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Lots of family painting history in Greenwich Village, New York City where my grandmother, Blanche (Nathan) Hesslein and my mother, Bernice (Erickson) Hesslein painted in Washington Square Park in the 1920's through 1950s.

I will begin posting photographs from this period. All are in black and white and all quite interesting.

MacDougal Street and MacDougal Alley in Greenwich Village were favorite places for them to work. They often showed their paintings in exhibitions in and around the park and they both had a studio on MacDougal Alley in the 1930s & 1940s.

Blanche and Bernice spent considerable time painting outdoors in the lush park with trees swaying and birds flying in the middle of that public square in New York City.

MacDougal Alley is a dead-end off MacDougal Street, south of West 8th Street. The Alley was established in 1883 to house stables for the townhouses located there at the time, some are still standing. From 1949 to 1950 Jackson Pollock lived at Number 9 on the alley. Poet Edward A. Robinson and sculptor Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, founder of the Whitney Museum also lived along the alley. MacDougal Alley is one of the final Manhattan streets lit by gas lamps.

The alley and street were named for Scottish-born Alexander MacDougal (1732-1786), an original Son of Liberty who was imprisoned in 1770 for writing a pamphlet denouncing restrictions the British had placed on trade in the colonies. He received so many visitors that his jailers had to make an appointment list. During the Revolutionary War he rose to major general, later represented New York State in the Continental Congress, became a state senator and the first president of the Bank of New York.

Blanche Hesslein
MacDougal Alley - Greenwich Village
oil on canvas 1940

MacDougal Alley Greenwich Village

Click to view a High Resolution image

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