- Image Galleries
- EVA SCOTT FÉNYES: BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES AND IMAGES
- LEONORA SCOTT MUSE CURTIN: BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES AND IMAGES
- LEONORA FRANCES CURTIN PALOHEIMO: BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES AND IMAGES
- WISC SYMPOSIUM 2014
- IN TRIBUTE: MARILYN MASON
- ACEQUIA MADRE HOUSE INTERIORS
- ACEQUIA MADRE HOUSE EXTERIORS
Leonora Scott Muse was born in 1879. Her father was Lt. William S. Muse, US Marine Corps. Her mother was the multi-talented Eva Scott Muse. Leonora and her mother were frequently alone due to the demands of her father’s military career.
Eva Scott Muse took Leonora to live in Santa Fe, NM, after experiencing the deadly blizzard of 1888 in New York City with her parents. A dusty frontier town, not yet the cultural mecca it would become, both would return to Santa Fe throughout their lives drawn by its history and landscape.
Eva built an adobe house for herself and her young daughter and became part of Santa Fe society with friends that included Governor L. Bradford Prince, and Adolph Bandelier. Eva taught Leonora to appreciate New Mexico’s diverse cultures.
Mother and daughter headed for North Africa after their two years in the American Southwest. Leonora went to school in England and Switzerland while her mother continued her artistic education in Egypt. There Eva met Dr. Adalbert Fényes, a Hungarian physician practicing in Cairo in 1895. They were married in Budapest. The family went to live in Pasadena, California in 1896.
On a visit to Santa Fe, Leonora met a lawyer at the District Attorney’s office named Thomas E. Curtin, who would become her husband in 1903. They settled in Colorado Springs where Tom Curtin was part of a group of entrepreneurs developing the region’s railroads and resorts.
Leonora Scott Muse Curtin standing, Eva Scott Fényes [seated and holding baby], Leonora Frances Curtin Paloheimo [baby] 1904
In December 1903 a daughter, Leonora Frances Curtin was born.
L to R Leonora S.M. Curtin [in widow’s weeds], Eva Scott Fényes, Leonora Frances Curtin [later Paloheimo] in studio in Fényes home, Pasadena 1912
The marriage was a happy one. Sadly, Tom Curtin died quite young in 1911, and the two Leonoras went home to Pasadena.
L to R, Back row [Mrs.]Leonora SM Curtin, Julius Rolshoven, Mrs. Rollins, Eva Scott Fényes Front row L to R Mrs. Rolshoven, [Miss] Leonora F.Curtin [later Paloheimo], Warren Rollins, Gustave Baumann, and Marsden Hartley 1919
As time went on, they began to travel.
In 1916 they came to Santa Fe again, rented a home and became part of Santa Fe’s cultural community.
In 1921, the two Leonoras traveled to Japan, China, and other Southeast Asian countries spending almost a year in India in 1922-1923.
In 1926, the three women built a house on family property next to the Acequia Madre. Eva and the two Leonoras designed it together after being disappointed by architects’ plans. That house today is the site of the Women’s International Study Center.
Connected to the artistic and literary groups, the women were included as knowledgeable members of the scientific community because of their work with archaeologists such as Edgar Hewett and Frederick Hodge. Leonora, her mother Eva and daughter Leonora were founding members of the Spanish Colonial Arts Society.
Left to right Frederick Hodge, Mrs. Hodge, John P. Harrington, Leonora F. Curtin
The Curtins served on the boards of the Museum of New Mexico and the School of American Research as well as the Southwest Museum in Los Angeles. Respected anthropologist, historian and editor, Frederick W. Hodge served as Mrs. Curtin’s mentor. The younger Leonora had been assisting John P. Harrington, Smithsonian linguist and anthropologist, in the recording and notation of Native American languages. Through Harrington, the two Leonoras developed an interest in Moorish influences on Spanish New Mexico.
Leonora was particularly interested in the uses of plants as herbal remedies in New Mexico. where isolation had preserved practices brought to the New World by Spanish settlers 400 years before. In 1931, the Leonoras went to Morocco to meet with Arab scholars and brought back items that form part of the Harrington Collection at the Smithsonian Institution.
Urged on by long time friend Mary Austin, Mrs. Curtin became a familiar visitor to adobe homes in mountain villages and pueblos, speaking with curanderas and Native American Healers as she documented New Mexican plants uses. This became the book, Healing Herbs of the Upper Rio Grande, which is still a valuable resource for scholars of the Southwest today. Other Curtin writings appeared in books, and professional journals.
In 1933, the Curtins bought a historic ranch in La Cienega, New Mexico fifteen miles south of Santa Fe. Named El Rancho de la Golondrinas, it had been a stopping place for travelers along the Camino Real for hundreds of years. A working farm, the Curtins leased out part of the property to a dairy and improved some of the old buildings for their own use.
Later Mrs. Curtin supported the efforts of her daughter Leonora and son-in-law Yrjö Paloheimo to restore other buildings to create the first living history museum in New Mexico. She lived to see El Rancho de las Golondrinas open in 1972, the year of her death.