I am Gail Tanzer, and I write historical fiction about artists who were once well-known but whose work and contributions have been almost forgotten. Every great piece of art is a reflection of the history of the time as well as of the individual artist’s soul. I try to tell the story of both.
Augusta’s family moved to West Palm Beach, Florida in about 1908. Gussie and her one-year -old daughter moved here also. They lived in homes like these. Artwork has been added recently for a lively touch. Gussie and her daughter Irene had their own place a few doors down from her parents. The very basic frame dwellings were put up to house African-Americans who worked for the extravagant new hotels in Palm Beach. Gussie and her mother were laundresses for the hotels.
After going to Green Cove Springs, Florida (Savage’s birthplace), I went to New York City to research her life there.
A statue done by Augusta Savage in the 1930s to show how slaves felt when they realized there was no good future for them. This work, along with many of her other works, cannot be found.
This is the road to the house Augusta lived in when she left New York City. Here is the road sign that the community chose to replace the one that originally said “Nigger Road. (After a while one of the g’s was taken out to make the sign look like NIG ER Road). Augusta Savage was well-received in Saugerties when she came in the 1940s. However, she chose to spend most of her time tending her little farm, taking notes at a laboratory, and visiting with the neighbor children. She did about seven works of art in Saugerties but left the art world for the most part…while only in mid-life.
Karlyn Knaust Elia and Dick Duncan purchased the house and are restoring it with tender loving care.