Robert Strong Woodward (1885-1957) American
Birthplace/Origin: Northampton, Massachusetts
Robert Strong Woodward was born in the town of Northampton, Massachusetts, on May 11, 1885. His father’s work in real estate required the family to relocate often, and he was placed in school after school around the country, from Springfield, Ohio, to Schenectady, NY, and beyond. He entered Bradley Polytechnic Institute in Peoria, Illinois, in the fall of 1902, as a high school junior. Three years later, after finishing high school and a year of college-level study in the liberal arts, he joined his parents in California, where he planned to attend Leland Stanford.
But in September, 1906, at the age of 21, Robert suffered an accidental gunshot injury, which left him permanently paralyzed from the waist down. In 1910, he returned to New England, determined to make his living as an artist, and after several months at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts School, he settled in Buckland.
He remodeled a small out-building on the farm of his uncle, Bert Wells, and named it Redgate. Here he made a poor living drawing illuminations and book plates, until around 1915 when he began to follow his long-held ambition of becoming a landscape painter. This studio burned to the ground from an overheated wood stove the week before Christmas, 1922. He then purchased the Hiram Woodward Place nearby and restored it to use as his second home and studio. At this time he also purchased an abandoned little mill which he named “The Little Shop”, bought in 1931, which was to become a second studio but was the site of only one oil painting.
Several years later, in 1934, the house was struck by lightning and burned, along with his studio; only a barn survived. In 1934 he bought a third property, the Southwick House, on Upper Street in Buckland Center with an abandoned blacksmith shop, which he converted into a studio. He purchased a pasture on a mountaintop in Heath, Ma in 1937, where he built still another studio, the Burnt Hill Studio, and painted innumerable canvases of the beech tree outside his window. This studio burned during deer hunting season in 1950 from a fire of unknown origin. In these last 2 studios, he created the majority of his professional works, including the famous “window pictures.”
The last studio in Buckland is lovingly maintained in nearly the same condition as Mr. Woodward left it.