New Recognition for Moran Studio

Named to Historic Artists' Homes and Studios
The Moran Studio, captured with its garden in bloom last spring, opened to the public last year.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has announced the addition of the recently restored Thomas and Mary Nimmo Moran Studio in East Hampton to its Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios program, or HAHS. Established in 1999, the program now includes 39 member sites across the United States, among them the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center in Springs.

“The big picture is, all of a sudden the Moran Studio is now in the big picture,” said Richard Barons, chief curator of the East Hampton Historical Society, the studio’s parent organization. “Being accepted into the HAHS says that we have succeeded at giving aura to where the two artists worked.”

The homes of Ann Weaver Norton, a sculptor, children’s book author, and arts educator, and James Castle, a deaf outsider artist, were also added to the program’s membership. “Collectively, the three sites illustrate the National Trust’s strong commitment to bringing forward more diverse narratives about American cultural legacy,” said Valerie Balint, the program manager.

The Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios program works with its members to determine what kinds of exhibitions are appropriate for each site. A photographic exhibition generated by the program, “Artists at Home: The Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios Program,” will open at Clinton Academy in East Hampton on May 11 and remain on view through July 10. 

The Moran Studio reopened in July after almost five years of painstaking restoration. The Queen Anne-style structure, located in the Main Street Historic District, dates from 1884 and was the Morans’ primary residence until Thomas’s death in 1926. Its condition deteriorated gradually over the years until an engineer told the historical society in 2013 that a storm of six or more inches of snow would cause it to collapse.

“However,” said Mr. Barons, “we’re lucky we had a house that was revered by everyone who lived in it. Very few changes had been made to the interior, and because of careful restoration work we have been able to keep the integrity of the building.”

Maria Vann, the historical society’s executive director, said, “Maybe it’s because I worked in Cooperstown for a long time, but for me the HAHS is the Hall of Fame for artist studios.” Mr. Barons added that since the announcement of the studio’s acceptance, telephone calls have been coming from art magazines and educational institutions across the country that hadn’t known the studio still existed.

Mr. Barons estimated that he has been to about 40 percent of the studios included in the program and added that several other East End gardens and studios are now thinking of applying for HAHS membership.

“I think more people are looking for authenticity,” he said. “Going into a place where a writer wrote or a painter painted is amazing. We’ve seen it just in our venue since we opened last year.”

Ms. Vann added, “It’s about where history happened, the power of place.”

This article has meen modified from the print version, which incorrectly suggested that some HAHS member studios do not have an educational component.