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History of the Kate Freeman Clark Art Gallery

insideThe origin of the Art Galley was born in the mind of Kate Freeman Clark. In the course of probating her estate after her death on March 3, 1957, there was mention of a codicil not among other will documents. Instructions led them to a linen closet in her home and to a tin box where documents were found entitled, "Suggestions for my executors as to housing and disposal of my paintings."

She desired that on the lot located east of the Walthall home, there be built a fire-proof building with a skylight and storage space for excess paintings. In the center of the gallery, she requested exhibition cases for display for the Edward Russell Freeman oriental collection.

She envisioned another room arranged as a library for her and her father's books, magazines or art and prints with reading tables. In another place she wished for displays of costumes and apparel to illustrate fashions and manners. "They will show the amazing changes between 1914 and 1933 in minds, modes and manner. There should be enough back to the childhood of my grandmother, of both men and women's apparel," she noted in her suggestions.

Harris Gholson, president of the Bank of Holly Springs and a cousin of Kate Freeman Clark and executor of the estate, took charge of overseeing the renovation of the Walthall home and construction of the art museum.

galleryGertrude McAlexander, who handled Kate Clerk's banking matters, recalls when executors of the will requested delivery of the paintings from the Lincoln Warehouse in New York where they had been stored in wooden boxes for 40 years.

"We had no idea she was so prolific," she said. "When the paintings started to arrive, we filled up the Board Room of the bank and had to rent a house to store the rest."

Construction was complete on the Kate Freeman Clark Art Gallery in 1963. The resulting building and lavish gardens she envisioned were not achievable with the funds that were left for that purpose. The Gallery is today composed of three rooms where Kate Freeman Clark's paintings hang alongside a few William Merritt Chase paintings.

The Gallery storage room contains the remainder of the 1200 art pieces that compose her collection. There is a kitchen for food service during many of the social events that are held at the Gallery each year.