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Hormel Historic Home: Hormel Home's artwork has stories behind the artists

It seems every time I walk through the rooms of the HHH I notice something new or figure something else out about the Hormel family or this home.

I could spend days looking through all the documents and files we have on the history of this place, but I try to limit myself because of other responsibilities. Today, I decided to finally open one of the many boxes of history, and I found information on some of the artwork we have on display in the house.

Apparently two pieces I walk by everyday were painted by women with connections to Austin. The colorful lake scene that hangs in the corridor of the banquet area was painted by Louise (Louisa) Minert-Kelly. A native of Waukon, Iowa, Louise was a talented artist who studied at some prestigious art schools including The Art Institute of Chicago and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. In 1906, Louise was a teacher in Austin, and here, she married Edward P. Kelly, an Austin native and law school graduate. We do not know how or when the HHH obtained the painting, but we know it was hanging over the fireplace in the library in 1947, based on photographs from that time period. It is likely the Hormels knew the Kellys because Edward practiced law here from 1903 until 1906.

Just inside the front door of the home hangs a trio of postcard-size pictures depicting early 1900s Austin scenes painted by Anna Leach in 1912. Ms. Leach moved to Austin at the age of 2 with her parents in 1866 according to an Austin Daily Herald article dated April 29,1981. She was raised in luxury and it was noted she was not taught the practical tools that would help her in the world. She did have access to painting lessons and she attended Austin schools graduating in 1881. She was remembered in her later life by her unkempt and eccentric appearance. I have not found any other information about Ms. Leach in our records, but we are happy the pictures were donated to the YWCA in 1981 by Mayor Robert Enright.

Many other treasures adorn our facility and as I learn about them I enthusiastically will share the information with you.

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