W.W. Kennedy — Exchange Street artist
When Brown & Fitzgerald, fruit and vegetable dealers at Sandy Hill, now Hudson Falls, bought a used delivery wagon, from J.L. Dowd in 1887, the men hired artist W.W. Kennedy to paint the business name “in artistic style” on the side of the wagon.
Likewise, when D.W. Sherman of the Marion House at Lake George sold his four-horse tally-ho coach to O. Kellogg, operator of a stage coach line at Elizabethtown, Kennedy was hired to do the re-lettering.
Kennedy, who had his studio at 14 Exchange St. in Glens Falls, specialized in portrait painting, but, like many artists, he diversified in order to survive.
Area newspapers reported mostly on his artistic signs and banners.
“W.W. Kennedy, the artist, has just completed for Mssrs. Kenyon & Baldwin, lumber merchants of Sandy Hill, one of the largest signs in this section of the state,” The Morning Star reported on July 7, 1886.
Each letter in the word “LUMBER” was eight eight feet high and 16 feet wide.
“The sign, which is on the side of their sash, door and blind wareroom, at the entrance of their yard, attracts general attention and reflects credit to the artist.”
Kennedy was equally adept at artistic design for small spaces, such as a letter head.
“W.W. Kennedy, the Exchange Street artist, has designed an ornate letter heading for his business,” The Morning Star reported on May 3, 1887. “Mr. Kennedy made the design in pen and ink, and had it transferred to plate by a New York engraver.”
He also worked in textiles, painting artistic scenes on curtains for the club rooms of the Wait Hose Company at Sandy Hill 1884, and in architectural consulting, directing the “artistic style” painting of the house of Dr. G.R. Martine at 164 Glen St. in Glens Falls.
A presidential election year brought extra work for Kennedy.
“W.W. Kennedy, artist and sign painter, is executing at his studio, on Exchange Street, large portraits of Blaine and Logan, the Republican nominees for president and vice president.”
He was a bipartisan portrait artist, or, more accurately, multi-partisan, as there were seven parties represented on the presidential election ballot that year — Democratic, Republican, Anti-Monopoly, Greenback, American Prohibition, Prohibition and Equal Rights.
“W.W. Kennedy, the Exchange Street portrait artist, is prepared to furnish portraits of all candidates. He can also supply banners,” The Morning Star reported on July 31, 1884. “His work is finely executed and prices reasonable.”
He painted Cleveland and Hendricks banners for Democrats of South Glens Falls and Democrats of Fort Edward, and Republican banners for the French Mountain Blaine and Logan Club and for Glens Falls Republicans.
The portrait that hung for a time in front of Kennedy’s studio on Exchange Street was apparently for marketing purposes, and should not be construed as an indication of his personal preference of candidate.
“W.W. Kennedy, the artist, has just completed an excellent portrait of Grover Cleveland, which he will suspend over the street in front of his studio on Exchange Street. It is six by seven feet in size,” The Morning Star reported on July 26, 1884.
Kennedy was on the committee that drafted the constitution and bylaws for the local Young Republican Club established in 1884, and was on the committee that organized music and glee clubs for the GOP mass meeting on Oct. 7.
In December 1884, after election business slowed down, Kennedy painted a sign for Everett Harrison’s Central Market at 95 Glen St., famous for its mince meat sold during the Christmas season.
In 1885, Kennedy painted three “richly framed” advertising signs for Glen Shirt Co. to display at New York City, Washington, and Salt Lake City.
Kennedy had his studio in Glens Falls at least as early as 1880, when he painted “a massive horse-shoe” sign for Mrs. P. H. Gorey’s millinery shop on Glen Street.
Kennedy was in Glens Falls until at least 1887, when he painted a sign “in hammered gold” for J. M. Upham and Son shoe store at 107 Glen St.
Sources: The Morning Star, Glens Falls, June 14, July 16, 25, 26, 31, Aug. 27, Oct. 1, 31, Dec. 5, 12, 22, 30, 1884; July 25, 1885; July 7, 1886; April 14, May 3, 20, 1887; The Commercial Advertiser, Sandy Hill, May 12, 1886