New York,” New York History, Winter 2007.
Photo of Christ Church by Amy R. Gundrum in her article “Memorializing Mothers: Stained-Glass Windows, Female Empowerment, and Religion in Cooperstown, New York,” New York History, Winter 2007 .
Other photos in the public domain.