A Bangor area artist found fame elsewhere, but his most beloved work stands in Bangor.

The sculptor Charles Eugene Tefft was born in 1874 in Brewer, Maine, and died in 1951 in Presque Isle.

Tefft's work includes five monuments  in Bangor, Maine.  His fame, however, was not limited to Maine.  Tefft sculptures can be found in New York, New Jersey, and St. Louis.  In 1922, the Boston Sunday Herald named him "one of the leading sculptors of the United States."

Click on any of the images below to see an enlarged view.

chamberlain.jpg (12964 bytes) The first professional sculpture by Charles Tefft, done when he was seventeen years old, was this chalk bust of another Brewer resident, General Joshua L. Chamberlain.  Chamberlain took a personal interest in the young artist, finding other notable models for him and helping him obtain a scholarship at the Institute of Artists and Artisans in New York, where Tefft went after high school. 

Tefft's interest in sculpture began when he was very young, and his parents were exceptionally supportive of his interest.  For three years the family were unable to use the parlor in their home, because Charles had turned it into a studio.

The Chamberlain bust is now at the Brewer Public Library.

Around the turn of the century, city expositions created many opportunities for American artists.  Tefft's exposition commissions included an allegorical Lake Superior for the 1902 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo; this plaster figure representing Iowa at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904, also known as the St. Louis World's Fair; a marble Renaissance Art statue which now stands over the entrance portico of the St. Louis Museum of Art; a statue group named Philadelphia Progressive at the 1926 Sesqui-Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia; and a statue of Osceola at the Charleston Exposition.  He was  art director for the Sesqui-Centennial Exhibition. iowa.jpg (75522 bytes)
In 1905, Tefft won a competition for his design for an equestrian group statue and fountain for the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx.  His next commission was for a Revolutionary War soldier's monument in Fort Lee, New Jersey's Monument Park.  This sculpture, which was completed in 1909, depicts two of General Washington's soldiers scaling the Palisades. In 1913 Tefft opened his own studio in New York City and, with  friends, organized the New York Evening School of Industrial Art.  He put his career on hold, though, to serve in the Ninth Coast Artillery during World War I.
After the war, Tefft's career and reputation grew.  In addition to his work on the Sesqui-Centennial Exposition, he did The Peace Monument in Belleville, New Jersey and the William H. Maxwell Memorial for the American Museum of Natural History in New York.  In the 1920's, Tefft and his wife bought a farm near Sebec Lake and established a studio there.  As the art world turned increasingly to modernism, Tefft began doing more work for Maine.  
drivers1.jpg (64332 bytes) Tefft's Luther H. Peirce Memorial, a gift to the city of Bangor, Maine from the descendants of lumber baron Luther H. Peirce, was installed on Harlow Street  in 1925.  Also known as The Last Drive, the monument shows three river drivers using an axe, a cantdog, and a peavey to break up a log jam by prying out the key log.  This most dangerous moment of a log drive makes for a dramatic, compelling sculpture.  The models included legendary river driver Pat Connors and a young logger named David Preble.
A statue of Hannibal Hamlin stands on the Kenduskeag Mall in downtown Bangor, Maine.  The Mall is a small park between State Street and Central Streets.   This bronze statue was erected in 1927.

Hannibal Hamlin (1809 - 1891) served as Congressman, Governor of Maine, United States Senator, and as United States Vice President during Abraham Lincoln's first term.  He later served as port collector in Boston, as Senator from 1869 to 1881, and as Minister to Spain.

hamlin3.jpg (39216 bytes)
hamlin.jpg (22674 bytes) This statue of Hannibal Hamlin by Tefft stands in Statuary Hall in the United States Capitol Building.  One of two statues given to Statuary Hall by the State of Maine, it was given in 1935.  It is a copy of the Hamlin statue in Bangor.
Another Tefft sculpture in Bangor is the Veterans of Foreign Wars Memorial, installed in Norumbega Parkway in 1939.  Lady Victory holds a torch in one hand and a laurel branch in the other.  Although classical in style, this is one of the earliest sculptures to be electrically wired. 

This small park connecting Central Street and Franklin Street was also a gift to the city from the estate of Luther H. Peirce. 

bgrwar.jpg (45253 bytes)
USSMaine.jpg (84518 bytes) The Spanish-American War Memorial in Bangor's Davenport Park was designed by Charles Tefft.  The design incorporates the bow shield of the U.S.S. Maine.   The sinking of the battleship in Havana harbor was the event that touched off the war in 1898.

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