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Sign for Lawrence's Inn
about 1797
Original Owner:Originally owned by Ariel Lawrence , American, born 1743
Maker:Maker Unknown
Paint on pine board, smalt (used as a colorant, not for texture), gold leaf, iron hardware
Primary Dimensions (height x width including hardware): 27 1/2 x 50in. (69.9 x 127cm) Other (height x width of sign only): 20 x 50in. (50.8 x 127cm)
Credit Line: Collection of Morgan B. Brainard. Gift of Mrs. Morgan B. Brainard.
Gallery Copy: This sign displays a number of Masonic symbols: the two pillars of King Solomon’s Temple, the square and compass, the letter “G” for God, the sun and moon, and the crossed keys. This is among the earliest surviving examples of such imagery for public display. Ariel Lawrence’s inn, on the busy Albany Turnpike (now Route 44), almost certainly doubled as a meeting place for the local Masonic lodge.
Description: Images: On both sides, a similar array of Masonic iconography. No underlying imagery. Construction: Thick, single, rectangular board, oriented horizontally. Applied moldings, mitered at the corners, are nailed to the faces of both sides. The top molding strips overlay hanging straps that extend nearly the full height of the board and are painted the same blue as the background. Surface: This sign displays only a sign paint layer on each side. Background is blue, with smalt (a blue glass additive) is used to establish the color. Letters are in gold leaf and the symbols are white, with gold used in the sun's rays.
Historical Note: Original location. Lawrence's house remains extant, on the northwest corner of Route 44 and Mill Street in Norfolk. The house became Norfolk's first post office in 1804 and was subsequently operated as a tavern by James Shepard (active 1821-46). Photographs of the house were made in the late 1930s for the Federal Writer's Project, "Census of Old or Distinctive Buildings in the State of Connecticut" (CHS Library).
Inscription: Text: on both sides, below iconography, "A=Lawrence,s Inn"; no underlying text.
Object Number: 1961.63.32
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