An important historical portrait of President Grover Cleveland is being exhibited at the Sippican Historical Society until the end of May. It is on loan from the Wareham Historical Society. For the past year, it has been on view at the New Bedford Whaling Museum in its exhibit, “Marion in the Golden Age,” co-curated by Frank McNamee and Judith Rosbe. Cleveland was the only American president to serve two non-consecutive terms – from 1885-1889 and then from 1893-1897. Cleveland and his wife, Frances, were invited to visit Marion by Arctic explorer, Adolphus Greeley, and they subsequently fell in love with this charming seaside village. They then rented homes in Marion for the four summers between Cleveland’s two presidential terms. The Clevelands were good friends of Richard Watson Gilder, the editor of the famed Century Magazine in New York City, whose family also summered in Marion. President Cleveland was an avid fisherman and he spent countless hours fishing on Buzzards Bay with the famous actor Joseph Jefferson. Cleveland’s Ledge, where they liked to fish, is named after Grover Cleveland. The Clevelands loved the town so much that they even named one of their daughters Marion.
The portrait of President Cleveland was painted by Charles Sidney Raleigh, who was born in Gloucester, England in 1830. Raleigh ran away to join the British Navy and served on a vessel commanded by his uncle. He also served in the American Navy during the Mexican War. In 1877, Raleigh settled in New Bedford and was listed as a marine painter. He was self-taught and specialized in ship portraits and marine scenes in the folk art tradition. He also painted portraits, and this work depicting President Grover Cleveland is one of his most important portraits. Raleigh also lived in Wareham at the Captain John Kendrick house, where he had his studio. The Kendrick House, owned and operated by the Wareham Historical Society, is located on the waterfront in downtown Wareham and contains a wonderful maritime collection, including numerous marine paintings by Raleigh. It is open to the public during the months of June, July and August. The Sippican Historical Society is located on the corner of Front and Main Streets in historic Marion Village. It is open to the public free of charge on Tuesdays from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm and Saturdays from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm. Please stop by and visit President Grover Cleveland.