Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Samuel Lewis

In celebration of Black History Month, today's post looks at the accomplishments of Samuel Lewis...

Samuel Lewis settled in Bozeman in 1868, joining a small population of African Americans who came to Montana after the Civil War. Lewis, a native of the West Indies, was a skilled barber, an expert sleight-of-hand performer, and a first-class musician. He established a thriving tonsorial parlor and bathhouse on Main Street. Lewis shared his success with his younger sister, Edmonia, financing her studies abroad. Highly acclaimed as one of the most gifted African American sculptors of the nineteenth century, Edmonia displayed her work at the 1894 Chicago Exposition. In 1889, Lewis transformed his modest home into a fine Queen Anne style showplace that reveals a high level of architectural sophistication. Its grand and beautifully maintained interior features a frescoed parlor ceiling, tin ceiling in the kitchen, and ornate woodwork.

From History of Montana, 1739-1885
 Completed in 1890, the Lewis residence was then and is now one of Bozeman’s most delightful homes. When Lewis died in 1896, he left an estate valued at twenty-five thousand dollars. It was a well-deserved fortune likely unparalleled by other contemporary African American Montanans.

From Montana Moments: History on the Go

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