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Ormond Memorial Art Museum & Gardens
By Louise Caccamise and Photos by Shannon Finley
The Ormond Memorial Art Museum & Gardens date to 1946, when a dedication ceremony was held on December 29. That date represented the culmination of much planning at a time when World War II was just coming to an end.
In early 1946, veteran and artist Malcolm Fraser offered his art work to any town along the east coast of Florida that would create an art museum for his paintings and also pay tribute to veterans. Ormond Beach accepted the challenge and its residents worked to make the offer come true. The City of Ormond Beach selected the location at 78 East Granada Boulevard and returning servicemen volunteered their time to help build the museum galleries and clear the land for the Memorial Gardens.
In the following decades, a variety of artwork has been displayed, but always the art of Malcolm Fraser has been on display. Malcolm Fraser was a native of Montreal, Canada, born on April 16, 1868. He attended the College of the City of New York for two years and then enrolled in the Art Students League.
At the age of 18, he exhibited at the Salmagundi Club galleries in New York and the next year, at the Society of American Artists’ exhibition. Against that background in 1888, he went to Paris and studied at the Sorbonne. Four years later, he painted two six-foot windows for St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in the Rue Notre Dame in Paris. In 1895, he graduated from the Sorbonne and was awarded the title of Professor of Fine Arts by the City of Paris. He made drawings for the Boulak Museum in Cairo. Then after graduating from the University of Heidelberg in Germany, he returned to England where he made drawings for Alfred Lord Tennyson of the poet and his home. He associated with many of the prominent artists of the time and made portraits of Queen Wilhelmina of Holland and other notables.
In 1897, Malcolm Fraser returned to America where he became well-known as an illustrator in periodicals of the day and also turned his talents to book illustrating.
In 1917, he volunteered for service in World War I. He joined the French regiment known as the “Blue Devils.” Serving as a captain on the front lines, he was wounded five times and received eight major medals. He was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Alsace Lorraine Society.
After the death of his first wife, he married Mary Austin Aldrich, a noted sculptor, in 1933. He died at home in Brookhaven, New York, on June 12, 1949.
The Ormond Memorial Gardens adjoin the Museum and are one of the beauty spots in this area. Designed in the 1940s by Henry Stockman, a Belgian-trained landscape architect, there are both native and non-native plants, artisan-designed walkways and a gazebo. The gardens have been taken care of by Janett Van Wicklen Taylor for more than 40 years. A greenhouse created with the Garden Club of the Halifax Country is named in her honor.
Peacock Fountain was gifted by Malcolm Fraser’s wife, sculptress Mary Aldrich Fraser, in 1950. It was an exact replica of the fountain she had created for a manor in Long Island. It is located at the pool at the Museum’s south entrance. A gazebo, designed by Robert G. Owens, and located in the center of the gardens, was completed in 1980. It is used for programs and weddings. A Labyrinth Walk was added in 2007. A waterfall constructed in 1998, using native coquina rock, is a focal point of the Main Garden Entrance.
Also In 1998, the historic Emmons Cottage, a Victorian Pioneer Cottage of around 1886, was relocated to the garden by local artist Sang Roberson and renovated by the Garden Club of the Halifax Country. It is used to provide environmental art classes to school children each spring. In 2022, a Seabreeze High School senior, Annabella Olivari, created a Free Little Art Gallery styled after Emmons Cottage and filled with miniature artworks.
A special tribute to veterans is given each year at the Museum at the 11th hour, on the 11th day of the 11th month. It is held under a large tent in the parking lot with music and inspiring speakers. It is free and open to the public. Military memorabilia is on display inside. Plaques inside and out honor Ormond Beach veterans of World War I and II. Sculptures outside honor Vietnam and Korean veterans.
A John Knox bus tour will go to the museum in March where residents can enjoy the gardens, Malcolm Fraser’s paintings, and the exhibit on display at that time. Watch for the date in the Village Weekly.