Paul Vinal Winters

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Paul went to the Massachusetts School of Art in Boston, where he chose to take all .... He sculpted the statue of Portia, for Portia Law School (now New England ...
Paul Vinal Winters New England Artist (1906-1971)

Compiled by his daughter, Susan Winters Smith

BEGINNINGS Paul Vinal Winters was born on September 8, 1906, in Lowell, Massachusetts at his home on Wilder Street. His parents were Charles Benjamin Winters and Marion Katahdin Vinal. Charles B. Winters was the son of Amos Winters and Ellen Jayne Bull who lived at 673 Broadway in Lowell. Marion K. Vinal was the daughter of Arthur Vinal and Georgianna Anderson.

The Winters family came from Mooers, NY, and the first Winters in the country was a Hessian Soldier who came from Hesse-Hannau Germany and fought for the British in the American Revolution. He stayed in Upstate NY after the war. John Winters was a sawyer in Mooers, and his son, Amos, was a hammer smith and a sawyer, who served in the Civil War along with three of his brothers.

The Vinals came from Maine, and Paul was also descended from many old Maine families, including the Bachelors, Sanborns, Dearborns, Knowltons, Lowells, etc. Marian K. Vinal was born aboard the steamship “Katahdin” to an “actress on the American state, Georgianna Anderson, daughter of Searsport Sea Captain John Anderson who was lost at sea with his ship the Polyanthus, and granddaughter of Peter Smith, a mariner who was washed overboard from the brig Charles Edward. Georgianna was raised in the family of her stepfather, Eldridge Nickerson. She married young and when her husband died, she went into singing and dancing. After giving birth to Marion, Georgianna went back to the stage. Marion was raised by Arthur Vinal and his wife, Fanny Dunham.

Charles Winters, son of Amos was born in Mooers, NY in 1880 and came to Lowell with his family about 1888. He attended Bartlett Grammar School in Lowell, and played a trombone in the Excelsior Band. Charles and Marion Vinal met in Lowell. Charlie Winters was a buyer and a paymaster in the mills, first the Stark Mills and then the Amoskeag Mills in Manchester, NH. After he married Marion, they lived in Manchester for a while and then moved back to Lowell, where Paul was born.

When he was 7-9 years old, Paul’s father was paymaster at the Stark Mills in Manchester, NH, and the family lived on Beech Street. Paul attended the Straw School. He also studied at the Art Institute of Manchester. Paul had been interested in art since a very young age, and was encouraged by his mother to draw. He won a cartoon contest in a local paper when he was about 10.

In the summer he went to T.R. Williams Camp and won cups in archery and birding. He often got into trouble for breaking windows by batting stones, and was punished by having to paint the woodwork and wash the floors. In the winter he broke his leg sliding.

When he lived in Manchester, he had his tonsils removed. It was traumatic because his mother had been very anti-Catholic and made him believe that the nuns were witches, even crossing to the other side of the street if they saw one coming. Then, when he needed the tonsillectomy, she took him to a Catholic hospital and left him in the care of nuns, where he was terrified. He never forgave her for that.

Before he entered High School the family moved to Arlington, MA where Paul attended Arlington High School and played football, baseball and hockey for the school teams. He also played semi-pro hockey for the “Arlington Aces” where he was known as “the Swede” for his blonde hair.

Paul was active in the Boy Scouts all of his life, becoming the first Eagle Scout in Arlington, MA, under Scout Master Fred Brown, and going on to be a Scout Master in Norwood, Massachusetts; Chelsea, Vermont and Shady Rill (Middlesex), Vermont and eventually earning a pin for 35 years of scouting.

Paul’s brother, Robert Lincoln Winters was born in Arlington in 1922. Paul resented having to wash the baby’s diapers and take him for rides in his carriage, even to the ball games with him. Paul graduated from Arlington in 1925.


After Paul graduated from High School, his parents and brother moved to New Rochelle, NY, and Paul got a studio apartment in Boston, with a gay roommate named Hammy. In the same building was Les Rogers, who was librarian for the Boston Symphony.

Paul went to the Massachusetts School of Art in Boston, where he chose to take all the classes they had to offer in painting and sculpting, rather than concentrating in one area and taking all the necessary classes for the actual degree of Master of Fine Arts. He studied under Ernest L. Major, Cyrus Dallin and Raymond Averill Porter, and specialized in religious art. He had Mr. Andrews for painting. He also played football and hockey for the art school.

[Later, when Paul was teaching at Montpelier High School in Montpelier, Vermont, he took one class in cooking at the University of Vermont, and for this and his many accomplishments in art, he was granted his permanent teaching certificate, the equivalent of a master’s degree.]

Paul also loved music and played the banjo. He worked his way through art school by playing gigs on his banjo (a Vega White Lady) with a string band, and for a while with such groups as the original Bing Crosby and the Rover Boys. He “hung out” with all the young artists and musicians in Boston in the late 20’s and early 30’s. A funny family story is that Paul knew the musicians in the Boston Pops, and once he was asked by Les Rogers, the librarian to play the banjo at the Pops…one note on one night for a special piece called “Skyscrapers” requiring this special sound. He met Conductor Serge Koussevitzky, who came to his Boston apartment and asked him to do a bust of him. The bust was put in Boston Public Library. Paul later met Arthur Fiedler, and also did a bust of him. Both busts were at one time in Symphony hall, and the one of Fiedler was printed on a concert program.

Paul met his first wife, Emma Whittemore when he was a senior and she was a freshman at art school. He was her senior guide. He said they had a fight the first day they met. They soon lived together and were married in 1928. Two daughters, Marcia and Beryl were born of this marriage.

In Boston, Paul worked with Samuel J. Gurnsey of the Peabody Museum at Harvard, making the wax figures in the Cliff Dwellers group. Also, for the Children’s Museum he did dioramas of Hopi Indians and Dinosaurs.

After Art school, Paul concentrated on sculpting, and worked for Caproni Brothers Galleries in Boston, where he learned to cast under Leo Toschi. He also worked at Knowles and Co., (religious statues), T.K. Hughes (work for Hollandale relief, Kelly Tires and Wetherbird shoes) and Boston Statuary (St. Catherine, pair of angels St. Pellegrino), as well as doing freelance work (J. Rosenberg – relief map of the world and Chinese figures).

During the Great Depression, Paul lived on Newport St in Arlington and Green Street in Boston and did statuary for the WPA, as well as murals in the interior of public building in Boston.

Paul had several teaching position during these years, including Rhode Island School of Design, Vesper George School of Art and Hayden Foundation for Boys.

Paul worked many years as a commercial artist as an employee of different companies, or doing free-lance work for them, including Fine Trimming (J.M. Co), Things in Common, American Toy and Novelty (ducks, chickens, deer, piggy banks, Scotty dogs and angel heads), Denny Denison Paper Co.(little boy), E.F. To y Co. (elephant head, turtle ash try), and Tillotson Rubber Company. He created many small pieces of art which sold at fairs and in gift shops, such as a kewpie doll, piggy banks, shoe bank, bee-hive (skep) bank, Chinese and Dutch figurines, etc. He did private contracts, such as his pan baby, made as a garden ornament, and a sculpting of the dog “Wolf” for Dr. Edwin P. Booth, Boston theologian.

He did a great deal of religious art for the Archdiocese of Boston, including a statue of Mary with her foot on a serpent, and Peter with the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. Many of his religious statues, done for the Catholic Church and also for protestant churches and schools, are all over New England. He taught art in settlement houses, Dennison House (kid’s art), etc. He did forestry dioramas for W.L. Pitman (Ted) and was listed in Art Books under Diorama experts.

Paul took the religious work very seriously, and was a deeply spiritual man. He often had spiritual experiences when doing a work of art. He is quoted as saying this regarding religious sculpting (in regard to the Holy Rosary Group): “After this basic planning is finished, you then sit back and dream a bit. You try to visualize the story you are to portray of a very lovely lady with a deep spiritual feeling. The child she is holding is the Christ Child, and the artist must feel while working that this is the Christ child. One must talk long hours with the spiritual adviser who has ordered the piece to learn what virtues or messages he wishes portrayed, and one must study the symbols of religion, because there are no words to tell the story. Everything must be symbolic.” He goes on to say that “when one is creating a military or political statue the artist must be forceful or dynamic. In a religious group he must be appealing to the spiritual. A hand raised in supplication is not the same as a hand raised in command or a hand reaching out for the rent! And so must every gesture tell the true story, carry the real message.” (The Bendix Log, Volume III, No. 9, Norwood, MA., April, 1945).

An article in Art In Stone, of Barre, Vermont, entitled “Freehand Drawing and Religion” was dictated by Paul to his wife, Jennie who edited and “finished” it. She was sometimes his ghostwriter.

He sculpted the statue of Portia, for Portia Law School (now New England School of Law); the miniatures of John Wesley at the Boston University School of Theology; a base-relief of Horace Mann, with a quotation from Mann, used in High Schools throughout the country.

Paul’s teaching positions included the Hayden Foundation for Boys, Vesper George School of Art and Rhode Island School of Design.

Paul was noted in Who’s Who in American Art and in The Dictionary of American Art. He was noted for his statue of the Christ of Peace in the St. Mary’s Cemetery in Salem, MA, which is a 22 foot statue standing at the top of the hill overlooking the cemetery. It is modeled on the idea of the Christ of the Andes in South America. This statue was dedicated in May of 1942 to Father Fraier, commissioned by Governor Murphy of New Hampshire. Mr. Knowles, Paul Winters, his friend, Mary Rae and others attended the dedication. One year, on Good Friday, the wooden cross of this statue was struck by lightning and broken. The statue is still there today (1998), although it has suffered some damage from vandalism.

Paul was also noted for a large statue of St. Nicholas, the Santa Claus version, which was sent to St. Nicholas High School in Mahanoy, Pennsylvania, and the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, called “The Blessing”, which at one time stood outside of the Sacred Heart Church in Weymouth, MA. (and also in Concord?).

Other statues include; a statue of Christ the King, seen just beneath the church tower at the church of St. John the Evangelist on Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge, a grouping called Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, which was at “the French church” in Holyoke, MA., St. Mary-of-the-Woods, in a big Cathedral in Terre Haute, Indiana, Hope on the Cross, etc., the statue of St. Catherine of Sienna in Norwood, MA., which was blessed by Cardinal Cushing., etc. Other works include “Mother Cabrini”, and “St. Pellegrini”, done for Boston Statuary. He did a Sacred Heart Statue for the Desilets family, a “soldier in uniform”, a statue of Christ for a memorial for the Sipe family in Texas, and many others.

In 1939, Paul was 34 and wanted to enlist. The government considered him too old to train so he was rejected for enlistment and did undercover work. During World War II, Paul worked first as a pipe fitter and then as a production illustrator at the Hingham Shipyard in Weymouth, MA and as a machine draftsman at Bendix Aviation in Norwood. He was asked to make blueprints for large ships, which he was proud to do. His specialty was making 3 dimensional drawings for those who could not read blueprints. While on a ship at Hingham, a hatchway cover “fell” on his head. He always said that this was done by a spy. He also worked at Northern chemicals as a liaison between management and labor.

SECOND MARRIAGE AND OFF TO VERMONT In 1943, Paul married Jennie Ada Badger of Norwood, MA. They had two sons and four daughters (Peter, Susan, Sheryl, Paul, Jane and Kathryn).

Paul Winters left Norwood and took his family to Vermont in late 1947, where he taught for a time at the Barre School of Memorial art as well as working in the granite industry in Barre for Jones Brothers, sculpting statues for monuments, as a contract sculptor. Some of his monument statues include a Christ figure for the SIPE family, sent to Texas; a Lutheran Christ sent to St. Louis, Missouri, as part of the memorial in honor of Dr. Walter A. Maier, founder of the Lutheran Hour (carved in stone by Alfonso Del Guidice); a stylized St. Francis of Assisi; Our Lady of Grace, and others, including a statue called “Hope on the Cross”, sculpted for E.H. Titmus of Petersburg, VA, (carved in stone by Arthur A. Henes) which, while Paul was still sculpting it in the clay, fell over and hit him on the forehead at the exact moment his mother died in 1951.

St. Mary-of-the-Woods, a statue of the Immaculate Conception, was designed by Roy Aberdeen Elwell, sculpted in clay by Paul Vinal Winters at Jones Brothers in 1952 of Wells-Lamson Barre Granite, for the E.W. Walsh Monument Company in Terre Haute, Indiana. She stands twelve feet and four inches in height and stands in a massive niche over to the portal of the Spanish Renaissance Chapel of St. Mary-of-the-Woods College in Terre Haute, Indiana. She was carved in stone by Mr. Arthur Henes, a Barre-born stone carver, assisted by Alfonso Del Giudice, an Italian-born stone carver of many years experience, both employed by Jones Brothers. This statue was written up in Monumental News Review and in The Barre Daily Times, September 13, 1952 (Barre, Vermont).

In 1948, Paul moved his family to the Lucas farm in Chelsea, Vermont, where (as he had done for others) he painted a mural of the Washington Heights on three walls of the kitchen. He went to work teaching returning Veterans at the Barre School of Memorial Art. He continued to work under contract for Jones Brothers. Paul soon bought a home for his family in Chelsea Village, but the difficulties of making a living as an artist caused him to lose this property and to move on. [Let it be briefly noted here that Paul Winters never thought much of money and fame, and was most of his life a poor artist. He became a very frustrated man, angry with the world the way it was, and because of his frustrations and a few years of alcoholism became a person who could emotionally abuse others…but that is another story].

He gave up the work with Jones Brothers when a strike reduced his contract to $0. He taught for one year at Spaulding High School in Barre.

(For a brief period from 1952-55, Paul moved his family back to Norwood, MA, and went back to work for the Caproni Art Galleries in Boston. At this time the family lived at 20 Neponset Street in Norwood.)

In 1955, Paul took his family back to Williamstown, Vermont and went to work for the Vermont Development Department for many years and eventually became the Vermont State Art Director, a position he held for seven years. During that time, he directed the artwork at the Vermont Building at the Big E (Eastern States Exposition in Springfield, MA), and ran the building for a time. He created a very large, eight panel maple-sugaring mural for the Vermont Building. This mural was later in the St. Johnsbury Museum and is today in the New England Maple Museum in Pittsford, Vermont (US route 7 North of Rutland)

On February 25 of 1958, the family moved to Shady Rill (Middlesex), Vermont. Paul created many works of art in Vermont, mostly as a free-lance artist in his own studio, called The Jen-Paul Studios, combining his name with that of his wife, Jennie, who was also a talented artist. Some of his noted pieces are the dioramas of the Battle of Bennington (in the Bennington Battle Monument), and the Battle of Hubbardton (in the museum in Hubbardton). He did a statue of Samuel De Champlain, 20 feet tall of rubber, which we understood went to Fort Ticonderoga. He also did small sculptures of a Vermont Sugarhouse and a Vermont Covered Bridge, which were sold all over the state. He sculpted small pieces to be used in maple sugar candy molds, such as a covered bridge, and little pilgrims. He made a Vermont State Seal out of Rubber which was placed on the wall behind the Governor’s desk.

Later, Paul began to paint more and to sculpt less. He taught private art classes in Montpelier at the Wood Art Gallery. He has paintings all over New England, which are mostly realistic and pastoral, but a few pieces of “modern” art, including a wall mural done for Montpelier High School in the mid 1960’s where he taught drafting and advanced shop as his last official employment.

In 1966, Paul did life-size figures in rubber for the Calvin Coolidge oath of office room at the Eastern States Exposition. Figures were of President Coolidge, US Senator Porter H. Dale, Irwin Geiser, Secretary to the President, Col. John Coolidge and the President’s wife, Grace. After the Big E., the figures went to the Coolidge Homestead at Plymouth Notch, Vermont. (See article, Times-Argus, Barre-Montpelier, VT., Saturday, September 10, 1966).

He retired in June of 1971 from Montpelier High School and he died on December 2, 1971 from cancer of the bladder. Doctors attributed it to his many years of chain smoking Chesterfield cigarettes. He was cremated and his ashes buried in the woods in Shady Rill, Vermont on the property of his son, Peter. His gravesite is surrounded by a white picket fence amid the cedar trees.

After he knew he had cancer, and had been operated on and was in “remission”, he said that he had two art projects left to do…two things he had always wanted to do and hadn’t done. So, in his last months he made a model of an American eagle on a plaque, and tragedy and comedy masks.

His memberships included George Washington Masonic Lodge #80 (both his father and grandfather were members), the Methodist Church, the Montpelier Education Association, Vermont Education Association, National Educational Association, the Industrial Arts Educators Association, and the Retired Teacher’s Association. In his younger days he was a member of the Rosicrucians.

The artwork of Paul Vinal Winters is scattered all over New England and the country. He never cared much for fame or fortune so many works are unsigned, and not attributed to him. I, his daughter, am trying to collect pictures and information on his work. I hope that others reading this will contact me. Thank you. Bibliography Gilbert, Dorothy B., Editor, Who’s Who In American Art, Volume IV, For the years 1940-1947, American Art Annual Series. A Biographical Directory of Contemporary Artists, Editors, Critics, Executives, etc. published in 1947 by The American Federation of Arts, National Headquarters: 1262 New Hampshire, Ave., N.W., Washington 6, D.C., U.S.A., p. 704. Who’s Who In American Art, Volume III. For the years 1940-1941. A Biographical Directory of Contemporary American Artists. Published in 1940 by The American Federation of Arts, National Headquarters: Barr Building, Washington, D.C., U.S.A. p. 511. Art in Stone. P. 19 Times-Argus, Barre, VT. Sept. 10, 1968, “Oath of Office Room” The Sentinel, Barre, Vermont, November 10, 1950. Bendix Aviation Log Susan Flora Winters Smith, 115 Brainard Rd., Enfield, CT, 06082. [email protected]