Christopher Grant La Farge

Inducted: 2017
Born: 1897
Died: 1956

It is not unusual in Rhode Island that talent and accomplishment run in many of the state’s long-established families. A case in point is the La Farge family. Christopher Grant La Farge was the son of a noted architect of the same name, grandson of John La Farge, a nationally prominent artist and stained glass maestro, and brother of Oliver, a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and champion of Native American culture.
Although he was New York City born in 1897, Christopher’s heart was at the family’s River Farm estate in the North Kingstown village of Saunderstown, a place often visited by Theodore Roosevelt. After attending prep school in New York and Massachusetts, enrolled at Harvard University in 1915 where he edited the Harvard Advocate. His graduation was delayed until 1920 by a four-month stint in France during World War I where he was a second lieutenant in the cavalry.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Christopher gained a degree in architecture from the University of Pennsylvania in 1923 and promptly married Louisa Ruth Hoar, daughter of a Massachusetts Congressman.
In 1924 Christopher began work as a designer with the renowned New York architectural firm of McKim, Mead, and White, designers of the Rhode Island State Capitol Building. While at that job, he used his artistic skill to create and exhibit watercolor paintings at local galleries and he worked on Native American exhibits at the Brooklyn Museum with his brother Oliver.
When the Great Depression diminished the need for architects, Christopher developed yet another talent–writing. His first work of literature, Hoxie Sells His Acres (1934) was written in Kent, England, where he had moved in 1932. It was composed in verse form, as were several subsequent works in this genre. His total output included, Each to the Other (1939); The Wilsons (1939); Poems and Portraits (1940); East by Southwest (1944); a play, Mesa Verde (1945); The Sudden Guest (1946), All Sorts and Kinds (1949); and Beauty for Ashes (1953). A number of these books had a Rhode Island setting.
During World War II, Christopher served as a war correspondent. Harper’s Magazine sent him to the South Pacific in 1943, and his work became the basis for East by Southwest. During that era he was part of a literary group that included Pearl Buck, Upton Sinclair, and John Dos Passos, and Christopher collaborated with them in 1945 to produce a magazine for artists and authors. He died in Providence in 1956 survived by his second wife, Violet Loomis, and three sons.

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