Person Record

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Name Marjorie Randolph Van Wickle Lyon
Born 1883
Father Augustus Stout Van Wickle
Mother Bessie Pardee Van Wickle McKee
Notes Marjorie's parents, Bessie and Augustus S. Van Wickle purchased the Blithewold estate in 1894 as a 'Country Home', and moved to the estate with Marjorie in 1896. Marjorie spent many summers and holidays at Blithewold. When her mother died in 1936, Marjorie inherited Blithewold.

Marjorie Van Wickle was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1883, the first child of Bessie Pardee and Augustus Stout Van Wickle. Not much is known about Marjorie's early education, except that she was taught for some time by Estelle Clements, along with her Pardee cousins, at home in Hazleton, PA. In her teen-age years she attended Miss Vinton's School in Ridgefield, Connecticut, a small boarding school for young ladies. It was there that she met several young women who were to remain her closest friends for the rest of her life.

In 1898, Marjorie's father Augustus was killed in a skeet-shooting accident at the age of 42. His will revealed a generous bequest to Brown University, his alma mater. The funds were used to build a new administration building, and to purchase and install the gates named in his memory. Marjorie was Guest of Honor at the dedication of the new Van Wickle Gates.

When Marjorie was 19 years old she went on an 11-month tour of Europe and Egypt, accompanied by her cousin Dorothy Pardee, a friend, and a chaperone-guide. In the hundreds of letters home to her mother, Marjorie left a comprehensive account of her adventures, revealing the beginnings of a lifelong passion for travel, nature, music, and art. She returned to Europe many times, taking her last trip to France and Italy in 1974 at the age of 90.

On a beautiful summer's day in 1914, Marjorie married George Lyon in the enclosed garden at Blithewold, where photographs show glorious borders of shrubs and flowers. The ceremony was held in front of the Summerhouse, and a reception for 300 guests was held on the Great Lawn.

As WWI began, Marjorie started her work with the Red Cross, which became a big part of her life for the next 40 years, through two world wars and in peacetime. After the war, she worked in Boston as a Motor Corps Driver. On her retirement in 1957, it was estimated that she had driven some 150,000 miles for the Red Cross, picking up needy patients and driving them to the Boston Hospitals and clinics for outpatient treatment. She left extensive records of her work, along with essays and stories about her experiences.

Marjorie began painting in watercolor around 1900 when she was 16. In her later years, Marjorie developed her interest in painting and traveling. She traveled to Europe often, painting in Rome, Florence, Paris, Monte Carlo, and Taormina, Italy. Changing exhibits of her work are displayed at Blithewold, and hundreds more paintings are stored in the Archives. She wrote poetry and journals and detailed accounts of her experiences in foreign lands, and these, along with thousands of letters and photographs, are carefully preserved and catalogued. The stories they reveal are shared with visitors and members through exhibits, lectures, and newsletter articles. Besides her many visits to Europe, she traveled to Egypt, Panama, Alaska, and Hawaii. However, her heart was always close to home. In 1931 she wrote to her mother "Looking forward to the next weekend in Bristol, which, after all our wanderings, is still the very favorite spot for all of us."

Marjorie's greatest joy was the gardens and arboretum at Blithewold, and she loved to share her gardening skills and knowledge with friends and fellow gardeners. During her lifetime she welcomed tours of the grounds by garden clubs and horticultural societies. She spent the last few years of her life planning to hand over the estate, along with the house and its contents, to a Rhode Island trust. After a full and active life, Marjorie died at Blithewold in 1976 at the age of 93. The estate is now managed by "Blithewold, Inc", a non-profit organization dedicated to keeping the property open to the public, in accordance with Marjorie's wishes. Its mission is to preserve New England's finest garden estate through excellence in horticulture and historic preservation, and by its example to teach and inspire others. -M. Whitehead, Blithewold Curator
Spouse George A. Lyon
Children No Children
Deceased Date 1976

Associated Records

Image of Scuttle, Coal -

Scuttle, Coal -

Brass coal scuttle with swing handle.

Image of Shoe -

Shoe -

Two toned shoes: brown leather and beige textured fabric with a pattern of squares. Amber colored beaded buckles. Heels are 2 1/2" and flared slightly. Shoes were found in a Thayer McNeil shoe box (1976.1.0071.) A tag in the box reads "Two-toned (brown & beige), beaded buckle decoration.

Image of Box, Shoe - 1920 ca

Box, Shoe - 1920 ca

Pink shoe box with black trimmed top with illustration on top of a woman seated in a chair holding a fan and a shoe. A small black boy is holding a shoe on a pink pillow. At the base of the illustration is the name of a shoemaker. Reads: "Thayer/McNEIL/Company/BOSTON". Shoes 1976.1.0070ab were found in this box.

Image of Shoe -

Shoe -

Two-toned velvet shoes, maroon toes, pink/mauve back, short flared heels, small rhinestone buckles, leather soles. Worn with fuschia, magenta and pale violet / lavender stockings (1976.1.0081, 1976.1.0082, and 1976.1.0083).

Image of Stocking -

Stocking -

Pair of fuschia colored silk stockings with back seam and reinforced heel and toe. These stockings, as well as 1976.1.0082 and 1976.0083 were meant to be worn with red velvet shoes 1976.1.0072ab.

Image of Stocking -

Stocking -

Pair of magenta colored silk stockings with back seam and reinforced heel and toe. These stockings, as well as 1976.1.0081 and 1976.0083 were meant to be worn with red velvet shoes 1976.1.0072ab.

Image of Stocking -

Stocking -

Pair of pale violet colored silk stockings with back seam. Reinforced toe. Clocking from ankle to mid-calf and at outside of top band. These stockings, as well as 1976.1.0081 and 1976.0082 were meant to be worn with red velvet shoes 1976.1.0072ab.

Image of Bracelet -

Bracelet -

Identification bracelet. Rectangular metal pendant with raised, round charm (red, white green enamel on metal), says "American Red Cross Volunteer." Engraved on the front is "Lieutenent Marjorie Lyons." On the back, "209 Newton St. Brookline, Mass." is engraved. Chain is made up of open metal links.

Image of Card, Identification - 1941 ca

Card, Identification - 1941 ca

The American National Red Cross, Boston Metropolitan Chapter Identification Card. "...on June 30, 1941, Marjorie (Randolph Van Wickle) Lyon has successfully completed a course of instruction in Motor Convoy work." "VALID TO DEC. 31, 1945." Signature and Picture, in uniform, appears on reverse of card. Marjorie (Randolph Van Wickle) Lyon was a member of the Boston Chapter of the Red Cross, while living at her Brookline Address.

Image of Card, Identification - 1942 ca

Card, Identification - 1942 ca

The American National Red Cross, Washington, D.C. Blood Donor Certificate for "Mrs. George Lyon" (aka Marjorie Randolph Van Wickle Lyon) indicating she is a voluntary donor. Back side has record of blood donations from 1942-1943. Form 1811. "This certificate signifies that its possessor has rendered a patriotic service by giving his or her own blood for the treatment of the seriously injured."

Image of Card, Identification - 1940s

Card, Identification - 1940s

Massachusetts Committee on Public Safety Boston, Massachusetts Official Identity Card. Identifies Marjorie Van W. Lyon as an ambulance driver. Front side includes small photograph. Stamped on back indicating the card is an Official Police Pass for War Emergencies. Issued by the Brookline Police Dept. Marjorie (Randolph Van Wickle) Lyon was a member of the Boston Chapter of the Red Cross, while living at her Brookline Address.

Image of Hat -

Hat -

Hat, brown fur, orange, red and brown feathers. Versa 2" fur band, 2" netting, silk

Image of Frame, Picture -

Frame, Picture -

Picture frame covered in grey linen and embroidered with daises of white, green and yellow. Daisies were a favorite flower of Bessie. This frame cover was embroidered by Marjorie Van Wickle for her mother, Bessie. A copy of a picture of Bessie is in the frame.

Image of Dress - 1903 ca

Dress - 1903 ca

Shell pink, two-piece party dress worn by Marjorie Van Wickle. The long, full gored skirt has a slight train and the center-front panel is embroidered in a stylized daisy design with thick silk floss and sequins and vertical pleats of silk chiffon. The rest of the skirt is divided into five tiers trimmed with horizontal inserts of embroidered cotton lace and pleats of silk chiffon. The lining is trimmed with a matching pleated hemline flounce, backed with a pink taffeta ruffle. The bodice has a wide rounded neckline and short puffed sleeves. The cotton foundation bodice is stiffened with 13 bones. This dress was purchased at Drecolls during Marjorie's trip to Vienna in 1903. In a

Image of Dress - 1895 ca

Dress - 1895 ca

One-piece child's dress, pale green pleated silk and velvet, ca. 1895. The dress has a lined, high-waisted bodice with center back opening, and was made by B. Altman Co., New York. The pale green silk crepe bodice is trimmed with a matching silk satin ribbon sash at the waist and ribbon bows at the center back, center front, and left shoulder. A wide needle lace bertha collar is stitched to the rounded neckline, extending over the very full, short contrasting velveteen sleeves. The pale green knife-pleated silk crepe skirt is cut straight and tightly gathered to the bodice. Dress: chest is 27" around; shoulder to hem is 37-inches. This dress was Marjorie Van Wickle's, from childhood. She

Image of Hat -

Hat -

Green silk hat lined with green net. Chanel label. Embroidered with cream colored silk thread. Brim has cream colored fabric leaves attached to wire. Half of leaves are on top of brim, half are under brim. There is also a separate strand of leaves.