Emily Rockwood Ray and Joseph Gordon Ray.
Painting by Frank Hector Tompkins.
About Joseph and Emily
Joseph Gordon Ray, or "J.G." as he was known to friends, was born in Mendon, Massachusetts on October 4, 1831, the son of Joseph and Lydia Paine Ray. After finishing school, he went to work in his brothers' Unionville (Franklin) shoddy mill as a "rag-picker'. After a year in the mill he was brought into the family business, renamed Ray Brothers. A shrewd businessman, J.G. was the president of three railroad companies, two national banks, two woolen companies and two copper companies. He was known to all as a man of "sterling integrity and business honor". Emily Rockwood Ray was the daughter of Colonel Joseph and Anne Rockwood of Bellingham, Mass. She tended to stay out of the public eye, but was very active in Franklin's Universalist Church. They were married on February 12, 1854 and had two daughters, Lydia and Annie. Joseph died in February of 1900, Emily in February of 1902. They are buried in the Union Street cemetery in Franklin.
Lydia Ray Pierce and Annie Ray Thayer erected the Ray Memorial building as a memorial to their beloved parents, who, in their lifetime, gave so much to the community that they called home.
Lydia & Annie spared no expense, and hired only the finest craftsmen, in this effort to honor their parents. The project broke ground in July of 1901. The final cost for the Ray Memorial Library, including funds for future upkeep, was nearly $500,000. The equivalent in today's funds would be approximately $14,000,000.
Annie Ray Thayer and Lydia Ray Pierce
Theodore Skinner: the perfect architect
To make their dream memorial a reality, the daughters selected the architectural firm of Rand & Skinner of Boston. The company had done work previously for the Ray family. Theodore Skinner took on the project.
Skinner was born in 1872 into the Oneida Community, one of 58 children produced through the commune's eugenics program (only carefully selected men and women were paired up and permitted to have children). It's difficult to say exactly how this influenced him as an architect, except that he himself said that it was important to understand the "architecture of the community" before he designed a building. And, perhaps, the Oneida community's belief in perfectionism and the great possibilities of human achievement.
Theodore became a student at MIT at the age of 16 and after graduation joined the prestigious architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White in New York City. After leaving the firm and spending some time studying in Paris, he returned to America and partnered with architect George Rand of Boston.
Frank B. Gilbreth: inventive builder and famous dad
Frank Gilbreth (1868-1924) wore many hats over the course of his life; U.S. Army, WWI efficiency expert, construction engineer who invented a special scaffold that revolutionized brick laying, and author who wrote a now famous fictionalized account of his family life in Cheaper by the dozen.
Skinner hired Frank B. Gilbreth General Contractor company to oversee the construction project.
Spanish- American architect Rafael Guastavino (1842-1908). Immigrated to the U.S. in 1881 and started the Guastavino Fireproof Construction Company. He modernized old-world timbrel vaulting, making it light-weight by using terracotta tiles instead of bricks, and fast-setting, modern cement. He called it the "Cohesive Construction System", known today as the "Tile Arch System".
Ray Memorial's copper & terracotta roof, domed ceilings and floors were created by the Guastavino Fireproof Construction Company.
Henry Hammond Gallison: a design "to please Dr. Gallison"
American landscape artist Henry Gallison (1850-1910) was long known to the residents of Franklin, and a friend of the Ray family. Although born in Boston, with studios in both Boston and Annisquam, he had family here and in the 1890s was not just a resident, but the local judge!
Henry was born in Boston May 20, 1850 to Joseph Gallison and Lavinia Hammond Gallison. To please his father, at the age of 16 he entered Harvard Medical School and upon graduation became a Boston city doctor during a smallpox epidemic. After a year he gave up medicine and entered Harvard Law School. With his law degree he occasionally helped out friends in need of legal representation, and for a while he was Judge of the Court for the town of Franklin. But always he was an artist.
While studying in Paris under a well-known French landscape artist named Adrien-Adolphe Bonnefoy, he met and married (1885) German singer Marie Reuter. Eventually, he returned to Massachusetts and became a member of the prestigious Boston Art Club where he was instructed by the internationally respected Italian artist, Tomasso Juglaris.
For mostly financial reasons, Gallison found himself in Franklin assisting his cousin, Jeffrey Cushing Gallison, in his medical practice. J.C. Gallison was a good friend to Joseph Ray and his family and they quickly adopted Henry into their circle of friends.
In 1900, following the death of Joseph Ray, Gallison took up the commission of Lydia and Annie Ray to design the Ray Memorial Library. A quote from the Boston Sunday Herald of Oct. 19, 1902, the design "eminated from the brain of Dr. Gallison". Henry worked directly with Theodore Skinner on the design and Skinner's only instruction from the Ray sisters was "to please Dr. Gallison"